You learn by listening (build a blog #1)

63320671 I spent part of last week with a client team who is about to enter social media by launching a blog.  They asked me what the most important thing they could do to ensure that their blog was a success. 

I said…anyone with a computer can launch a blog.  Few are going to do it right.  And few will still be blogging in 6 months.


The software is easy and in some cases, free.  If not free — then cheap.  I pay a whopping $15/month for my Typepad account and I have the high powered, design your own version.

But just because you can click a few links and have an empty blog doesn’t make you a blogger.

Before you can do it right, you need to have some idea of what right looks like.  And you learn that by observing others who are already successful.

When we create/launch a blog for clients, the first thing we make them do is listen.  Think of all the important things we had to learn throughout our lives.  Walking, talking, reading, riding a bike.  The first step in any of those efforts was to see it being done.  We had it modeled for us.  Then, we slowly began to mimic that behavior until we were able to do it on our own.

Blogging is no different.  You learn by listening/reading those who are already successful.  So if your company (or you) are thinking about launching a blog, start right.  Start by making a list of 20 blogs in your category.  Pick some of the big, popular ones and some less well known. 

Begin noticing (and recording) some of these elements.

  • How often do they publish new content?
  • How do their posts look?
  • Do they use visuals?
  • How long are their posts?
  • What else, besides their posts, are on their blogs?
  • Do they have advertising?  How does that impact your reading?
  • What’s on their sidebar?
  • Who do they link out to?
  • How often do they link out?
  • Who links in to them?
  • Do they allow comments?
  • Do they get comments?
  • Who/from where are their commenters?
  • Do they respond to comments, if so…how?
  • Do you see any pattern or themes in their posts’ content?
  • Do they use multimedia like video clips or slideshare?
  • Who is on their blogroll?  Do they have one?
  • What do you like about their blog?
  • What don’t you like about their blog?
  • How well is their blog branded and tied back to their business?
  • Does their blog seem self-serving?

You get the idea.  Listen.  Observe.  Question.  That’s step one.