Blogging: Get Serious or Get Off the Net!
You're likely to find this blog post bleeping ironic. I'll tell you why and perhaps even shoo you away.
You see, I'm a content marketing maniac. Really. I write, speak about, and earn a pittance actually doing content marketing. I do some form of it to promote my own company every day. As you might expect, I'm a blog evangelist of the highest order.
However, in this article I hope to talk you out of adding a blog to your arsenal if you don't fully get with the program. And the truth is, many millions of blogs clog the arteries of the Internet now. Most really don't get with the program. A typical blog post may have 3,000 or more characters, but zero character.
This is an article about online marketing.
No surprise there, right? You're at the website of a company that's developed power tools for online marketing. Forgive me for saying so, gracious hosts of this post, but Marketo marketing software is far from free. It's not for chumps. It's for serious online marketers.
Blogging is too.
Do you think it's obligatory to blog?
C'mon now. Confess. You've been reading about how online marketing demands that you host a blog. Your competitors all have them. What a travesty it would be if you don't.
I beg to differ.
I speak from experience. I don't mean to say I'm the world's best known, most subscribed to, or most accomplished blogger, because the truth would prove such assertions to be lies.
But I do all right. I started blogging about two years ago on my website. Soon after, I began gaining traction by contributing to a smattering of highly trafficked sites and today my ramblings are published by a good many of the web's foremost authorities on online marketing.
I get asked to write for marketing blogs often. I usually agree, but seldom get paid for the gigs. I do them for a good reason though - and I'll soon get into that.
But first, I also want to mention I also get offered paid blogging gigs all the time.
Lo and behold, I tend to not take them. What? Why?
Am I in it for the money?
Damn straight I am. So why would I dive headfirst into the non-paid gigs and decline the corporate gigs that might pay some bills?
The non-paid opportunities - guest blogs - are marketing gold. I get access to bigger audiences, build my reputation as a content marketer and writer, drive traffic to my site, get leads, and land new accounts.
Corporate blogs seldom realize the same fate. Oh sure, you'll find ample research reports and infographics singing the praises of online marketers that blog. And yeah, the numbers prove those who blog often generate much more website traffic.
Here's the rub. Often, far too often, those who blog don't take blogging seriously. All they care about is traffic. And there's no reason to treasure traffic when the road leads to trash.
Yes, trash is what I'm calling most corporate blogs. I'm serious.
Are you serious?
I should admit I don't decline every paid blogging opportunity. In fact, my company is responsible for quite a few blogs now. If a client takes blogging seriously, I'm in. So the question is, What do serious bloggers do?
Plan: "We're going to host a blog so we can create content" is not a plan. Your blogging plan calls for establishing marketing objectives, examining your market, identifying the kind of content that will resonate with readers, and putting the pieces in place to create it.
Research: Some of the research you do for your blog will be of the traditional demographic and psychographic variety, but you need to think digital and profile the online behaviors of the types of customers you serve. Also, you must thoroughly research your competition and identify how to tell your story uniquely.
Study: "Fire, ready, aim" seems to be the call of reckless bloggers around the world who never took the time to learn how it's done. If you're new to blogging and want your efforts to deliver results, please, read some blogs, guides, and books to learn how to blog effectively and meet your online marketing goals.
Add value: Give me just one copper penny for every blog post focused on a product feature or company announcement and my retirement begins today. I'm not saying "Thou shalt never deliver company updates," but I am saying your blog is not a brochure nor should it be the news section of your site. Your blog should be a customer-centric resource that consistently delivers valuable insights and advice.
Put SEO in its place: SEO can certainly get complex, but serious bloggers simplify it into two critical concepts: 1) it's important to understanding how to research and apply keywords to increase success; and 2) readers outrank robots.
However useful search optimization techniques may be, the prose needs to please people.
Look good: Did some blogging authority somewhere say it's okay for your blog to look like crap? It's not. Serious blogs feature attractive typography, ample white space, interesting images, and smart and simple page layout.
Get around: After having published a mini-portfolio of great posts, it's time to find guest blog opportunities at sites other than your own. Every serious blogger I know of embraces opportunities to contribute articles to reputable websites (which often expose your thoughts to larger audiences than yours).
Opine: I submit serious bloggers have strong opinions and consistently deliver a point of view. As a reader, I'm far more engaged when the writer takes chances (whether I agree or not).
Connect: Far more so than the centuries of journalism that pre-dated blogs, what we have here is a two-way street. You should seriously attempt to connect on a personal level, solicit questions and comments, and respond to readers who engage with your work.
Promote: You put a ton of effort into creating a great post and then don't take advantage of the many free, low-cost, and easy ways to promote and share it with social media (and beyond)? You cannot be serious.
Measure: Blogging is marketing. To take it seriously is to determine meaningful metrics and pay close attention to them in an effort to perpetually improve the content and engagement factors.
Invest: This is the point I most want to get across in this article. To take blogging seriously is to invest the time and money it takes to make your blog great: the platform, process, design - each of the things I've mentioned thus far - and, most of all, the writing.
Tell me why you want to have a blog.
Want to build authority in your field? Develop a loyal community? Help your customers? Offer ideas? Collect ideas? Converse? There are so many great reasons to have a blog.
Keeping up with the Joneses isn't one of them.
You might have learned you should have one. With all the attention blogging has gotten in today's amazing content race, perhaps it feels like you're obliged to blog.
If you're not going to be a great blogger, be a non-blogger. Hold your head high. Accept no shame. The alternative is to host another mind-numbing, run-of-the-mill blog no one really cares to read.
Now that would be a shame.
Barry Feldman is a copywriter, creative director, content marketing creator and consultant. If you would like a piece of his mind, visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point. Recent publications include "The Plan to Grow Your Business with Effective Online Marketing" and "Strike a Chord: Lessons for Making Your Web Content Resonate." Contact him at 916-984-9988 or by email.
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