Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Six Things You Should Know About Blogging

The other day a friend who is relatively new to blogging asked me if my blog had helped me professionally.  I could tell by the look on her face that she still wasn't sold on the idea of blogging, nor were her posts flowing freely. I could also tell that she was wondering just exactly how a blog equated to paying the rent.

The thing is, there is no direct line to the cash. Which is the dirty truth that no one wants to speak about for most marketing.  But that doesn't make it any less important. In a digital age, a blog can serve as an interactive platform for who you are or who your business is. If you approach it right, a blog can lay the groundwork that will eventually translate into revenue for whatever products or services you offer. But if you think that every time you post an article, a new client will appear, think again.

I like to think of blogging as I do most social media. It's free marketing. I'll repeat that. FREE. And because I like to write. No, slash that,  LOVE to write, blogging for me is fun. Which is very important to mention if you are of the ilke that believe there is no reason to do anything if you are not making money. Fun is a reason to do a lot of things. Carol Burnett was recently interviewed on The View. She was asked if she had any idea in 1967, the first year it aired,  the impact The Carol Burnett Show would have on television. Her answer was no. All that had been agreed upon with the cast was that no matter what, they were going to have fun with each other. See what can happen when you're having fun!

If you are having fun, chances are the voice you are writing in will be much more authentic. Authenticity is how you build your following, your audience or in the words of Seth Godin, your tribe. And by authentic, I mean authentic. Not artificially authentic.

I started this blog almost four years ago. It hasn't made me rich. At least not yet. But it has worked for me. This is what I know that might help you.

1. It's a stake in the ground that says who or what you are. I launched this blog on November 18, 2008,  just three months into my non-corporate life. I was on unsteady feet, not sure exactly what my life moving forward was going to look like. Creating this blog was symbolic for me. It was a place for me to come to, every day, to evaluate, to think and to shout to the world that I was on a new adventure. No, I did not blog every day, but I did hang out here quite a bit when I was trying to figure out what to write.

2. A blog is a platform, a calling card, a giant billboard if you will, of who you are. Whether you are a CEO or an entrepreneur, a blog that you consistently contribute to is part of your digital platform. It is a chance for you to share expertise, ideas and information. Somedays, but never every day, it will include shameless self-promotion.  When I meet someone new,  I invite them to stop by.  It's a chance for them to get a better idea of who I am, how I think and what I have to offer that they might need.

3. Blog because you have something to say that you think is worth sharing. A lot of people  approach blogging as a chore. Something they should be doing instead of wanting to do.  Many start blogging with the intention of getting attention. Or new customers. Or people to sign up for their latest  class or buy their latest widget. Yes, I have that fantasy that the next blog I write might be the one that goes viral or soars my books to the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller List. But trust me, when I have tried to make that happen, it's a disaster.  What I have found works best is to blog when I have an idea that I think might be helpful and shareworthy. (and yes, I do try and have those ideas at least once a week!)

4. Write for you first. If you write to please others, that's exactly how you will come across.  Don't over think. As a writer, I consider my blog writing practice unleashed. I never think it my best writing, because I don't give it as much time as I would a full length article or book. But it is my writing. And I try to make it good writing. Plus it does give me the thrill of hitting that publish button as often as I like.

5. Blog because you can. Less than one hundred years ago women were not allowed to vote in this country. Today not only can I vote, but blogging has given me the freedom to voice whatever I am thinking without censure. I don't need a big corporation behind me to fund my writing (although I am always opening to funding ;))  My blog is my contribution to the greater good. Hopefully. A place where I can say what I want and trust that at least one other person, somewhere, benefits from that.

6. Sometimes my blog goes on vacation.  Like these last few weeks. It gets tired. It needs a break from all this on-line interaction. The writer in me gets involved in other writing projects, not to mention coaching.  Sometimes I can get so in the writing flow of that project, that I can't stop.  Even though I know consistency is important in the care and feeding of a blog, I take the gamble that I won't lose too many readers in its absence.

I hope I didn't lose too many while I was gone.

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