Jennifer Powell, Blogger
My friend and colleague, Jen Powell presented a wonderful seminar last Tuesday at the Enterprise Center in Salem, MA. The topic was “How to Write a Great Blog.” Let me say this: Jen knows how to fill a room. I’ve been to quite a few seminars at the Enterprise Center but I’ve never had trouble finding a seat before. Jen, of course, will tell you that the topic is interesting – which it is – and that’s why there was such a great turnout. But that’s not all of it. It’s her easy going, interactive, “hey we’re all in this together” approach that puts backsides in the seats when she speaks. So here, then, are three (there were many more) questions that struck a chord for me.
Why Am I Blogging?
Pretty basic question don’t you think? But still so many bloggers don’t know the answer. Are you blogging to establish your credibility as an expert in your field? Are you using your blog to sell products or services? Are you a writer blogging because….well because that’s what writers do? I blog for three distinct reasons. First, to communicate to clients and would-be clients that I am an expert at what I do. My post on Designing for Mobile Devices is an example. Second, to get something off my chest. That’s why I created a category called “Rants.” (Does it say something about me that I have more posts in the Rants category than any other?) My post called Advice for Bosses, Managers and Supervisors – Be Nice, is a rant. Third, to share with readers in my own demographic group something that interests me and thus may interest them, like Paul McCartney Turning 70. Those are my reasons. What are yours?
Who Am I Talking To?
We’ve heard this before haven’t we? Know your audience is another way of saying the same thing. Of course the who can only be clear if you know the why. If, for example, you’re blogging to establish expertise in your field, then it’s your potential clients you should be talking to. They are the ones who have to have confidence in you before they hire you. No matter what your reason for blogging, the better you know your audience, the more focused your blogging will be and the more success you will have. Here is another great idea courtesy of Jen Powell. Write to just one person. Of course you’re trying to reach many people but writing to one person will make it easier to focus your thoughts. Try it. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is to write that way.
Should I Hire Someone to Write my Blog?
It depends. One of the keys to a successful blog is authenticity. If you’re a small business owner then the best chance of your blog being authentic is for you to write it yourself. But you may not have the time or the ability and hiring someone to write it for you may be the only way to ensure that it gets done. This is fine providing the person writing on your behalf spends enough time getting to know you and your business. This is essential if the writing is going to be authentic – which it must be if you want your blog to be successful.
And Now Back to You
Have you thought about blogging but haven’t been able to get started? What’s holding you back? Start with the three questions above and see if that helps. Let me know how you’re doing.
It may take a few tries but hang in there
I was privileged to attend a conference a few weeks ago presented by Merrimack College as part of it’s 2012-2013 Leadership Series entitled “It’s Time to Create Your Digital Platform!” As a perk of membership in the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce, admission was free. I gladly would have paid. Two of the three speakers, Michael Hyatt and Brian Halligan, are best selling authors. Halligan also happens to be co-founder and CEO of Hubspot, a marketing software company that helps businesses transform the way they market their products. The third, Sally Falkow, is a highly respected public relations guru. I took notes, scribbled down links to websites, wrote down recommended book titles, sent out real time tweets and, giving in to my inner geek, got my books signed by the authors. Later, when life had slowed down some, I looked over my notes. One phrase jumped off the page. Each of the speakers said it during their presentations. Some said it more than once. It took on the aspect of a mantra. To get noticed in a noisy world, you have to write remarkable content.
Sound Scary? It Doesn’t Have To Be
I started thinking about my clients – you – the good people who sometimes read my blog. I’ve heard you say it. “I’m not a writer. I can’t write remarkable content.” Well here’s how my trusty Oxford American Dictionary defines the word “remarkable.”
re • mark • a • ble (ri-mahr-ka-bel) adj. worth noticing, exceptional, unusual.
If you’re not a professional writer I understand why you would be intimidated at the prospect of writing exceptional or unusual content.
It’s All About Your Audience
My point is this. If you sell concrete, your website should be geared to people who want to know more about concrete. Since concrete is your area of expertise I’m betting that you can produce content that, if not exceptional or unusual, is at least worth noticing? That is to say worth noticing to your audience. Don’t get me wrong. No matter how much expertise you have in your field, a professional writer will always do a better job at crafting your web copy than you will. But if you focus more on the worth noticing part of the definition of remarkable and less on the exceptional and unusual parts, you just might be surprised at how remarkable your content is.
Some Helpful Resources
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into the world of remarkable content, here are a few links that are favorites of mine. I hope you’ll find them helpful:
Now Back to You
Did you write your own copy for your website? How did that go? Or did you hire someone to write it for you? Were you satisfied with the result?
P.S. To my writer friends and colleagues. Don’t be angry with me for suggesting that clients on a limited budget might want to try writing their own copy. My intent here was to give them some helpful advice if they want to go in that direction. Know this. They will never replace you.