“Blogs are part of a social network where the generous thrive.” (p. 9 in Blogging Best Practices).
How many social media enthusiasts who say blogging is critical will it take to convince you? For as many bloggers as there are, there are just as many who choose not to participate in blogging or do so haphazardly, at best.
As one who compassionately counsels both clients and friends on all things marketing and the value of integrating social media elements such as blogs, I like what Andy Wibbels and Peter Flaschner, hosts of BusinessBlogBasics seminars, suggest: “Everybody who is anybody in business is blogging. Shouldn’t you?”
Let us assume that you admit you should be blogging and have established a blog that – once set up with an appealing design and a few bells and whistles – is surprisingly easy to maintain. Now what?
In order to move forward with the fewest detours, you must answer the following "starter" questions:
1. What does maintaining a blog mean to you?
2. Did you map out blog-maintenance strategies before or after set-up?
3. How will you know you are succeeding?
In doing research for this article–I read especially voraciously for days before landing on a focus. This is not about recapping blogging basics. It is my personal and professional manifesto about why I love blogging as a tool to get the word out and help your existing and prospective clients find you.
The point is to help your readers quickly learn who and what you are, what you care about, and begin to build trust and rapport.
A sticking point for many of my peers and clients is the perception that blogging is hard and too time-consuming, especially since
- they already spend too much time on the computer,
- do not really have time for Facebook,
- do not ‘get’ Twitter quite yet, and
- are not clear on how to make the most of LinkedIn.
(These are just a few of the best social networks on which to create and regularly update an active profile.)
It does not need to be "a time monster" and I am known to evangelize on this, one person at a time when I encounter a ‘reticent blogger’ who may simply need a little support.
When I myself took a four-month, full-time position, my own blog was left to collect dust, but I NEVER felt good about my abandonment of it. We all manage to make time for the things we deem important, right?
Below you will find my best simple advice, the same that I would first prescribe for myself.
1. Plan to be Consistent
It is important to plan how much you will be committed to blogging consistently, be it once a week or more. If you cannot attend to your blog weekly, what can you reasonably commit to?
It has been suggested that optimal blogging means posting two to three times a week. I would agree if the content is interesting, topical, compelling, and relevant to your themes. It is important to give as much thought to how frequently you will blog, as you did your design and presentation.
2. Plan to be Content-rich
Although printed publications are regarded as archaic as digital offerings multiply by the hour, one valuable tool of this ‘archaic’ system should not be left behind: editorial planning. If you are really stuck, consider brainstorming with peers to capture all of your great ideas well in advance. Organize them and rely on this list of timeless ideas if a more recent theme is eluding you. Thoughtful content is recognized!
3. Plan to be Congruent
According to Wikipedia, “In psychology and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), congruence could be defined as rapport within oneself, or internal and external consistency, perceived by others as sincerity or certainty.”
I appreciate congruency in any writer’s tone and voice, and it is pretty darn impressive when you meet that individual and find out they sound like they write. Congruency also accelerates a reader’s enthusiasm to read more and follow a blogger.
The question to ask yourself is, what is your authentic voice? Speaking or writing with that voice makes achieving consistency much easier.
And one last tip for first-timers about to start or those revitalizing a ‘dusty’ blog: monitor and benchmark what you are doing to see how it is working and so you know what to refine as you go.
One of my favorite tools for monitoring and benchmarking is an online tool offered at http://My.ComMetrics.com – try it and use it and see what you learn about your blog as it compares to like blogs.
The Key Take-aways
As an avid blog reader, I appreciate:
1. Great content showcased in design that is easy on the eyes,
2. A writing style that reflects who the author is, and
3. A blog that offers me things I want to keep coming back for.
The above prescription goes into action for this dormant blogger on April 1, 2010, and I invite anyone to hold me accountable to report and post a meaningful piece at least once a week.
More resources about blogging, best practice and what benchmarking is worth to you that struck me:
The BlogHerald – 100 Helpful Stories
ComMetrics – Social media: Metrics to know and metrics to skip FAQ #1
The Bottom Line
Is there a fresh opportunity to establish more credibility by being consistent and congruent with good content that inspires livelier interaction and truly engages readers? And just whom will you attract if you do?
Whether you are a private or corporate blogger, whether you blog alone or as part of a group, realize that now is the best time to re-evaluate your reasons for blogging. Then commit to doing so with purpose.
Blogging on purpose can and will work. Especially when you plan even just a light and supportive structure for yourself. Happy Blogging be it for your company or yourself, as an individual or as part of team blogging for the same purpose.