Some people seem to have a talent – an affinity – for blogging. We sometimes call them – and sometimes they’re self-proclaimed – “thought leaders“. I’ve never warmed to the term, mainly because it conjures images of “the Cold War”. Paranoia notwithstanding, my feeling is that if you’re content to follow thinkers and never be one, you’re stunting your personal growth. Start blogging! You must have something to say.
“But…I don’t know how”, you say. Well, here are a few guidelines.
- Pick a hot topic. Thanks to the Internet, we know about events almost as they happen. Also thanks to the Internet, the shelf lives of stories are measured in hours, sometimes days – almost never in weeks and months. People’s attention spans are getting shorter, thanks in part to the sheer volume of “information” assaulting their eyes and ears. If the event just happened, great. If it happened in the last few days, good. If it happened a month or more ago, most of us have moved on.
- Know more than your “typical” reader about the topic. That is, write about what you know best. If you’re simply regurgitating or parroting a story, we don’t care. If you have a particular insight due to personal experience or if you’ve earned a certification or degree and have been working in that field for a number of years, your insights have a bit more credibility and may have value.
- Explain how the topic of the moment relates to the overall purpose of your blog. Don’t go off on a tangent just because you have something to say about a topic. If your blog is about home repair and you don’t like something the President said in his “State of the Union” address and you feel the need to express yourself, make a rational case for how that law or policy might affect the home repair business. Don’t rant – it helps no one. Least of all, you.
- Set a small number of attainable, reasonable objectives and measure your “performance” against them.
- If you’re consistently reaching your objectives, raise the bar. “Playing it safe” and “making progress” are mutually exclusive.
- Don’t show off your wealth of knowledge. If you feel your job is not to enlighten and entertain your audience but to impress the &%@#$! out of them, you’ll achieve none of your objectives. ZERO.
- It won’t hurt you to follow the Toastmasters’ recommendation regarding speech structure: (a) Tell your audience briefly what you’re about to say (or give them a brief overview); (b) say it; and (c) tell them what you just said (i.e., summarize).
- Inject personality (preferably, your own) into your writing. Even add a personal anecdote. Don’t make the post “all about you” but do show your audience – briefly – that you have a personal basis for understanding what they’re going or have gone through. Don’t brag that “I understand”, though.
- Great blogging doesn’t automatically bring followers. You might want to believe that your unique style – prose that alternates between lyrical and coldly calculating – and your insights, as well as the searing passion that has to be obvious to even the most jaded, cynical reader, will bring an audience to you. Some people want to be challenged but many, many more want to read whatever conforms to or reinforces their already-held beliefs. If you don’t know whether there’s an audience for your work, prepare to be satisfied with “a lone voice crying in the wilderness” status. Some people are very satisfied with that – they’re not in blogging for the money.
- If you are into blogging strictly for the money, forget it. Forget “blogging ROI”. Blogging and other social media ARE about establishing and maintaining longer-term relationships. Social media are collectively “another window to the world”. You start any relationship with “Hello – how are you?” If you have common interests or situations, you nurture the relationship – both of you keep it going. Build a relationship on trust, respect, and shared interests. If it becomes a business relationship, it’s because of mutual benefits.
- Last, don’t worry about writing the perfect post or about readership/viewership ups and downs. Perfection is impossible (never mind what the key figure in your love life says about herself/himself). If perfection were attainable, we wouldn’t be human and there’d be no need for clause 8.5 of the ISO 9001 quality standard – Continual Improvement, Corrective Action, and Preventive Action.
Some weeks (or days), you’ll think your best isn’t very good. Keep in mind that we’re all our own worst critics. Pity the perfectionists, but keep plugging away.
Thank you for your time. I welcome your comments, always.