10 Perfectly Valid Suggestions To Help You Get Better At Blogging.
This is a quote from Bob Hoffman, one of the most enlightened communications professionals I have met so far. He’s talking about content marketing, of which blogging is a substantial part.
“Like social media marketing, content marketing is founded on the delusion that consumers are in love with brands and want to ‘join the conversation’ about brands and hear ‘branded storytelling’….Not in this lifetime…
The marketing analytics firm Beckon has recently reported that ’19 of 20 pieces of content (95%) get little to no engagement.'"
Ergo, in order to be in the exalted 5%, you really have to firing on all cylinders. Helping people achieve that lofty goal is one of the reasons I write these posts.
I wrote my first blog in 1998. Well it wasn’t a blog...it was a column. Blogs didn't really exist as blogs back then.
This column, which was typically 3000+ words, was called “The Couch Potato Chronicles”. I wrote it for 11 years and during that time I created about 450 articles, and expanded it to write about movies, TV series, the entertainment industry, books, music, advertising, photography, sports and a bit of politics, whenever I got pissed off about something.
At its peak, the Couch Potato Chronicles was reaching in excess of 7000 people.
That Was Then...This Is Now
my blog is primarily about communications and providing information and
insight, primarily to the SME community. Since I switched over in 2010,
I have written over 300 posts and have close to 2000 followers on LI
and close to 600 on beBee.
Because I am a communications writer, and I like/need to write every day, blogging comes pretty naturally to me. But for people who aren’t professional writers, that’s not always the case. This lack of writing skill makes them hesitant and tentative, and as a result, their posts lack interest among other things
Hopefully, these tips will help those people as well as some of the veterans out there:
The 8 Blogging Rules I Follow + 2 That My Associates Provided
Fear is the mind killer: Everybody can write. Not everybody can write
eloquently. Not everybody can make a cogent argument and resolve it in
But most people can basically write and if you make it a point to write every day, you will get better at it. But it requires commitment and reading the blogs you like with an eye to how they are structured.
Soon you will start to figure it out. It’s not rocket science, but the key to it is in between your ears…if you are not afraid to confront the process, then you will get better at it.
2. Write about what you know: I know a good deal about the sports I like, the TV series I like (I’ve pretty much abandoned movies), my family, my friends, and my business, which is communications.
I don’t do a lot of research because people who know me have told me that reading my writing is like listening to me talk. So I just talk about the things I know and the things I believe. This is a healthy way to approach blogging.
The idea is to build yourself into an expert in whatever it is you do. I’m trying to build my expertise in communications, which is basically a combination of the creative and the strategic, and that’s the underlying reason why I write these blogs. The surface reason is to share the insights I have learned from years of doing communications on a high level.
3. Every blog post starts with an idea: I have a list in the notepad of my computer that just contains ideas for posts. I write them down whenever they strike me. And this year, I have built up quite a formidable inventory.
You should do the same, because what most people struggle with is what to write about on their blogs. This is because they don’t think of their blog as an ongoing project and really make it a part of their life. Keep your eyes and ears open for ideas that you can transmute into posts.
They really are everywhere.
Also if you are making a number of points, like this blog, make sure that you reflect that number in your headline like I did. People, so I'm told, love lists.
4. Don’t be afraid of self-promotion: I know a lot of digital marketers will tell you it’s all about the conversation and engagement and all that other good stuff. But it’s really not. It’s about letting people know how smart you are so they will consider hiring you to do stuff for them.
A blog post is as much a dissertation on a certain topic or expansion of a certain idea as it is a piece of advertising for you. You don’t have to be all up in their face with it, but they need to know that your skill sets or your products are something that they might need.
Because if you don’t tell them, they might not figure it out and take that away with them.
5. Length really doesn’t matter: There are some people out there who believe that people don’t read more than 500 words at a time. Well, maybe that’s true if they are reading the same old crap over and over with a different slant.
But if you make your blog interesting they can be as long or as short as they need to be to make your point. If it’s interesting and tells them something, either factually or through your opinion, they’ll read it. And hopefully enjoy it. (PS this post is about 1300 words give or take)
6. Write your own stuff: I have a client for whom I edit blogs. He writes the basic draft. I go through it and punch it up a bit and then gussy it up and post it.
This kind of relationship can work well for a lot of people. It’s more affordable than hiring someone to write your blogs from scratch and it makes you look good. Nothing wrong with either of those things.
Further to Point #1. Though my client started off a bit shaky, he has gotten better and better over time and needs less and less help from me. The other thing about not writing your own stuff is that the only thing people learn from it is that you're pretty good promoting other people.
7. The only blogging rule I know is that there are no rules: Some blogs are all words and really long. Some are all words and really short. Some have lots of pictures. Others have lots of diagrams and business info. Still, others are all pictures or videos. And every permutation in between.
The only things that matter about a blog are that they are interesting, informative and that they reflect the personality of the blogger. Anything else is just bullshit digital marketing stuff.
8. Blogging Is A Process, Not An Event: 80% of everybody who starts writing their own blogs, gives it up sooner or later.
Why? Well, there are a number of reasons, but there are three key ones. 1. They're not writers, so they don't have the stubborn determination or the skill to keep up a regular and prolonged posting schedule. 2. They keep expecting that the ROI will come sooner rather than later, and get frustrated because it doesn't. 3.They become overwhelmed by the process of finding things to write about.
9. From Hilton Barbour: “Have an Opinion. Any writing without an opinion is vapid. If a blog is intended to be an extension of your business or brand, please give me a sense of what you're for and what you're against.”
10. From Viviana Laperchia: “I may want to add, support your opinion with a valid argument. It gives you credibility, regardless if your audience agrees with you. This reflects positively on your brand.”
Please bear in
mind that this is strictly my opinion, because what else would it be? I
have always tended to challenge whatever conventional wisdom was being
touted by the digital marketing community.
Why? Because despite all efforts to corral it, the Internet still is a relatively untamed frontier, where rules are really made up as we go along.
Digital marketers make rules to create the processes they sell. But I have created my own process and if you create yours then we’ll all live happily ever after in the blogosphere.
If your business has reached the point where talking to a communication professional would be the preferred option to banging your head against the wall or whatever, lets talk.
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All content copyright 2016 Jim Murray.