This seems to be one of the most oft asked questions I receive. It typically comes right after, “I want to start a blog.” Most often this comes from the fact that this person has heard the term “blog” so many times, they feel like they are missing the bandwagon and need to get on board. “Bobby has a blog so that means I need one too.” Well Bobby may just be more interesting than you!
Having a blog is one of the easiest things to do, but one of the hardest things to do well. The first shocker I give people is to tell them it is not a marketing tactic. Blogging is a way to create transparency and, most importantly, start a dialog. It would be like asking someone ” would you like to chat” and then after they say yes proceeding to give a long lecture about how so dang cool you are. Simply maddening.
So why have a blog and how do you do it right? The first step is to first have a cause – a compelling reason to write. As I have often said to clients, customers buy products but evangelists buy causes. They buy into something. And no, selling more stuff is not a cause. Come up with a higher, holier calling about what you do.
Step 2 is to explore the cause. Make it conversational. Explore the different opinions on the topic. Ask for input and feedback. Make it stream of consciousness.
Also, remember the key rule of blogging – make it compelling. That means you need to piss them off, make them laugh, tug on their heart strings, or spark their interest in some way.
Don’t blog just because some marketing guy told you to. Blog because you are passionate about something. Blog because you have some expertise in a particular area. Blog because you want to change the world in some small way.
There are a lot of bloggers out there with some great success. What do you find makes a good blog?
I’ve been reading blogs, especially knitting blogs, for the last two years or so, and it seems as though the most successful bloggers are the ones who post consistently – usually with a good amount of text in an informal style, and almost always with pictures. These are the ones that are always the most interesting to read – the pictures catch your eye, and then you’re drawn to the text to find out the story behind it. And a sense of humor is always, always appreciated.
Great comment, Cory. I agree with you that consistent content and humor are critical to the success of a blog. Pictures also help tell the story in ways words cannot. While I must admit that I am not the most consistent, I try and lighten the mood a bit when I post.
The blogs I enjoy reading the most are snarky or sarcastic and wildly entertaining.
I’ve been resistant to the whole blog thing–I read computer screens while I work, but when I read for recreation and mental stimulation, I read books, paper pages, not computer screens…. Why should I care what someone else thinks about whatever–and why would I expect anyone else to care what I think, if neither of us have passed the screening process of publication?
I’m impressed that blogging is in many ways a computer-age version of older, more intimate forms of communication and connections–the sort of musing and exchange of ideas that took place at salons in Ben Johnson’s and Swift’s day–or the creative back and forth of Shakespeare’s age. A fluid, dynamic, and interwoven spread of creativity and thought.
So I remain somewhere between those two perspectives: still a little uncomfortable with blogging while intellectually intrigued….
Interesting take, Ellyn. I can understand the resistance. However, I think you nailed it when you pointed out that blogging is the computer-age version of more intimate forms of communication.
This is largely where the term Web 2.0 comes from. When it first launched, the web was largely one-way communications. Blogging is simply an online journal. It still provides the one to many communications that are inherent with the Internet. However, it also provides the ability for people to become engaged; one-on-one communication.
Visit my post called “A Collection of Coffee Shops” for a very similar take on the web as a collection of people sitting around chatting, just like in a coffee shop.