Blogs for Agencies and Freelancers - How Networking Works

Michael Firnkes Updated on 22.10.2020
12 Min.
Barcamp Blogger
Last updated on 22.10.2020

The website of an agency includes a blog or magazine. After all, potential customers want to know whether the service provider has mastered its profession. Only few instruments in online marketing are as effective as a blog - so Daniela Sprung, expert in corporate blogs.

Blogs for agencies as well as magazines pay a premium on their own SEO, which is hardly the case with social networks. Nevertheless, many agencies and freelancers shy away from demonstrating their expertise via a blog. What do you need to consider when starting a blog project? How do you create good content with little time? And how does networking with other bloggers work? Our interview provides the answers.

Corporate blog vs. online magazine

"Corporate blogs are dead, long live the online magazine" - that's what it's ringing out from all corners these days. Daniela, what is your opinion on this controversial topic?

Both variants have their justification. The question is: How is such a project implemented? I am a great advocate of the classic blogs - with commentary function and contributions that may also be more personal. The Daimler blog was thus a real pioneer. Now the blog no longer existsit became the Daimler magazine.

Daimler magazine
Daimler switched from blog to magazine

Here, too, the implementation has been very successful, I think. Outstanding contributions, an appealing design and yet the feeling remains that the very personal charm has been retained. What I criticize is that there is no comment function. The discourse takes LinkedInplace among the contributions. I am not a fan of relinquishing control. You only lead the readers' reactions through external channels that are not your own. DATEV is now the followed the same path and invites discussion on Facebook.

Aren't online magazines just blogs, just with a slightly more fancy name? Where do you see the differences?

For me, the difference is that online magazines are more broadly based in their topics than a blog. The tonality is more objective. It's also less about maintaining more direct contact with customers, employees and partners. In a blog, the articles are more personal. They usually deal with more topics related to the company, its employees, events and products or services.

Silja Troll has a good definition of what makes a blog different from a magazine:

A magazine is primarily sorted by topic, rather informative and factual. A corporate blog, on the other hand, is characterised by often more subjective opinion making. It aims - more than a magazine - at direct communication with the users. However, knowledge and information transfer are also decisive in corporate blogging.

Blogs and content marketing

I am asked time and again whether a company should call its project "blog" or "magazine". Which variant is suitable for which industries or target groups?

There is no blanket answer here. For many people, the term "blog" is very conservative and linked to the origins of blogging, the digital diary. In times of buzzwords like content marketing, content shock or perhaps content hub it is certainly more interesting for many to speak of a magazine. The term is fancier and not as old-fashioned as "The Blog".

I myself always talk about a blog. Just to make it clear that there's a line between this and a magazine. Often the two terms "blog" and "magazine" are used as synonyms. I would listen into the respective industry or target group to understand which terms they use. Which term attracts more attention there? It is important, however, that it is clear what the cooperation is about. This is the only way to fulfil expectations and prevent disappointments.

Blog4Business : Networking with other bloggers

You organize the Blog4Businessa conference for corporate and professional bloggers. Corporate bloggers have rarely networked so far, in contrast to the WordPress scene. Why is this so?

Firstly, the number of company bloggers is manageable. If you look at how many companies have a blog and how many companies use social channels (and I'm not even talking about maintaining them), it quickly becomes clear: Corporate blogs are a niche. Many do not consider a blog to be relevant or relevant enough.

On the other hand, a corporate blogger often not only takes care of the blog, but he or she also has other tasks such as social media, marketing, community management etc. All these are areas where there are much more frequent innovations. I am thinking of articles like "10 trends you need to know for your social media campaign 2020" and the like. Additionally, there are events like the D2M Summit, the Social Media Week Hamburg, the Allfacebook Conference etc. These events deal with topics like Facebook Ads, Social Listening, Instagram & Co. To exchange ideas with colleagues works better because there is a whole industry for this.

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This is not the case with corporate blogging. Not much changes in terms of content here. But, and I think many people forget this: The ability to write good texts, requirements for search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics are constantly developing. SEO is often a separate department within a company, or it is outsourced to an agency. Company bloggers then do not always have access to the necessary data to evaluate it themselves. So who should you talk to about this? That's another reason why corporate bloggers find it difficult to communicate with each other.

This is exactly why the Blog4Business. There is no comparable meeting on the subject so far. In addition, you often have to ask your employer whether you are allowed to attend a particular event, including the reasons for doing so. Moreover, there is only a certain budget for such events. Then you probably go where many other colleagues are, for example to re:publica.

Is networking with corporate blogs and online magazines currently improving? And how can a conference resolve this?

Whether this is changing, I can't say for sure. But I do know what a conference must offer so that visitors can network in the best possible way. My events are aimed at bloggers who use the blog professionally. For a company, for an agency or for yourself as a freelancer. But there are also topics that go beyond the scope of the blog.

This year, the gamification and community management. These topics are broader. They also address people who are active in the field of social media. So agency employees, freelancers, organization members etc. For me, there are two key points that ensure a stronger exchange:

On the one hand, the time between programme items. People want to talk to each other, and not only during the breaks. In my opinion, a lot of time for networking is the basis for a better conversation. Because it is the personal moments that bring people together. You can finally meet people who you always wanted to talk to and who you only know from the net so far. In addition, a conference can be very large. I've decided to allow a maximum of 100 people in order to keep it Blog4Business familiar.

Another point is the practical work: away from frontal sound reinforcement and towards trial and error. The participants want to ask questions and learn solutions. The more practice an event offers and the smaller the number of participants, the sooner people get into action and discussion. An event should have a certain size, about 70 to a maximum of 150 people. This is usually enough, depending on the program.

Advantages of blogs for agencies

Agencies but also freelancers should urgently have their own blog to show their expertise. This is my opinion. What is your opinion? What are the main advantages of an agency blog?

I'm a big supporter of blogs. The topic is my passion. Because I am convinced that few instruments in online marketing are as effective as a blog to show your expertise. In my opinion, the advantage of blogs lies primarily in their constant accessibility, worldwide. Every other medium usually needs a login. No matter if Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Xing or Medium, just to name a few examples.

All media formats can be used on a blog. Try inserting a link, video and image in a posting on Facebook. You'll need to choose a thumbnail if you want your post to be more than just text. A blog works very well in conjunction with a podcast. I do that too. I publish my podcast on my blogand usually I create a text from the audio. So my visitors can not only read, but also hear. I reach two target groups and it pays off for the SEO. This does not work on any social network.

With a blog you are independent from social networks and the press. Facebook often changes its algorithm. The current trend is that organic visibility is much harder to achieve than it was a few years ago. If companies, agencies or freelancers want to make money and be seen, they are almost forced to place ads. At Instagram it's still possible, but even here structures are changing. Google+ no longer exists and only very few people talk about Ello anymore.

Bloggerabc
The blog of Daniela Sprung

On a blog I decide how the posts should look like. I can decide how many and which media I want to include. I have direct influence on search engine optimization and my visibility. There is another reason that speaks for blogs: Many agencies and companies have a great interest in appearing in the press. It is not without reason that there are communication departments that often employ a press officer. But it is difficult to attract attention with a press release. Because it must contain a story that is so interesting that journalists report on it.

On the blog I can publish my own stories and communicate about them in times of crisis. Anita Freitag-Meyer from the Hans Freitag Keksfabrik showed how this works very impressively a few years ago. She was supplied with flour containing metal chips. In addition to the mandatory recall action, she also investigated the situation via their cookie blog and their social channels. Although an external PR specialist was involved, she took over the personal communication via social media and the blog herself. In this she responded to comments and questions from her community.

As a result, the owner was later awarded a prize for her exemplary crisis communication. She herself talked about the fact that she did not receive a Shitstorm but a "Candystorm". An interview with Anita Freitag-Meyer on the case can be on my blog listen.

SEO and recruiting

What do corporate blogs do in recruiting new employees and for SEO? Which content formats are used?

A blog is also an excellent channel for employer branding and employee retention. Many agencies are looking for employees, often specialists in various fields. Behind-the-scenes articles, videos and interviews with employees, as well as presentations of projects, offer good insights into the company. To show who you are and how you work.

In my opinion, this is very well done by the agency result from Cologne with their Effectiveness blogbut also to her RAIDBOXES with wp unboxed around WordPress . Informative articles that go into depth and insights into your company. And all this with lively texts that are fun to read. What more do you want?

Blogs for Agencies and Freelancers - How Networking Works Best
In magazine format: Our own WordPress blog "wp unboxed"

The search engine optimization is another important point, as already mentioned. With a well set up blog you can earn a place on site one at Google. If the following criteria are met:

  • The implementation of the Mobile Firstrule of Google
  • Fast loading times
  • Good content that is better than that of competitors

Fact is: A blog pays for its own SEO, social networks less or not at all. In my opinion, all these points speak very strongly in favour of agencies and self-employed people running a blog.

I also recommend this to medium-sized companies in many cases. Because if you look around in the different industries, many competitors don't have a blog yet - or they are pretty bad. That means: The opportunity is extremely good to position yourself as a trendsetter and expert. Sometimes you are the only company that runs a blog, then you fill a gap. The others have to get past that first.

Plan content efficiently

Freelancers often have little time to blog themselves. How can they still provide enough content?

There is too much work on your desk, you don't have time to blog and your blog has been lying idle for a long time. This has happened to me as well. Here different strategies help. For one thing, you should write articles in advance, i.e. "on stockpile". Then you can always fall back on the written material. Even the distribution on social networks and in newsletters can be planned in advance, which saves you time.

On the other hand, guest contributions help to bridge the doldrums on the blog. This provides for content from a foreign spring and thus for variety on the blog. There are enough people who like to increase their reach and are happy about a do-follow-link when they publish on other blogs. I recommend that you set the framework for a guest post. This includes that the article is unique and will not appear elsewhere, keyword Unique Content.

Also clarify how you address your readers. Do you want to address them on a familiar or formal level or use a neutral language? How would you like it? Avoid keyword stuffing and clarify who provides the pictures for the contribution. The new blog of the Digital Week Dortmund has created a very good and clear regulation. It offers you a good inspiration, see here.

But not only new and planned content can help to keep the blog going in bad times. But also updated content. It is often not necessary to constantly write new articles. It is much better to take old articles and update them. This includes checking if the content is still correct or if there have been any changes in the meantime. Further work steps are:

  • Remove broken links
  • Alternatively, to replace them with new ones if they lead to useful information
  • Include further media if it is useful
  • provide this revised article with an indication of when it was first published and when it was updated

Many readers no longer have such articles on their screens. The new visitors on the other hand may not even know the article yet. So you can create fresh content on the blog with much less effort than writing a completely new post.

Conference and Barcamp for Blogs

What awaits the participants at the Blog4Business ? And what is the difference to Corporate Blog Barcamp on November 5?

The Blog4Business (B4B) combines two formats. The classic conference and the casual barcamp. With the Blog4Business I want to think outside the box. Here I connect the topics around corporate blogs and social media. There will be three lectures by experts spread over the day, dealing with corporate blogs and social media.

This year it is Rouven Kasten from GLS Bank. He shows how the socio-economic bank her blog has been operating successfully for over 10 years. And how they not only reach their customers, but also sell current accounts. Furthermore, I could win Nora Breuker as a speaker. Nora is the expert when it comes to building and maintaining communities. She has built up a large community in the USA. In the beginning I wrote that I wanted to look beyond the edge of my plate with the B4B. With the topic of gamification, that should be the case. It's an exciting challenge, especially in terms of blogging. Roman Rackwitz shows how readers can be bound in a playful way. And how the transfer of knowledge in blogs can be designed in this way. He brings along examples of this.

Between the lectures the Barcamp takes place. The special thing about this is that the participants create their own program. Everyone can come forward and suggest a session. This could be a question about social media or blog. Or someone explains how Pinterest works properly. There is no right or wrong. The important thing is that the participants have enough time to exchange ideas. In the end, they should go home with even more knowledge and good contacts.

The Corporate Blog Barcamp compared to that, is a pure barcamp. There are no lectures. Instead, the program is designed by the participants themselves. The sessions here are very concentrated on the main topic blog. The Corporate Blog Barcamp will take place for the second time on November 5, 2020. Last year we had topics such as how to set up the Google Search Console correctly. The agency responsible for the Ritter Sport Blog gave insights behind the scenes. Leefke von RAIDBOXES talked about how good posts have to look like in order to convert them. I'm very curious to see which topics will be proposed this year.

Corporate Blog Barcamp
The Corporate Blog Barcamp

A question you're probably already sick of hearing: Will it take place Blog4Business despite the "Corona"? Some WordCamps have already been cancelled.

At present, I see no reason for concern. I am constantly monitoring the information provided by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). I consider their instructions or recommendations to be decisive. I have coordinated with the IHK zu Dortmund, which is co-organizer of theBlog4Business . We agree that the event will take place as planned.

The IHK is excellently prepared, for example with a disinfection station at the entrance. We advocate that a smile or nod replaces a handshake. Basically, the same precautions apply as for the flu. I will publish an official statement on this and write to the participants directly. I think we are well prepared with this. And we can look forward to a varied day.

Do you have questions about corporate blogs? Please use the comment function. Do you want to be informed about new articles on online marketing for freelancers and agencies? Then follow us on Twitteror Facebook , or subscribe to our newsletter.

Michael takes cake care of the areas of content and mental health at RAIDBOXES. He has been active in the blogger and WordPress community since 2007. Among other things as co-organizer of WordPress events, book author and corporate blog trainer. He loves blogging incredibly, professionally but also privately. Michael works and writes remotely from sunny Freiburg.

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