Think every brand needs a blog? Think again

Content creation is a craft—and, like any craft, you get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean you need a million-dollar budget to see results.

If you ask a novice content marketer whether a brand needs a blog, there’s a good chance they’ll start salivating on the spot. They’ll tout the value of SEO, preach the importance of thought leadership, and point excitedly at their case studies.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve seen blogs produce mind-blowing results—they can be the most powerful tool in a marketing department’s arsenal. That said, we need to pump the brakes and ask a question that too many content marketers shy away from: 

When should a brand not have a blog?

There are several scenarios in which blogging could do more harm than good, but they usually boil down to one of these two principles.

1. You don’t have anything to say

Ideas are the lifeblood of any blog. Got a running list of insights you want to share or keywords you can compete for? You’re in a good spot. But if you’re staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor, you’re probably not ready to launch a blog (yet).

Brands with nothing to say end up regurgitating what’s been said a million times. They publish articles to meet quotas instead of starting conversations—hence the growing “churnalism” problem.

Starting a blog because your competitor has one or because you saw a viral Twitter thread about SEO puts you on a fast track to frustration and disappointment. You need a voice, a purpose, a plan. 

Brands that wander half-heartedly into blogging don’t earn consistent traffic or command attention; that’s for the brands with something to say.

2. You don’t have resources to create valuable content 

A brand might have good intentions and grand ideas for their future blog. But if they aren’t willing (or able) to invest the time, money, and effort needed to create content worth reading, they’re better off waiting.

Last week I saw a job posting on LinkedIn for a content marketing manager at a SaaS startup. The responsibilities included, but were not limited to:

  • Comprehensive SEO strategy
  • Competitor analysis
  • Researching, writing, editing, and publishing eight articles per month
  • Creating ebooks, whitepapers, and other lead magnets
  • Promoting said content across social media, email, and online forums

Here are three predictions based on that job description: 

  1. The content will suffer because the (lone) writer is stretched too thin
  2. The executives will be disappointed when they don’t see hockey stick growth in their organic traffic
  3. The company will shutter the blog in 4-6 months because they didn’t see any ROI

Content creation is a craft—and, like any craft, you get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean you need a million-dollar budget to see results. But putting your blog on the shoulders of one person or delegating the work to an overseas content farm is like sending a high school basketball team to play against the Lakers—things are gonna get ugly.

Blogging works wonders for plenty of brands. But blindly prescribing it without asking fundamental questions (Do you have anything new to say? Do you have the bandwidth?) is irresponsible.

Social media, PR, video, and even billboards can all move the needle as effectively as a blog—and possibly quicker too. Of course, that’s not easy to admit if you make a living in content marketing. 

To paraphrase Upton Sinclair: It’s hard to get people to understand something when their salary depends on them not understanding it.

Dominic Vaiana
Dominic Vaiana is a writer, creative strategist, and bibliophile based in St. Louis, MO. You can find his articles and book recommendations at DominicV.net.