When we launched PushFire, we “of course” put a blog on the site. The theory was using the blog to build the brand and posting awesome content on it. But it didn't take long for PushFire's client roster to be full, which meant our team is busy working on actual client initiatives.
To add to the situation, I still have Sugarrae and still want to keep it updated and growing. Which meant when I did have time to sit down and write a post, I was left with a dilemma – does the post go on Sugarrae or PushFire? Posts about affiliate marketing had an obvious destination – but posts on SEO, link building, branding, blogging, entrepreneurship… they had less clear homes.
Additionally, the intended home would have a definite effect on my writing style. Sean and I decided early on that there would be no F-bombs coming out of my “mouth” in writing under the PushFire brand. Having to “corporate up” my writing style wasn't something I liked doing, which made the prospect of me blogging on PushFire even less appetizing.
As time went on, it became apparent that the PushFire blog was becoming the red headed stepchild. Our team was too busy to write for it. I had little desire to write for it. Pushing (no pun intended) posts from PushFire through social media channels was harder than pushing posts through Sugarrae (which has a great social media following and already has brand recognition).
But PushFire needed a blog.
Wait. WHY? Why does it “need” a blog?
And then we realized – it DOESN'T. Why?
Leveraging the Brand We Already Have
A few people knew about the impending launch of PushFire before we actually went public with it. We needed feedback on site design, elements of the site, copy checks, etc. One of the people I went to for input was Derek Halpern because he has mad marketing skills when it comes to building a brand. When he saw the blog element of the site, he asked me (paraphrasing into one paragraph from an entire Skype conversation), “Why would you attempt to split your blogging brand? You have Sugarrae. Don't try and build a secondary blog. You should be using the reputation and traffic of the blog you already have to funnel people who need services to the PushFire brand.”
Well because we NEED a blog Derek! Every other agency has a blog.
But “every other agency” DOESN'T have a blog. And even if they did, we're not “every other agency” nor do we want to be. As the months went by, Analytics showed us that Derek had been right. The number 1 referrer to the PushFire site is Sugarrae.com. Sugarrae sends thousands of visitors per month to the agency. And the more I blog on Sugarrae, the more traffic referrals from Sugarrae to PushFire climb.
Ego Brand Building vs. Revenue Brand Building
The other aspect that we looked at when deciding to kill the PushFire blog was what the purpose of the blog was – and if it was going to be successful in achieving it. Sure I want PushFire to be a “known” name in the digital marketing world. But was that going to generate the agency revenue? I know from prior experience that while having an active and quality blog can increase name exposure and name recognition, it doesn't typically bring in ACTUAL revenue (as in someone lands on a blog post and then fills out a contact form).
I'm sure an argument can be made that the brand exposure helps potential clientele feel you're a quality agency. I made that argument myself above regarding leveraging the blogging brand we already have (Sugarrae). But in my experience, what brings in actual clientele for an agency is speaking at conferences, being featured in articles and interviews on other high quality sites, sharing knowledge on other high quality sites (AKA guest blogging), ranking in the engines for the terms we want to and referrals from people who frankly don't give a shit whether or not we have a blog – they care whether or not we can serve the client.
Looking purely at generating revenue, we don't need people passing around PushFire blog posts. We need the PushFire name to be listed on conference bios and article bios and mentioned within articles and interviews. Building the PushFire blog as an individual initiative was – frankly – redundant for our specific situation. So a few months ago, we quietly shut down the blog, moved the few posts that were on it to Sugarrae and set up the redirects to let the engines know.
I'm not saying YOU don't need a blog
We obviously have some extenuating circumstances, so don't take this as “no agency” needs a blog. Sometimes building a brand via blogging can help you in obtaining clients and brand recognition via a trickle down effect so to speak. For instance, building a brand through blogging may help you GET the speaking spots that then generate clients. But, I think agencies need to look at their reasons for blogging, their results from blogging and most importantly, their true ROI from blogging.
Building an agency brand without a blog
Can you get that same effect from writing and submitting a great post for Search Engine Land? Can you get that same brand recognition and networking from being involved in the WebmasterWorld forums? Can you make the same intended networking and referral contacts via attending a conference like Affiliate Summit and privately sharing your knowledge and making friends?
There are tons of extremely successful SEO, PPC and online marketing companies out there that no one has ever “heard of” in the blogosphere. I initially built my personal brand in the SEO and online marketing world before the era of blogging, so I don't see a blog as a “make or break” for an agency. And more specifically, based on our circumstances, it definitely isn't a make or break for growing PushFire.