One of the first things my father taught me about being an entrepreneur is that whenever possible you should “eat your own dog food.” That is to say, if you are making a product or offering a service, you should put yourself in the shoes of your customer if possible. If you make dog food, you should open up a bag and try a bite (seriously, dad?). If you operate a movie theatre, you should stand in line, purchase a ticket, get some popcorn, step on the sticky floors, and immerse yourself in the experience. There is no better way to understand what is working or not working for the end customer and how you might need to adjust your offering.
We have been extoling the benefits of using the IZEA network of creators to produce blog content for brands for some time. Our team would point to research and share our customer success stories. But when a potential customer asked, “Do you use the IZEA network to produce your own content?” unfortunately, the answer was “no.”
In 2016, we weren’t eating our own dog food. We hadn’t put ourselves in our customer’s shoes.
The truth was we were struggling ourselves to keep up with our blog. The responsibility kept getting passed from one person to the next. We couldn’t develop enough ideas to keep the content fresh, and we certainly weren’t optimizing the posts for search engines or social media. After being asked this question on a few occasions, we made the decision that we were going to go all-in on using our network for content marketing.
We would become a customer for the same exact product that we sell to our clients. We would share the experience, and either be able to demonstrate ROI or have to go back to the drawing board.
Blog Post Impact on Search
IZEA launched our new website in February of 2017, with a brand-new blog powered by our network. We went from a random blog post on a random topic every few days, to a strategic, well optimized post every business day, which was complimented by infographics and white papers. All of this content was produced by our network, with an IZEA team member acting as our “client.”
Before I talk about results I do want to note that as with all forms of marketing there are other variables that can affect search volume and performance. The past twelve months have been exciting, and I am sure that also contributed to some level of organic search activity as more people were researching the company and our industry. Results will absolutely vary for different companies and sectors, and our experience may not be the same for a client or anyone else investing in content.
For IZEA, the impact was nearly immediate. Our organic search sessions on izea.com nearly doubled in the first month, and have since increased 18.1x from January 2017 to January 2018. Not only did traffic increase, we have also seen more inbound leads and better-quality leads as well.
Blog Post Frequency Impact on Traffic
“How often should we post new content to our blog?” is one of the most frequent questions we get from clients. We often point to this Hubspot post that provides a wealth of data about blog post frequency including:
- Companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got almost 3.5X more traffic than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly posts.
- Companies that published 401+ total blog posts got over 3X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 100 total blog posts.
But that data is a few years old and generalized among 13,500 blogs in the Hubspot network. It does not speak to our specific approach, or the type of content produced by our network. It also didn’t directly speak to our recommended level of frequency, which is two posts per business day or about 525 per year.
In the early part of last year, IZEA was publishing less content to our blog than we would recommend to our own clients. So, when a client would say “you are recommending more than one post a day, but IZEA is only posting one post a day,” they had a point. If we knew it worked for our clients, why wouldn’t we be doing the same thing? In November 2017, I authorized our team to double down on blog content production, increasing the frequency of blog posts from our network from one post per business day to two posts per business day.
The result was an 98% increase in organic search traffic from November 2017 to January 2018. We had more organic search traffic in January 2018 than we did for the entire year of 2016.
Eating our own dog food was one of the best marketing and operational decisions we made last year. Not only have we directly benefitted from utilizing our own services, we can have a more candid discussion with our clients about the challenges and benefits we saw during the process. No matter your business, you should see if you can “eat your own dogfood” too. You will be a better company for it.
Want to use the IZEA network to produce content for you blog? Contact our team.