I recently watched Kevin Rose’s Foundation interview with Ev Williams of Blogger, Twitter, and now Medium fame. (When you have time, go watch the interview—it’s worth the hour of your time.) Kevin masterfully worked through with Ev about the founding of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium. I was inspired by the original purpose of Blogger, the individual empowerment that has been created by the prominence of the weblog (blog) and its importance in today’s businesses. I also started thinking about how blogging has become so prolific that it often losses its effectiveness among small businesses.
Not long ago, if you wanted to deliver a story, message, or instructions to a current or potential customer you would have sent them a postcard, made a phone call, or met in person. Now, thanks to the internet, we can communicate instantly to potentially dozens of people (I have modest goals about how many people are actually reading this). Blogging has become the champion of inbound marketers everywhere and a necessity (or requirement, depending on which side of the management desk you are sitting on) for all businesses.
However, even though everybody is doing it, it doesn’t mean it is being done well. We all agree it’s powerful. We all agree content needs to be dispensed well and effectively. What we don’t agree on is what should be written about and how we should write. So, pull up a chair; I am going to get up on my soapbox for a few minutes. Here are a few thoughts to help all of us blog with a purpose and to be more effective in our inbound marketing ventures.
Don’t just write. Write with a purpose.
Your business has a brand. Your business has a purpose. Your business’ blog should be part of your brand management and have clear goals. Don’t just write for the sake of filling space—start by telling why your blog exists. It is not effective to write blog posts and articles just because you want more words on your website in search of the holy grail of Google optimization. If you aim at nothing you will always hit it. Establishing a purpose helps you write toward an audience and develop a tone and voice. A purpose can be as simple as “I want to write about knitting and general crafting” or as specific as “I want to inspire teenagers to begin the habit of saving money” (I wish I would have read that blog when I was 18). You can say anything on your personal blog, but on your business’ blog you must become strategic to engage an audience that could become clients and customers (and stay that way).
If your blog is fulfilling its purpose, each individual post will have a purpose as well. Do you have a story to tell? Do you have wisdom to impart? Can you give a review that will be helpful to your audience? Write every post with an objective. Give yourself a goal and start writing.
Sew seeds instead of selling products.
If they found your website and read your blog, you don’t have to end every post with a call-to-action that aggressively affects your bottom line. You don’t have to say, “Buy my widget.” Consider your blog a planter of seeds. You are planting the seeds that will hopefully grow into leads, sales, or new clients.
Remember, it’s not a textbook. Tell stories and reference other content.
You don’t always need to give three points and a call-to-action. Sometimes a personal story, a powerful anecdote, or reviewing or highlighting other people’s content can do more than a dogmatic list of self-serving tasks. Start watching how people use your products, tell stories from others, and use your blog to be a model, not just a tutorial or textbook.
Quality or quantity?
Yes. Do both. Write original, impacting thoughts and write them well. If you need help, get help. (Maybe you shouldn’t have made fun of the English majors in college.) I am the one writing these words, but in a few minutes, this post will end up in the hands of our content team. They ensure the quality of my writing so that it makes sense, uses proper grammar, and represents the standards of 212 Media Studios. (Thanks, content team!)
Some businesses need more than one blog.
If your business is expansive, you may want to create a few different blogs within your website. This allows you to further organize your written content by category and/or audience. For instance, Google has blogs for nearly every product it offers, as well as multiple other official blogs.
Now go forth and tell us your stories, inspire us, and amaze us with your purposeful blog posts. Do you have examples of effective blogs? Post them in the comments below. (I promise we won’t bite.)
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