Beyond Inspiration: 5 Ideas for a Successful Blog

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I started blogging haphazardly last year in Blogger simply because I thought it was something I needed to experience hands-on. I wanted to capture my thoughts on merging content development and online marketing for a previous employer, and realized blogging was one way to do it. This was something completely new and intimidating for me (while I have no trouble speaking in front of a large audience blogging seems overwhelming – I think it’s the permanence and competition out there). I haven’t blogged as much as I hoped, but did manage to put my domain to use and gather some rudimentary WordPress skills (with help). Not a bad start.

Since then I have come across many inspiring bloggers that I try to regularly follow. After some news about SEO Smarty becoming an SEO Mom hit Twitter, I came across her blog post on advice that helped her when starting out.

1. Turn your weak points into the strong ones. Ann Smarty blogs in a foreign language, so as a result, she writes short posts, provides lists and specific action items. This has become her selling point, and as a result has been published in many newsletters. I struggle with finding a) time and b) the challenge of providing something useful in the realm of experts. Because of this I am diligent to learn, and have overcome the anxiety of asking questions in fear of losing face. Through networking and organizing myself, I can provide insight and resources that can give back. Which transitions well to the next thought …

2. Organize yourself, your work process and your resources. I use delicious to organize posts, tools and resources to refer to on a regular basis. I certainly could improve my blogging process, become more diligent, post to Sphinn and YouMoz, outline steps to syndicate my own content (in other words, take my own advice). But for me, this is a work in progress. I have a creative background, and if the process gets to rigid, it’s likely I’d lose interest. Ann has her own method of organization. Find what works for you, and stick with it. It could be a combination of methods, but it needs to fit your work-style.

3. Openly share all your knowledge. As SEO Smarty states, “It is dumb to think that once you share some piece of knowledge, someone can turn it against you or become your competitor.” There’s a good chance it won’t happen. The blogging, SEO and internet marketing communities are a generous bunch. They will share what they know, provide help when they can, and hold you accountable. I have learned more from networking and hands-on experience in the past 6 months than I could have sitting at a trade show conference. It is only fair to give back, and provide feedback when you can. I’m actually a believer in this method, and it has been successful for me.

I’ve also added a few more ideas to added to SEO Smarty’s list:

4. Be transparent. Nobody wants to read about how awesome you are, or how you never say or do the wrong thing. Share what you can, be honest, and ask for help when you need it. I’ve mentioned this before, and have admitted openly that my CSS skills are lacking. In fact, if it weren’t for Dan Freeman, another Mainer who I only know through Twitter, this blog would still look like a mess of code.

5. Participate and comment in other blog discussions. I try to find one blog post or article to comment on each day. Just one. Obviously this builds links back to your blog, but it also forces me to think constructively on a topic or theme that I may not know much about. It also provides another way to give back when I can contribute a tool or resource to add to the conversation.

I would like to hear more how people are inspired and motivated to blog. What drives you to start writing?

Marketing + Content = New Audience

Most of you know I work for a mid-sized newspaper company, and like most newspapers, we’ve been undergoing quite a bit of change lately, forcing me to think about how the marketing department for the “online division” provides value to the organization.

Media, it’s consumption, and as a result marketing to people has become fragmented. Therefore capturing and fulfilling the expectation (need) of a new audience is different. Yet somehow the “Newspaper Online” operational structure and product structure reflects that of “Newspaper”.

Why is this a square peg in a round hole scenario? Well, it’s scalability (thinking large) vs. agility (thinking small). It brings back the theme of applying “New Marketing” to “Legacy Product”; which results only in a “Big Mess”. It no longer works to be everything to everyone anymore.

To attract a new segment we need to think small. Where are these people, what are they doing? With the resources, effort and focus on citizen media, as well as the concern in gaining market share, this is more important than ever.

Also, success is not only defined by the “big number” (pageviews). Measurement of success for new audience includes engagement (pages consumed and time spent) and loyalty (who is coming back).

Attracting new audiences is not all about the technology or platform involved, it’s about outreach and building teams that can do the following:

– Conversational writing, listening: The content becomes the marketing, and vice versa, it’s a two-way conversation.
– Group interactions, events, mingling, networking
– Guerilla marketing


New audience development is about the cycle of the user experience online and offline, with the common goal of creating value for the audience: getting them there and keeping them there.