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Getting There: Solar Blogging the Right Way Works

04/01/13

  09:05:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 711 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Ranting

Getting There:
Solar Blogging the Right Way Works

Writing a solar blog takes time and considerable effort and we are often asked, “Is it worth it?"  We think the answer is “YES!” but it is always nice to have a little data to back up one’s beliefs.  Check this out!

The Long Slog

We started writing this blog back in October of 2009.  By that time, Run on Sun had been in business for three years and our website - which is in a constant state of evolution - was on its third iteration.  As proclaimed by solar marketing guru and blogging evangelist, Tor (”@SolarFred“) Valenza, adding a blog to our website was perhaps the most important thing that we could do to improve our brand.  Indeed, writing a blog on a consistent basis (more on that point in a moment) was a great way for your brand to gain public awareness, help establish your credibility (provided that what you wrote was credible), and drive traffic to your website - or so we were told.

(Note to rip-off artists - this is a process to an end, there are no shortcuts!)

Tor made it sound so desirable - and fun! - that I knew that we had to give it a shot.  After all, going into the start of our blog writing campaign we were seeing less than 500 unique visitors per quarter!  We certainly needed to do something!

Payoff!

Turns out, writing on a consistent basis is really hard, even if you enjoy writing.  We would go through periods when we would manage a significant number of posts in a month, only to see it slip off in the months following.  Although the blog never went dark, it was hard to average more than a post or so per week. (And no, that really wasn’t tied to how busy we were - turns out having lots of installs going on gives you more to write about!)

Of course, at least one compilation of blogging statistics from last year suggests that while 60% of businesses have a company blog, only 35% of those get updated once a month and a whopping 65% haven’t been updated in over a year!  So our plodding along at one post a week put us ahead of the pack, but it still hadn’t taken us to the promised land.

Going into this year we decided to up our game.  We established a goal of having a new post five times per week (still an aspirational target) to see what that would do to our web traffic.  We just closed out the first quarter, here’s how we are doing:

getting there

This graph shows unique visitors to the Run on Sun website (which includes our blog) from 1Q09 through 1Q13 on the dark green line (the straight green line is the growth trend over that time).  The gray bars are the number of blog posts per quarter, starting in 2009.  Prior to this year, we had only exceeded 30 posts in a quarter twice - in the third and fourth quarters of 2011 - and our unique visitors metric was showing steady growth.  But we took our collective eyes off the ball in 2012 and our growth in traffic not only stalled, but dropped off dramatically.

Which brings us to the quarter just closed.  Last quarter we had 48 blog posts, averaging 3.7 posts per week - more than three times as many as we had done in 4Q12.  The dramatic bend in the curve of unique visitors is our reward - we went from 3,937 unique visitors in 4Q12 to 7,651 last quarter! I guess it’s true - if you write it, they will come!  Indeed, we now average more visitors per day to our website than we were averaging per month when we started this experiment back in 2009.

But no, it hasn’t been easy.  Even with a full court press, we still haven’t hit our 5 posts a week target - in fact, we are slipping with January having the largest number of posts of any month so far this year.  Still, looking at the data helps renew our resolve to get those posts out there in a timely fashion.  After all, we would love to see what happens if we can keep that trajectory moving skyward!  (We will leave it to you, our readers - to whom we are so grateful - to let us know if we are achieving Tor’s other goals.)

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Comment from: stefania [Member]  
5 stars
stefaniaIt is rare to see such dramatic, truly “graphic” results- definitely shows you are on the right path. Also interesting to read about the vicissitudes of maintaining your blog productivity- probably a challenge faced by all writers when staring at a blank page or computer screen! In spite of the obstacles, you continue to impress, Jim, with your newsworthy contributions and your ability to make staying current in the solar world, not only possible, but interesting. Kudos to you and your consistent efforts- keep climbing upward!
04/03/13 @ 07:44
Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
In addition, Run on Sun offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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