Why Blog Anyway? The Ins and Outs of Writing Great Blogs

 

Thursday January 11 2018

Blogs may be ubiquitous but they can also be a divisive topic. That’s right, divisive. For while we may live and work in a world that is increasingly shifting to a truly digital, online economy, the enduring return on investment of a blog to a professional or small business can seem questionable at first.

The same is also true of bigger businesses. They may have more cash to burn, but also a greater array of internal processes for financing marketing and outreach. That can mean a whole ton of red tape needs to be cut through before a new blog can be approved. It can result in a new blog plan being forever left in ‘pending’.

Then there’s the time issue. You may be reading this intrigued by the idea of starting your own blog. You have thought about it before, and know the general benefits it can bring like building your online profile, connecting you with others, and so on. But you want to know its benefits in-depth.

So, why is starting a blog worthwhile? And just what is the enduring value of having one? Let’s answer these two questions‚ and then go through the core things you need to consider when thinking about a new blog..

Why is starting a blog worthwhile?

OK, if you’re squeamish take a deep breath.  We’re about to use some marketing jargon. Blogging is a great idea because:

  • It builds your brand identity (BI)
  • It highlights your unique selling points (USP)
  • It provides a way to outpace competition (OC)

Building your brand identity takes time and resources. That’s not breaking news. What should be big news is the way a blog does like no offline format can. In the offline world, you would need to put up a dozen billboards in the same location over a long period of time to build a strong BI with your audience. Blogs are 24/7, 365 days a year, ever-available billboards.

A blog is also a fantastic way to show your USP. Take that billboard idea. Someone drives by a billboard once, and it may soon fall to the back of their mind. A good blog that is constantly posting content, sharing on social media, and engaging the audience will have multiple opportunities to connect, and show what makes it unique.

Better still, any business that has a blog holds a big advantage on competitors who don’t. Odds are good if you’re reading this you want to start a blog or want to grow your existing blog. The fact you’re ready to engage digitally is a USP by itself. It’ll also be one of growing importance, as many offline businesses will be challenged more and more in future by eCommerce’s rise.

Then, there is the ability to get to where your going faster. A blog is like a car. Sure, there are other ways to get where you are going. But walking is way slower. Having a good and vibrant blog allows you to grab attention, build industry relationships, and attract clients. That is how a good blog helps you OC competition.

And it’s personal

This doesn’t just need to be a business context. You can be writing personal blogs and the same context applies just dial down: you show what your interests are‚ what makes you unique‚ and what you can offer that is special.

It also gives you a passport to digital engagement. If you have a blog it’s easy to reach out to people in your field. They know who you are‚ why you are writing them‚ and where your shared interests exist. That beats out a random ‘hi I’m random person writing you randomly…’

What is the enduring value of having a blog?

We’ve identified the reasons its wise to start a blog. Many people wonder once they start one where does it end? Some blogs will have a clear theme at the start. E.g. ‘Sarah’s blog as she travels through Italy’. Once she has explored Italia it may mean ciao to the blog. Other blogs start with no such structure.

It comes down to key aim. Whether the blog is something you do with a clear goal in mind‚ or is something you could do forever. It is OK if you don’t know which one it is yet‚ as ‘seeing where it takes you’ will usually define a clear path overtime.

What is important is to aspire to a good ending should that time come, and then commit to it. Many blogs suddenly stop updating, go offline, or otherwise fall into the online abyss. However you look at it, this is not a good look for a business as it suggests an to plan and execute.

This reality does not mean blogging has to be an ‘all or nothing’,  perpetual task. Many bloggers will put up a post letting their audience know:

A) They are taking a break to get some new ideas
B) They are busy elsewhere but will be back soon
C) They are ending this blog but will be starting a new one soon

Each of these are different paths, but you know what they share in common? A desire to  communicate effectively with the audience. If you’ve been blogging weekly and suddenly stop for 6 months it’ll hurt your following. Even if you make a great comeback, it’s likely a ton of your original audience will have disengaged from your regular posts, and maybe lost interest altogether in following your blogs in future.

But, if you post a quick ‘on pause, back soon’ post before you depart? That shows respect for your audience, and ensures readers will be open to engaging with your blog once you return.

So Where Do I Begin?

Answering this question is the same as answering ‘how long is a piece of string?’ But there are a couple of key considerations you can ponder that will assist you in finding the right schedule.

A) How often can you blog?

The more the better but being realistic is good. Trying to write 3 blogs a day when you’ve a full time job in unrealistic.

B) How often does your audience want to hear from you?

If you are posting celebrity news you audience will want regular updates, at least a couple of times a week. If you are a suburban accountant blogging about tax reform in your state? It’s OK to be more irregular.

C) What sort of content can you put out?

Your capacity to blog will also depend on what content you put out. A good blog post that review the latest Hollywood blockbuster be done pretty quickly. A critical analysis the latest advances in rocket science will take longer.

Again‚ your audience will intuitively recognise in-depth content takes longer to make. But it’s about how much you as an author can manage.

D) Can you effectively communicate your mission?

Every blog will have its own unique aims and personality. What marketers would call a brand. That is fine. But it is also worthwhile to remain your unique offerings must be mindful of your competition and wider industry. That means ongoing maintenance.

If you blog but don’t do so regularly, it’s very much worth placing a note on your site explaining why, and/or when you will post next. This doesn’t need to be terribly complex, but it does need to be done.

Even something simple like scores some points. ‘John/Joan smith is a busy professional with two young kids who still loves to blog. New content is posted whenever I win some time free to write, usually once every month!’

This makes it clear to readers your busy but intend to stay in touch. Doing that is a small gesture, but can be the difference between someone bookmarking your post to revisit later, and just moving on because ‘ah well, seems they’ve stopped blogging, what’s the point in following this then?’.

E) How fast do you want to grow?

More posts equals more growth. Simple as that. The rate and speed of that growth can vary, but in the day and age of SEO and social media sharing, every blog post you do is like a freeway billboard. The more billboards you put up, the more likely people will notice, and keep you in mind while heading down the road.

More than Words

Words are powerful. They continue to have immense weight and impact in the digital era, just as they’ve done for thousands of years before it. But we are also in the age of 24/7 visual media. A good blog can absolutely be primarily text alone – but a great blog will include extras.

The exact extras to use will depend on your blog and how you aim to connect with your audience. Nonetheless, inserting things like photos, videos, gifs, and other similar content – as well as text-based content like headers and hyperlinks – are all useful elements to give your blogs real oomph.

Core Takeaways

These points outline here should provide you the building blocks for starting a blog. Just the same, they are also foundations for blog growth that worked well before. Discarding everyone of them is surely unwise if you expecting a blog to grow strong.

Nonetheless, with an audience of billions online, there’s plenty of audience to go around, and plenty of space to swim against the tide. Ultimately, the best blogs are ones that offer something unique, and connect with the audience in a significant way.

Using these guidelines as a starting point instead of a set of rules you simply must follow is best. That way you’ve the chance to set off on your own journey with some signposts, but also the capacity to blaze your own path when the time comes to do what nobody else can.

And, once you’ve done this and found that sweet spot? Get in touch with our editorial team at via ed@thedigitalbriefing.com or reach out to us on social media with a link. Just as we hope this briefing helped you, we’d love to see what you come up with in the wider world of online blogging.

 

Ed Kennedy is a journalist, ghostwriter, and web developer from Melbourne, Australia. Contact Ed via enquiries@edkennedy.co on LinkedIn or Twitter@EdKennedy01

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