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So, you think you can blog. Being online (Part 3)

working-design-so-you-think-you-can-blog
The third item in our series about being effective online looks at three key things you need to consider if you want to start a blog.

You’ve decided to boost your online profile and launch yourself into the blogosphere. Good luck! It’s busy out there. Your many challenges include writing smart stuff, standing out from the crowd and inspiring an audience that not only sticks with you, but grows.

1. What your blog should be about.

Whether you’re a research institute, small business, not for profit organization or a solo act, you need to tell your story to your audience one blog post at a time. What do you do and what is your field of expertise? How is it going to help your reader, client or prospective member?

“Content is king” we all say in the writing biz. Zoom in on your key messages, services and offers. Share your research, your expertise and your unique insight. Know –and be totally clear on– why you matter. Tell your readers.

An example: if you’re a member-based organization, use your blog to let those members –and potential members– know you’re on top of their issues and how you’re representing their interests. An up to date blog allows you to be visible, frequently in touch, transparent and accountable in ways you never could have imagined using print.

2. What will make your blog unique.

The form your blog takes should reflect and highlight who you are and what you do. Tell the audience why they should care and what’s in it for them.

Be clear on your personality – your brand– and convey it. If your work is in research, sharing detailed and in depth information will be a focus. If you’re a political commentator, being controversial, opinionated and showing readers you are deeply in-the-know and connected are bottom line requirements.

But writing traditional articles is just one way of getting the word out. Lots of people don’t like to write or aren’t good at it. Not only that but more and more online communication is visual. Photos and videos are becoming more popular all the time.Think about how you can incorporate visuals into your blog.

What if you’re a filmmaker, wine or craft beer aficionado, or home organizing expert?
You could use photos, video tutorials, tip sheets, infographics and more to convey your message.

Show by doing. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words if you’re a portrait photographer wanting to display your wares. For the home organizer, before and after shots of the transformation from messy place to organized home tell the story more quickly and effectively than words ever could.

(By the way, at Working Design we count all of the above among our interesting and varied clients.)

3. Where to start?

  • Plan. Map out a range of topics you want to blog about. If you’re a small business or organization these should be a combination of what you want your readers to know and what they’ve asked about. The impetus for this Being Online series comes from frequent client requests on marketing and how to do online communication. Our purpose here is to inform you as well as letting you know we have a lot of ideas and experience in the area. Need more information? Call us!
  • Figure out your blog strategy. How often will you blog and who will be responsible? How will you work as a team? As we said in our previous post about blogging: be brutally realistic about this. Starting a blog is like a resolution to go to the gym more often. You start with a lot of determination and optimism but…you know the rest. Set modest and realistic goals. See how things evolve.
  • Find a platform. Will your blog be hosted on your own website or will you use any one of the several free blogging templates available? It’s preferable to host your own blog or to use WordPress.org if you want to maintain control over your blog. No cost services such as blogger.com and tumblr.com do not offer you a unique site. Instead your blog will be part of a subdomain of their main site. If you ever want to transfer your blog, you’ll have a hard time doing it. And while hosting your own site or blog will cost you a little bit of money, we think it’s worth it.
  • Get busy blogging. This blog isn’t going to tell you how to write well and where your blog fits into your marketing strategy. Those topics are covered in textbooks, online courses and thousands of other blogs. (Or, if you prefer we can start a one-to-one discussion about that with you). Do your research and see how other writers and organizations are using their blogs. Make sure you know how you want to come across and… start doing it!

A few other points

Blogging is a huge topic. You’ll find a lot more information by searching online. But, here are a couple of other quick tips we want to leave you with:

  • Hire help if you need to. If you’ve determined that a blog is an important part of your outreach strategy but it stretches your resources, hire someone to help.
  • Should a blog be long or short? Some topics need depth and detail. Others can easily be short informational blurbs. Keep things varied and incorporate both approaches into your blog.
  • Get the word out. Once you’re set up, how do you let people know you have a blog? Will you use social media, an e-newsletter, paid Facebook ads and other channels? We’ll be covering those questions in our next few Being Online blog posts. Until then.