I was chatting with Lee Hezzlewood from Secure Thinking (the Internet Security specialists) the other day. Lee blogs regularly because he’s immersed in his industry – he’s passionate about it and knows it inside out. He’s doing the right thing. We all used to read books by ‘authorities’ to get information, and they could be pretty stuffy at times. Nowadays, you’re much more likely to go online and find your information that way – it’s more like someone having a chat with you than attending a lecture… For instance, I’d much rather be kept up to date about web security issues by Lee than have to read it in a book, anytime.
This guide should help you figure out what you should be blogging about, and indeed, why you should blog.
If you’re serious about your business, you’ll want to access new customers, reach your audience, be able to influence your industry, market your services and communicate your vision. Your blog would be the perfect tool to achieve this.
If you’re stuck about what to blog about, take a look at your target market. I personally care about having a stream of business owners who aren’t too sure about the online technology they need to advance their business. I want them thinking they should come to me for advice, in addition to the other top companies that they’re targeting. So the first point is… analyse your target market, and write about what will interest them in your industry.
SO, who is it you want to target? I guess it’s your customers, partners and suppliers!
You want to create a reason for your customers to crowd onto your site regularly. If you’re doing something special in your industry, blog about that topic. Be a thought leader – you’re not blogging to your friends, you’re blogging to your business or customer community.
Of course, if you’re regularly putting out information that is useful and meaningful to your community, then it’s going to need to be something that you’re passionate about, that you’ve got knowledge on, and that you’re thoughtful about. And if you’re a business leader and you’re not these three things in your industry, well maybe it’s time to re-assess things a little. Yup, really!
So your first step is to create a series of articles that your community are going to find helpful. Showing you’re a thought leader is important. A bit of brainstorming won’t go amis – get a list together of 40 or 50 topics that interest you. Get it down on paper (or on laptop/smartphone). Map out the topic and get a title together for each.
If you can’t think of 40 or so topics, then maybe you’re going at it with too broad a brush. Split each topic down into 5 or 10 smaller posts. You may find that each one takes on a life of its own.
First things first – you need a blog. Where is that going to reside (digitally, on which server?). Do you want to put it onto your company website? This might make sense as the link traffic it will attract is important. But maybe you’re the head of a large company and you want your own seperate blog that can influence agencies and that you can keep more generalised. That way you can keep your views separate from your business partners’ views.
Talk in your real voice. Don’t struggle to sound smart or funny. Just be yourself. Don’t try to perfect everything – if you go down this route you’ll never hit publish. Try to get inside your readers minds and figure out how they want you to put over your valuable info. And what information do they want to hear from you?
You’re going to need a platform to blog. Some use WordPress, others use SquareSpace, Tumblr or Posterous. Some are lighweight and easier to use. If you’re struggling to set up your blog, you may want to talk to the pro’s. I say may, because actually it really is somehting you can do yourself. Bluehoop can step in and help you set things up and advise if you want (maybe more so if you want it incorporating into your existing website). Talk to us if you’d like to, but it’s really something you can do yourself if you want to go with the hosted version – you can get out there and get blogging with a free blog from WordPress.com. It’s a simple process to set up and you get your own domain (something like mycompany.wordpress.com).
You’ll see results over time. Keep at it and you’ll get more and more visitors. Try to do 600 to 1000 words in your post. If its relevent content, you’ll grow some organic traffic and your audience will grow over a time.
Building an audience is important. Writing good blog posts is important, but then you’ve got to get them out to people. This is a great use for Twitter – tweet your posts everytime you create one. 8.30am to 9.30am Monday to Friday is a great time to be sending out Tweets as that’s when most people are online. You can also automate the whole process using Twitterfeed (which will also send it direct to your Facebook account). Then email a few friends and let them know you’ve started a blog. A ‘wanted to let you know about my new blog’ email is perfect and could work wonders. Ask a few people who you’re close to, to reTweet your Tweet. Not too many, but you’ll get some more exposure that way. Get a coloured link underneath your email signature as well.
Well, if you really are knowledgable and passionate about your subject, then it’s probably a good bet that you can push out more material than you think.
You probably won’t have the time to blog at work. We’ve all got meetings, and tons of things to do during the day. I’m writing this at 10pm at night. Instead of watching the telly (which is on in the background). I’ve even tried to get up at 5.30 am to get something done at that time, but there always seems to be a compelling reason not to do it when the alarm goes off. Funny, that.
It helps if you structure things first – create some headings to start you off. Maybe it’ll take you 45 minutes or an hour to come up with something that you then re-read and check for spelling errors. Pop in an image and Bob’s your uncle – instant blog post!
Keep at the back of your mind what would it mean to you and your business if you could increase traffic to your website, enhance your company (and personal) brand and meet influential people who suddenly know who you are. It takes time and effort, but it’s all available to you.