The Art Of Blogging
Now that the "SEO is Dead" debate seems to be winding down, the new topic du jour is blogging. Should you do it, why do it, how do you do it, and how can you do it better.
I’ll blame Rand (you’re welcome!) for starting the whole thing off and crushing the dreams of many stating that Blogging in an Oversaturated Market is Usually a Poor Decision. Rand’s stance is that unless you’re knowledgeable, compelling and an awesome writer who doesn’t care if people know who you are, it’s probably wise to stay away from the already-saturated blog markets of entertainment, tech, gadgets, gossip and the like.
I think his remarks may have come off a little stronger than he intended but the point was if you don’t fit into the categories listed (I think I hit 1.5 of those categories. Thanks for making me feel inadequate, Rand…) you can try to break into these areas, but realize it’s you and about 10,000 other people trying to fit through the same narrow door. Can it be done? Sure. Is it going to be difficult and come with a slight chance of scarring? Yes. Is it incredibly fun to watch 10,000 people try to fit through a small door (literally, not figuratively)? Oh my goodness, yes!
When it comes to blogging, intent is key to measuring "success". In other words, what are you hoping to get out of your blog? If you’re blogging because you want a group of Cuttlets (photo via Danny) to follow you around at conferences, then you should either (a) find a less competitive niche or (b) find a new a reason. (Sorry, folks, the chances of you inspiring a Cuttlet-type fan club are very, very slim). You should be blogging because you have a unique and/or compelling perspective to bring to the conversation. If you write to educate, your blog has value and is successful even if it’s just you and your mom reading it for the first year. Provide a real value to users and you’ll find a following. It won’t happen overnight, but if you write it and your content is valuable to your niche, they will come.
Advertising Age and Vizu Answers recently released the findings of a new study that found blog readers are loyal, trusting and yearning to be entertained. Yeah, you probably already knew that. But it’s more proof that if you can attract readers with your wit and keep them captivated with your industry knowledge, you’re bound to be successful, and perhaps even an industry favorite. And I don’t care how cool you think you are, admit it, if you’re blogging, at least a small part of you is doing it because you want that loyal audience. Even if you’re primary motive is to education, you want people to like you. It’s practically every geek’s dream.
It’s trying to balance personality with information that I think makes blogging an art. It’s not an easy task and it’s not for everyone. I read quite a few blogs daily, but there are a handful that I run to once Bloglines wakes up long enough to inform me of a new post. These are the people who have best perfected the art, while the rest of us are merely trying not to suck.
The blog survey confirmed another already known truth which is that readers respond to good writing. Almost 44 percent of respondents said writing quality plays a large part in which blogs they read regularly, and more than half said a well-written blog implies credibility.
As a frequent blog reader, it’s like nails on a chalkboard when bloggers blatantly and unapologetically murder the English language. If you’re not a born grammar buff, run your posts passed someone who is. Please? It’s just that important. Get your grammar straight, learn to engage your readers, write great headlines (I know, mine are pathetic. I’m working on it) and decide what your blog strategy is. Are you the guy who’s great at patents? Are you the guy who writes 12 blogs a day and people have no idea how you sleep? Are you the Queen of usability? It all goes back to being "the google" of your niche. Decide what makes you different and focus on that. Know your niche.
There’s some debate over whether search engine optimization is an art or science, but there’s no debate here. Blogging is an art. If you want your blog to be successful, write about something your passionate about and be passionate it. If people connect with you, they’ll form a much stronger bond with your blog.
If you’re looking for some more blogging resources, Jordan McCollum (who has been doing a stellar job filling Andy Beal’s shoes lately) posted some invaluable Resources for Corporate Bloggers, which are worth checking out. May the blog be with you.