A blog is great medium to communicate with customers and prospects. It provides a forum that establishes credibility, trust and insight into your organization’s philosophy and personality. Part of blogging is putting yourself out there to build relationships with those who come back to your site again and again.
Search engines love blogs because they love fresh content. Every time your blog has fresh content, whether you a new wrote a post or readers commented on an old post, search engines get pinged and visit your site. This results in frequent search engine spider visits and hence, much higher optimization and SEO ranking.
Blogs have RSS (Real Simple Syndicate) functionality, which means as soon as you post your article, visitors who signed up to receive your RSS will automatically receive information about your post. They’ll then come to your site to read the post or read it in their RSS reader. The more you write, the more people will read and comment. Read more »
Blogs can give people anxiety. Honest, I’ve seen it.
Some people get squeamish when you talk about blogs because they don’t really know what one is or where to find one (not everyone will admit that, and this is less common with younger people).
We encourage a many of our clients to blog. We explain it’s a platform to offer a glimpse of their expertise. We tell clients that a good, consistent blog can help raise the visibility of their business. We explain that it lives on their website and it improves the website’s visibility overall. That usually gets them to seriously consider blogging.
There are people who are scared of committing to a blog because they don’t know what to write about, or they can’t imagine where they’ll find the time. Legitimate concerns. Who wants to start something you can’t finish? Truthfully, I’ve read several public relations and marketing firm blogs in recent years, and I’ve seen some casualties. Where there once was a blog, now there is none. And you don’t want your blog to languish (which reminds me of our Facebook page, but that’s another blog post). So, what are some tips to overcome blog anxiety?
First, if you have a team to participate, it spreads out the work. With just four people, if everyone contributes one blog a month, that’s one post a week. That’s a great start.
What to write about? Something you’ve noticed, experienced or seen that might be valuable to people in your industry, clients or potential clients. That’s a pretty broad category. I’ve started to notice “blogs” in my day-to-day business. Something that a client does or says, an event, a piece of news, results from a project, trends that emerge. There are potential blog posts everywhere. Jot them down. Blog posts are short, maybe 300 words. Write one on the airplane or in the dentist’s waiting room. Write three; unless it’s a timely event, they’ll keep.
I’ve seen firsthand that blogs improve website visibility and traffic—it’s worth overcoming the fear and taking the leap.
There are many great reasons to blog, such as “getting found” by prospective clients who are a good match for you or your organization, enhancing your reputation and brand, and building credibility, among others. One of the main hang-ups for would-be bloggers is developing content others value, and keeping at it once you start. Below are seven ways to enhance your blog content and stay on track:
1) Make a list of categories for your blog. Be strategic when creating the list. Don’t write about your dog on your business blog. Instead, brainstorm topics your prospects and customers care about. We like how-tos or trends within our industry to let folks know we are on top of issues that matter to their success.
2) List a handful of subtopics for each category. Break down the main categories described above. You can’t slice things too many times. Try to do too much in one blog post and you’ll reduce your effectiveness and ability to “get found” via search engines. Instead, be specific with your posts.
3) Create a style bank. Like reporters and copyeditors, develop and follow a style guide that keeps you consistent as you move forward.
4) Don’t be rigid—leave some room for spontaneity. Hear a great news piece on NPR on the drive to work that might be fodder for a blog post? Then get to work, take care of the post, and slot it into your schedule. A colleague blogged on the Gap logo snafu as it unfolded, and his blog got more than 1,000 reads.
5) Time yourself. If you are like most of us, you are a knowledge-based businessperson paid by the hour or project. In other words, time is money. Get your post done and move on. Perfection is a lofty goal, but unrealistic.
6) Follow an editorial calendar. Track where you’ve been and where you are going. A calendar helps you spread out content smoothly so it offers variety and predictability at the same time. One blog we assist with, EPOCH Senior Living, has a 20-post-a-month schedule. Mondays are a preview of events throughout the week while Wednesdays rotate between recipes from EPOCH chefs and favorite activities with residents from activity directors. Other days we sprinkle the blog with guest posts from senior residents (our favorites), experts and others. It is a carefully developed editorial schedule that helps us maintain balance.
7) Have someone proof your post. Nothing kills your credibility more than a post riddled with grammar and spelling problems.
Blogging takes time, but it can help differentiate you from competitors. Have other ideas on how to enhance blog content ? Share your thoughts.
On my wall is a framed quote from Arthur Schultz, former chairman of the 1960s powerhouse ad firm Foote, Cone, & Belding (think Mad Men era). The quote goes like this:
“We insist upon making a reasonable profit. This is more than just a practical question. It’s a moral question. It’s degrading to give your services away and not make a profit. It means your services aren’t valuable. It means you don’t value them yourself. It means you’re cheap. You can’t get good people to work on accounts that don’t make money. And that includes me.”
When Huffington Post, one of the most influential blogs in the world today and probably a preview of the new media landscape, was sold to AOL for $315 million, there was a sizeable uproar from the community of volunteer bloggers who contribute for free. Where’s our cut?, they asked.
Mario Ruiz, head of HuffPo’s media relations team, has been busy explaining why the corps of volunteer bloggers won’t be getting a cut any time soon in this recent post.
In a nutshell, he’s right. Huffington Post, he said, is not trying to get by for free and then reap the rewards on the backs of its free posters. Instead, they provide a news site that includes paid journalists (that’s good) and volunteer bloggers who willingly contribute insights or opinions. They employ almost 200 writers and editors. And because AOL’s new venture, Patch.com, is hiring hundreds of journalists, the number of professional journalists who contribute and oversee the site is significant.
Bottom line to the complaining bloggers: if you want compensation for blogging, negotiate a deal up front. If the site is not willing to pay for your insights or opinion, move on if the money matters to you. Many will continue to blog as they understand it helps build their brand so they can monetize the post in another way. Or, maybe they do it for altruistic reasons. Regardless, if you don’t like it, stop whining and degrading yourself and post for someone else.
Regularly delivered, quality content is the best way to build an active audience for your blog.
In a time crunch, adding a blog post probably slides its way down the priority list to just above cleaning out the dryer lint trap. Overcome the crunch with a little pre-planning.
- Draft posts in advance and schedule them at regular intervals.
- Recruit guest bloggers to fill in scheduling gaps.
- Find a new angle for content you’ve already written and work it into a post.
- Find an article that would appeal to your audience, link to it, and add a point or two for originality.
If you’re a procrastinator by nature, you might find this recent Ink Rebels post helpful. It will either provide 10 helpful tips to overcome procrastination or offer another excuse to procrastinate composing your next brilliant blog post.