For consultants, and others who make their living selling their time and expertise (lawyers, accountants, etc.), knowledge is their most precious resource. It’s why people pay them high hourly rates and why others need them in the first place.
Without this specialized knowledge, they have no job, no money and no career.
This causes many to protect their information resources closely. Many consultant sites are standoffish, static ads that list services provided, referrals and a few sales pitches but not much more. In most fields, few have blogs and even fewer write about their industry.
As someone who has worked full time as a consultant for two years and as a blogger for four, I see this as a huge mistake. Though some consultants, including SEO ones, seem to have blogs all over the place, its time for other industries to get involved as well.
The reasons are pretty simple.
SEO constultants blog because they know that fresh, high-quality content is the fastest way to rank well in the search engines. Period. When someone goes to find an expert in a field, they will likely start with a Web search and, to many, a good ranking in Google can matter more than all of the testimonials in the world.
Search engines love blogs and, even better, blog posts create inbound links, which further increases ranking.
More content and more links equal better rankings and that, in turn, means more clients.
2. Reputation, Respect and PR
Even if you’re an established consultant, there is a good chance that others do not know who you are. When they look for information about, possibly after hearing about you on Google (see above), they’ll want to know what you’ve done or what sets you apart.
Testimonials on your site are great, but even better are sites that publicly link to your content, mentions of yourself in the mainstream press/major blogs and other public accolades. These endorsements are both searchable and verifiable, making them more valuable to a potential client.
However, it is very difficult to get those accolades without a strong Web presence and that, in turn, is hard to build with regularly updated content to keep people’s interest.
3. Be the Expert
Having a blog and posting well-written, informative articles is much more effective than posting advertising copy saying that you are an expert. It’s the difference between saying you’re doing something and actually doing it.
Having all of the expertise in the world only matters if others know you have it. Blogging is a great way to show, not tell about, that knowledge.
4. Your Site Isn’t Your Competition
The worry many have is that potential customers will come to their blog, find the information they need and then leave without paying a penny, thus resulting in lost sales.
However, if text on a Web site is enough to fill a potential client’s need, odds are they can find the information just about anywhere with a little bit of research.
Is it better for these “freeloaders” to find their information elsewhere or to visit your site, get good information there, and learn your name for when other issues arise later?
Getting your name out there is important, especially when starting out and blogging is a great way to do that relatively quickly.
5. Informed Clients are Better Clients
Though it might seem like a consultant would have more to offer a less knowledgeable client, that doesn’t always pan out. Clients with less understanding tend to less fully appreciate the services offered. This causing them to create more headaches, demand lower rates and end contracts quicker.
With knowledge and information comes a mutual respect that leads to a much more productive and, often, more long-term relationship. Sometimes the only way to get this information into a client’s hand is to give it away for free.
Though it can be understandably unnerving to give away for free what you hope to sell later, doing so can be vital to growing your name and your brand. Needless to say you shouldn’t give away absolutely everything you do, but you’ll likely find that there is a great deal you can part with without sacrifice.
Still, it’s important to remember that consultants aren’t just hired for their knowledge. Their hired to do work. Whether that’s draft reports, advise on a specific situation or provide an analysis or come up with a plan, there is actual work and time involved. That is something that you can never give away on a site.
Yes, your knowledge is important. But as a consultant of any variety, it is your service, not your info, that is the real product.
If you remember that, showcasing your knowledge becomes a lot easier.