Once upon a time, blogs were all about referring readers elsewhere. This was back in the days when they were known by their full name of "weblogs." A typical weblog would serve as a link-enabled guide to all the cool, helpful and otherwise interesting sites or news stories the blogger discovered -- a sort of mini-directory of sites related to the blogger's (and presumably the reader's) primary interests.
Over time, bloggers began commenting on the sites, and those comments eventually took the center stage as technology made it easier for a wide range of people and companies to make their voices heard. Suddenly your blog could serve as an editorial column, a how-to archive, a promotional page, or the instigator of an ongoing interactive conversation. Business owners realized that their blogs could help them establish an online reputation as the reigning expert on a particular subject, while also encouraging readers to explore the rest of the company's site for related products and services.
Why, then, do so many company blogs read like throwbacks to the late 1990s? You know what I mean: You click on, say, a financial website to read about the latest big economic news story, and the blog article there simply refers you over to a generic story from CNN or Money or whoever. Or if that website has posted on the subject, it's simply a retread of the same information, or a general overview that you could find anywhere else. I imagine this occurs because the person tasked with creating the blog content simply doesn't have time to compose original literary gems on a regular basis, so the company either outsources the work to "writer mills" or links to articles hosted on another business's site.
And the reader is left thinking, "Yeah, but how did you feel about the story?" And you've blown an opportunity to demonstrate your industry wisdom and insight.
When you compose an article for your business's blog, stop and think about how the subject matter relates to the business's mission, vision, products/services and viewpoint. Then weave that voice into the text alongside all the generic who-did-what-to-whom-and-what-do-the pundits-say-about-it stuff. What do you say about it -- and how does that opinion color your recommendations and solutions for concerned readers?
If you can't get your opinions out there with the necessary skill in a timely manner, then you can still outsource the actual writing. But instead of simply throwing that job out to the lowest bidder on a big, impersonal content board, forge a genuine relationship with a professional writer who can actually get to know your business. When I ghost-blog for clients, I take the time to learn about their unique value proposition, experience and perspective on what they do. This allows me to spin your article so that it doesn't just relay the facts, but it also presents your opinion, your personality, your conclusions, and of course your brand. That's the difference between simply referring readers to other people's expertise and dazzling those readers with your own.
In my opinion.