What makes a good blog and how do you go about writing and sustaining one?
Someone asked me about this topic recently, so here are a few thoughts below. One thing that comes to mind straight away is that a blog should evolve as time goes by. It is quite acceptable to address a variety of topics over the course of several months or weeks – as long as the blog has a common thread or theme that ties your posts together.
And as long as it encourages repeat viewings.
Your style of writing can, and should, evolve, too, as should the overall content and direction.
This blog has been for some time about various writing skills in a business environment, including P.R. and the art of good communications (at the risk of stating the obvious!). But when I started blogging, it was more about personal reflections on my day-to-day existence. Beware about mixing both.
Here are a few ideas about blogging:
- Identify your audience and write for them. As with all forms of communication, it’s best to focus your blog on a particular audience and their needs and desires. Why are you blogging? If it’s just as a hobby or to sound off, that is a different matter from a business-related blog that serves as a marketing channel to reach your audience. I always advocate planning a series of topics, perhaps a month or two in advance and writing about them in order. See my bullet point below about being stuck for ideas – writer’s block happens to all of us
- Adopt a friendly, approachable tone and include anecdotes and experiences, where relevant. Gone are the days – mainly – of cold, clinical blog posts with little personality. Readers should feel they know (at least a bit about) the person writing the blog, without hearing their full life story. But, like much writing, this is easier said than done
- How often to blog? Good question – some say several times a week, to help with search engine rankings and to create a following. I prefer to stick to my own communications plan and update my blog when I really have something to say on a writing or communications topic. Blogs needn’t be too long, either, around 500 words is an ideal maximum length
- Test a few draft blogs on colleagues, friends or partners before you post them. You may end up creating a few followers and fans in the process. Or listen to their feedback if they have constructive criticism. Did they honestly find it easy to read to the end of your post? Would they wish to revisit your blog in future?
- Once your blog is established and you have posted a few items, see if you can attract a guest blogger (preferably an expert or highly knowledgeable in their subject area) on to your site. It will only add to the credibility of your blog. And it is great to include other voices and perspectives, especially blogs written by existing and potential customers, including links to other credible blogs and web resources
- Hot topics. Like press releases, white papers and other pieces of business writing – establish the real hot issues in your line of work. What new perspective can you offer on them (especially if you can convincingly argue a view-point that differs from the status quo)?
- Mix it up. For the last few years, my blogs have been about writing, Public Relations (P.R.) and communications. But, we all like a break from the day-to-day, so occasionally I have included updates on the work of a charity I support. It’s fine to vary the general direction of a blog once in a while, as long as there is a reason for doing so (you may get some push back for trying this if you blog on someone else’s behalf). Variety keeps things fresh, and communicates a wider perspective. It helps with writer’s block and if you run low on ideas, too
- Check out other blogs and writers you find inspiring to generate your own ideas. And as well as text, clearly don’t forget pictures and video.
For advice on business writing, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org