Hi! My name is Rebecca Lalez and I’m a social media strategist for IBM Rational.
I think blogs are awesome.
No. Really. They’re fantastic and extremely useful if set up correctly.
The value of blogging goes beyond just sharing your viewpoint with an external audience. It’s not just about shouting out what you’re thinking to (hopefully) masses of people.
It’s an easy way for you to improve your thinking and writing skills as an individual. And, it’s an amazing way to add value to conversation and thereby increasing your own personal eminence.
But, do things the wrong way and your blog will slowly turn into one of the ~94% of blogs that have grown stale, unvisited and generally useless.
There are three actions I ask people to read through before getting started on a new blog:
Step 1: Deciding if you should be blogging
There are so many different blogs out there, so, before you get started with something new, make sure you can answer yes to the following questions:
- Do you have the time to commit to writing at the very least one post/month?
- Do you have enough content, or is the subject broad enough, to keep the blog going for the long-term?
- Does your target audience really need a new blog? (It’s ok if you’re your target audience. I write a blog for my own benefit, too.)
If you couldn’t answer “yes”, maybe the answer is for you to contribute to an existing blog that deals with the same interests that you have. Consider reaching out to an existing blog author and see if they’d let you contribute a guest post.
Step 2: Naming your blog
This might seem like a really easy step, but in reality it’s pretty difficult. When you're picking a blog name, it's tempting to be really specific about the focus, however, most bloggers who take this route are disappointed after a few posts because the path or breadth of their knowledge changes course. Choose a blog title that has longevity.
Use the following questions to help you get started:
- What kind of information will people gain from your blog?
- What interest area are you really focusing on?
- Which search terms does your target audience use to find the subjects you'll talk about in your blog?
Step 3: Writing blog posts
Now that you've got a name for your blog, you're going to want to start writing. Here is some advice to make your blog posts shine:
- Make your opinion known: People like blogs, they like blogs because they are written by people and not corporations. People want to know what people think, crazy as it sounds they want to know what you think. Tell them exactly what you think using the least amount of words possible.
- Link like crazy: Support your post with links to other web pages that are contextual to your post.
- Write less: Give the maximum amount of information with the least amount of words. Time is finite and people are infinitely busy. Blast your knowledge into the reader at the speed of sound. 250 words is enough. A long post is easier to forget and harder to get into. A short post is the opposite.
- Make headlines snappy: Contain your whole argument in your headline. Check out National newspapers to see how they do it.
- Include bullet point lists: We all love lists, it structures the info in an easily digestible format.
- Make your posts easy to scan: Every few paragraphs insert a sub heading. Make sentences and headlines short and to the point. Images are also helpful.
- Be consistent with your style: People like to know what to expect, once you have settled on a style for your audience stick to it.
- Litter the post with keywords: Think about what keywords people would use to search for your post and include them in the body text and headers. make sure the keyword placement is natural and does not seem out of place.
- Edit your post: Good writing is in the editing. Before you hit the submit button, re-read your post and cut out the stuff that you don’t need.
- Keep confidential, confidential: Make sure the information you're sharing is ok for external use. If you're not sure, contact legal and ask or choose a different topic.
- Give credit where credit is due: If you're using a different source, make sure you give them credit. For example, this list was created with the help of problogger.net.
These are the tips we share with new bloggers in Rational. What tips do you have for keeping your blog fresh? Any advice on overcoming writer's block?