For all of you who currently have a blog or are looking to implement a blog on your website, below are some practical tips to help you in your blogging efforts.
I grabbed these practical tips off of an article I was reading this morning by Mark Suster, who is a partner at GRP Partners, a Venture Capital firm in Los Angeles. Suster states that he is often asked by entrepreneurs and business owners whether blogging is worth it, and if so, what they should blog about. He goes on to explain that "you must blog as an entrepreneur." That blogging in your business is vital to creating a public personae and making your company more accessible; it is a valuable networking tool and it helps the bottom line.
Although the tips sound easy enough to implement and might look like common sense, my advice would be to seriously consider each point in isolation.
I have jotted down my own insights after each main point - taking it one step further by adding a strategic element.
On a completely separate note - it is time to clean off the patio! It looks like we are going to be having some extremely mild weather this week and that equals "time well spent" outside enjoying a cup of coffee.
Source: Mark Suster - he blogs at Both Sides of the Table and can be found on Twitter at @msuster.
So you know you need to blog, and you're convinced you ought to write about something you're passionate about and that speaks to your customers. How can you create something that people will want to come and read every day?
1. Be authentic
The thing that kills most blogs, in my view, is when you can tell that the writer is just going through the motions. You need to find a "voice" that is authentically yours. People will get used to your style and your style will become your signature.
CBB Insight. Now establishing a voice is more than just sticking to a particular style of writing. Firstly, you need to establish what point of view you are writing the blog from; are you an individual representing yourself, are you representing the company as a whole, or are you representing a particular facet of the company? Secondly, you need to identify the purposes and goals of the blog; what purposes does the blog serve between the company and the reader? These are two basic questions that are often overlooked and as a result blogging becomes ineffective at achieving results.
2. Be transparent
The "old school" way of getting media attention was to submit press releases. These were artificially crafted documents that were filled with glowing reviews of your company. In short, they felt fake. The best way to establish your voice is to be transparent.
Be willing to talk like a human being. Be willing to show feelings and a point of view. Let your inner self come out rather than your "inner bullet point." Don't use too much lingo. Don't feel like your writing has to sound like it was crafted by a university professor. Just speak!
CBB Insight. This is a great tip! I think this is probably one of the biggest hinderances to entrepreneurs blogging. Like he said, your writing doesn't have to sound like it was crafted by a university professor! On the other hand, I would also state that your blog posts shouldn't look like a child wrote them either! Part of your blogging strategy should be to put in place "safe guards or boundaries" to the level of transparency you will work within. The last thing you want is your blog looking like your personal journal entry. Determining an appropriate boundary stems from the establishment of the blog's authenticity.
3. Get inside your readers' minds
I give this advice often and in many scenarios, including public speaking. When people speak to many audiences, they sometimes get into a routine. They give the same presentation no matter which crowd they're addressing. The key is that each time you present, you need to think about who is in the audience and what they want to hear. The same is true for blogging.
On my blog, my audience is made of startup entrepreneurs and probably other VCs. When I write I try to be mindful of who these people are, the knowledge I assume they have, and what I believe they want to know.
CBB Insight. Do you keep your target audience in mind? This is a big one. My suggestion is this - take out a piece of paper and identify your primary audience by answering these questions - if they were a celebrity who would they be? (male/female), if they were a car what kind of car would they be?, what part of the city would they live in?, what kind of a lifestyle do they have (adventurous, laid-back, spontaneous, strategic, etc...)?, if they were a computer would they be a Mac or a PC? I know that these questions might sound a bit ridiculous, but the answers to these questions will actually provide you with a greater perspective as to what your audience is attracted to and will help you establish a "style" they can identify with.
4. Solicit feedback
I ask people what they want to read about. I regularly ask for feedback on what I'm writing. When people give me good suggestions, I try to cover those topics.
When community members write awesome comments, I'll sometimes write a post about what they said to highlight them and their contributions. In my opinion, the best way to build an audience over time is to engage with them and to highlight those that really contribute positively to you.
CBB Insight. If you are going to solicit feedback be prepared to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. Soliciting feedback is important, but beware - make sure you aren't gobbling up and swallowing all of the feedback given to you. The majority of people providing feedback to you will likely not have a perspective of the blog's purpose and goals. It is your responsibility to carefully assess feedback and implement it where implementation brings the blog in-line with its overall purpose.
5. Don't be offensive or take big public risks
I read a blog yesterday where the author was trying to make fun of a negative comment he got on his product. The blogger highlighted him and called him a crude name - which I, and I'm sure many others, find offensive. There's no upside to this type of comment, but there's a big downside. My esteem for him went down.
Further, unless your company revolves around taking stands on controversial issues, it's best to leave your political commentary at home. Statements like these stand to upset or anger half of your potential customers no matter what side you take.
CBB Insight. Be sure to establish guidelines regarding how you will handle negative comments about your products/services online. Keep to your strategy for having a blog in the first place. Remember that the blog is an extension of your brand image and ensure that whatever you blog about won't tarnish it!
6. Have fun
This may be obvious, but if writing a blog becomes a chore for you it will show. Try to make your writing fun and it will be easier to stick to. It will also reflect in your voice.
CBB Insight. First thing is first - if you aren't the least bit interested in what you are blogging about then I assure you - no one else will be either! Again going back to the foundation - be sure that you are writing about topics that connect to the audience, reflect the business, and are a personal area of interest for yourself. I advise against simply adding "blogging" to the list of TO DOs each week. Blogging should be fun and it should be a vehicle for you to share engaging information. If you can't bare to read your blog post a few times after posting - that is a clear indication that you need to start over!