Scott Yates was an award winning journalist, author and writing instructor in New York and Colorado before he started venturing into the world of start-ups. After founding two successful internet companies, Scott founded Blogmutt with his longtime technical partner, Wade Green.
Blogmutt is a crowdsourced blog writing service. Writers provide blog content for businesses with blogs, but the people at that business just don’t have time to write the blog posts.
MO: I’ve never heard of a crowdsourced blog writing service before, can you explain how Blogmutt works?
Scott: Sure. First, maybe just a bit of background about crowdsourcing:
The nut of the idea is that a crowd of people is collectively better than any one individual person at getting complicated things done. One of the most famous examples is Wikipedia, which is not written by one corporation or one publisher, but by anyone that wants to contribute, and while it has its issues, there’s no question that it’s bigger and more immediately useful than any encyclopedia in history. Crowdsourcing makes that possible.
Within the world of crowdsourcing there are some different flavors, and we are distributed task workforce. Here’s what that means for us: Customers tell us about their business blogs, and we have a crowd of writers who look at that blog and write what they think the owner of each blog will like to see. The customers then pick their favorite post once per week. One important note about that: Even if a customer doesn’t like a blog post the first week, he or she can offer suggestions and the writer can improve it. Over time about 90 percent of the posts written by Blogmutt get used.
MO: How common is it that companies feel pressure to start a blog and then feel too intimidated or are too busy to update it?
Scott: All. The. Time.
It’s why Blogmutt is in business. We hear this from businesses large and small, online and retail, high-tech and old fashioned. They all understand that it’s just not enough to have a site any more. They know this because they all use the internet to research potential vendors, and if they are looking at two sites, they like the one with fresh content and worry about the one that may look nice but you have no idea when it was last updated.
Even worse is people that start a blog because all the advice is that they should start a blog and then six months go by with no post. Potential customers look at that and wonder if the business is still in business.
The heart of the problem is that for most people writing is hard Hard HARD! Doing taxes is hard, too, so most people hire someone to do it. Now they can hire someone to get their writing done, too.
MO: How can your writers come up with knowledgeable blog posts when they aren’t part of the business that they’re writing for? Doesn’t blogging require some personal experience of the place or product that you’re blogging about?
Scott: My first job out of college was at the Durango (Colo.) Herald. I was young, and didn’t know anything about anything, and yet there I was writing front-page stories about health care, education, all this stuff that I had no idea what the heck I was talking about. I figured it out, though. It’s the same thing here.
Our writers are really good writers, so they just have to do a bit of research to come up with a post that’s about the topic of the business because these are business blogs, not personal blogs. The writers do not write posts that say, for example, “I just had lunch with my girlfriend and we were talking about…” Instead they write posts that start with: “Here’s an interesting story about the gazebo (or whatever) business from the Wall St. Journal, and here’s how it connects to our home town.”
MO: How many writers do you currently employ and how do you find them?
Scott: Because we are a true crowdsourcing company, we don’t actually “employ” any writers. They are all freelance, and they all write whenever they feel like it. They get to pick whom they want to write for, how long, everything. Currently we have about 60, but not all of those write every week.
Nobody, yet, is making a full-time living off this. Our writers tell us that they like three things: The professional development, The pay, and The personal growth. We call it the three Ps, but for each writer those three are in a different order in terms of what they get out of Blogmutt.
As for finding the writers, well, it’s not hard to find writers looking for freelance work; most of them find us.
MO: What lessons did you learn from your previous companies that you were able to apply when creating Blogmutt?
Scott: Wade and I have been through good and bad times, so we kind of understand the ups and downs of startups and we are pretty even-keeled about it all. We also understand that if we don’t make something that absolutely delights the customers, we won’t have a business. We don’t have a zillion dollars in Venture Capital, and that’s made us stronger as a company because we live or die by customers being happy with what we are doing.
MO: What are the biggest advantages of having a blog? Is there a general rule of thumb of how often they should be updated?
Scott: I read a marketing guru recently who said that you should value a blog post at $500. Every blog post you have is worth $500 in what you might spend otherwise on advertising or whatever.
There are two key reasons for that value: SEO and what I call “currency.” The SEO advantages are clear. If you have a business that you want to rank for niche or local keywords, then a regular blog is the absolute cornerstone of your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Part of what Google now uses in its algorithms is how often a site gets updated. The more often the better, but for most businesses once a week is a good average.
What I mean by “currency” is just how current is your site? As I mentioned before, customers just expect that a site will have something on it at least once a week. Blogmutt customers tell me that their customers are looking at the posts, and talk about them, so it gives the company and the customer something to talk about. The more they can engage their customers, or potential customers, the better chance they have of creating a great business relationship.
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