Blogging: What I Wish I Knew When I Started

17 Actionable Blog Tactics

Before starting a blog, most prospective bloggers believe that it’s all about the writing. Yet the reality is that writing is only a small part of the total effort required for a successful blog.

While you may follow many blogs, until you yourself start blogging, you don’t appreciate that a blog is a media entity and what that entails.

Unlike most bloggers, I had the advantage of growing up and working at a family-owned newspaper and later leading the online marketing division of one of the most respected publications in the world. So I learned what running a media entity requires. Despite that, I’m continually amazed at how much “everything else” is required to keep my blog going beyond the time I spend crafting my blog posts.

The 5 Ps of Blogging

 Tweet ThisBlogging-related activity can be broken into the five Ps:
plan, pen, publish, promote and participate. 

1. Plan

No blog post is an island entire of itself, to paraphrase John Donne. It’s part of a collection of posts and other content that are connected through a common theme. A blogging plan assumes that you have blog goals related to your objectives. The result is a process of organizing your articles to integrate your posts with your marketing. (Additionally, it’s important to set up your blog well because, on blogs, content isn’t king!)

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Determine on-going columns. Develop a set of regular features that are aligned with your topic. Map out categories and columns on a one, two or four week schedule.
  2. Create an editorial calendar. Plan your content creation to help keep your blogging schedule on track. BTW, it’s a good idea to have a supply of posts to use in the event of an emergency because once you start posting, you have an obligation to your audience to keep publishing on schedule.
  3. Secure appropriate resources. Before you dive into the blogging pool, get the support your blog will need. This applies to all blogs, both business and personal. Among the resources needed are technical help (BTW—I highly recommend my webmaster, Larry Aronson), copyediting to ensure that your grammar and spelling are correct and a blogging buddy to provide a sounding board and support system.

2. Pen

Blogging is its own form of writing. It’s not the compositions you were taught to write in third grade. For one thing, blog posts are read almost exclusively online – using a wide variety of devices.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Build writing habit by blogging regularly. Like any other form of writing, blogging requires continual practice.
  2. Craft attention-getting titles. Blog post headlines need to grab your prospects by the collar and pull them away from doing anything else except reading your content.
  3. Structure blog posts to entice online and mobile readers. Blogging differs from other types of writing insofar as you must go beyond having a great hook. You need to present the content in a way that facilitates consumption.
  4. Learn what content resonates best with your audience. Look at your analytics to determine what topics and formats appeal the most to your readers.
  5. Collect blog post ideas and titles. As you start to think like a blogger, you’ll begin to see post ideas and titles. Capture them in a Word document or a Moleskin journal so that you’re never at a loss for ideas.

3. Publish

Preparing each post goes beyond the physical activity of writing and rewriting your content.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Copyedit your content. While blogs are known for being more time sensitive than other publishing platforms, your articles need to be corrected for grammar and spelling or potential readers won’t trust your information. Further, mistakes detract from your brand.
  2. Add images and/or other content formats. Blogs can handle a wide range of different content such as photos, videos, audio and presentations. This can attract other segments of your audience.
  3. Optimize your posts for search. Blogs help support search marketing. This means reviewing each article before you publish it to maximize its searchability. Tweak your title and post URL. Also include links to other websites as well as to your own content. (Here are more blog search recommendations.)
  4. Maintain your blogging platform. This includes static pages such as your About page, Privacy Policy, Author Profiles, etc. Additinally, there’s general site maintainance including administrative work like analytics to track your performance and software updates.

4. Promote

As a blogger you need to let people know about your blog content on a regular basis. You can’t assume that someone who’s visited once will return. You need to continually remind them and to let them know that you have fresh content.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Distribute your content across your owned media. At a minimum, build your email house file. Also, offer the option of receiving your content via feeds. If your blog is supporting your business, use your other advertising and marketing to promote your blog.
  2. Leverage the power of social media. Distribute your blog posts at appropriate times to maximize your results. (Here are twenty-three tips for socializing your blog posts.)

5. Participate

By blogging about a specific topic, you’ve started a broader conversation. To build your audience and show your commitment, you need to engage in the related conversation, on your blog, other blogs and other forms of social media.

Actionable Marketing Tips:

  1. Respond to comments left of your blog. Many bloggers consider comments like gold. You should respond where appropriate, particularly those that include direct queries.
  2. Leave comments on other blogs where appropriate. The goal isn’t to leave your blog’s URL in another blog’s comments, which many bloggers consider spammy. Rather the objective is to extend the conversation and raise your personal profile. As a blogger, comments can sometimes yield useful post ideas.
  3. Share other people’s content. Social media isn’t a one-way screaming contest to get people to read your content. Rather you need to be part of the community and distribute other people’s content as well as yours. You should aim to position yourself as an area expert.

 

The secret to great blogging is to continue to blog and enhance each aspect of your blog over time. Bear in mind that regularly showing up at the blog is hard work – not just writing.

What have you learned from your blogging experience?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo Credit:  Heidi Cohen

 

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