The training wheels of business blogging

97751822 We've just started working with a client who launched his own blog about 6 months ago.  We've re-designed his website (with the blog on the home page) and are just about to go live.

As one of the last things on the To Do list, I was taking his old blog posts from his original effort and moving them to the new site.

God love him….but yikes!  As I was preparing a document for him on business blogging basics, it occurred to me I should share it here too.  

These are by no means all inclusive, but they are the cornerstones that we preach at MMG.  (with a nod to Mike Sansone, who taught me all of them when I started blogging back in the stone age!)

Short and Sweet:  A blog post should hover around the 300 word mark.  Yes, you can occasionally go much longer or shorter, but in general, people have the tolerance for a good 3 minute read.  Which means you must stick to…

One and only one message:  Lots of reasons for this but if you're going to stick to the word count and put some meat on the bone, you can only dig into one topic.  So stay focused.  And, it makes the post easier to read and remember.  It also helps you to…

Write often: Our client was posting about once a month.  At that rate, you might as well not bother.  Business blogs are chock full of perks (SEO, define your expertise, attract new customers, etc) but only if you write on a regular basis.  3-4 per week is really what you should shoot for, if you want to build a legitimate blog.  Now if you want actual readers…

Go out and find your readers: This is not a "build it and they will come" sort of deal.  You have to be willing to step away from your own blog and go talk to the readers you want.  Where are they?  Odds are — at other people's blogs.  Go comment, share, and get elbow deep into conversations on blogs that parallel yours in terms of topic.  If you're smart or interesting there, they'll come visit your blog as well.  Another way to draw attention…

Link out: When you're writing about a specific topic or person — link out to them.  Especially bloggers who track their links like bloodhounds.  You should try to include at least one link out in every post.  Not sure where to find relevant writing?  Use a free tool like Zemanta to help.

Of course, there's much more, but these are the training wheels of blogging!  From your experience either as a blogger or reader — what would you add?

 

 

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17 comments on “The training wheels of business blogging

  1. Andy Nattan says:

    Fantastic advice. I’ve seen people recommend 800 word plus posts, but who’s got time to read? I tend to use an RSS reader on my phone, so I’m not going to sift through huge essays.

    Short, sweet, and on point. That’s the best way to do it.

  2. remi online says:

    great advice Drew!i can’t believe he only posted once a month..

  3. Hi Drew. Curious — if I include a link to my SlideShare version of the post (which is usually around a slim 15 slides), is a higher word count less “palm to forehead”? My post today was around 600 words, but I give my readers the option to see the “visual version” which can be read in about 1 min. http://www.jocelynwallace.com/blog/10-tips-visual-note-taking

    I’m having tech trouble with the way FeedBurner sends my post to my Android app NewsRob — so I’m not sure if the SlideShare link is great for user ex. Your take?

  4. Charles Sipe says:

    From my experience I would add to keep keywords in mind when creating content. I have a list of the top keywords that my target customers would likely type into search engines. Whenever it makes sense and without forcing it, I include these keywords in the title or in the content of the article so it is more likely that my target customers will find my blog posts in search engines.

  5. Kirby says:

    Great advice. I would add one thing which is to have a definitive purpose in mind. It makes writing the post and focusing much easier which when combined with SEO research and inclusion will in time give you the results desired.

  6. Perfect Timing…for me! I’m in the process of revisiting our blog interactivity and love your quantitative suggestions. Thanks for the great advice!

  7. Mandy June says:

    I couldn’t agree more with you on the idea that you need to write more often. Once a month is really not going to do anything for a blog in terms of traffic or readership. There constantly needs to be content on a site for readers to come back.

  8. Andy,

    Since no one has crowned me the King of Blogging, I won’t declare that 800 words is always wrong. But, I know it’s wrong for me and this blog. And I will say, I don’t think anyone should routinely write blog posts that long. Sure — every once in a blue moon but not as a regular practice.

    You’re right — people want bite-sized posts that they can digest in a hurry and then come back for the next serving.

    Drew

  9. Jocelyn,

    Your post was a long one. However, the list gave people plenty of eye rest and there weren’t huge blocks of text.

    But here are some other options you could have considered:

    ~ Pick the best three tips out of the 10 and write about those in the blog post. Invite readers to check out the slideshare for all 10.

    ~ Launch a series of posts — maybe once a week until you get through all 10. Write a post about each tip, with examples of both the good and the bad.

    Tell a story about how someone (or you) didn’t do it very well — and then end the post with 2-3 of the tips and again — drive them to the slideshare.

    You don’t have to serve the whole meal in every post. All ten of those tips was a multi-course feast. I might have broken it up into several snacks…or just given them a taste and let the slideshare be the full meal.

    Hope that was helpful!

    Drew

  10. Charles —

    Great addition, thank you. Using your key words on a regular basis is a very smart way to build a community, attract new readers through SEO and stay focused on your topic.

    Drew

  11. Kirby,

    No argument from me on that one! Staying very focused on your niche and defined area of interest/expertise is vital to growing a B-to-B blog. No one will come back if you flip and flop all over different topics.

    People have a reason for seeking out a B-to-B blog. Once they’ve arrived, it’s the author’s job to be sure they keep meeting that need.

    Drew

  12. Kim,

    I’m so glad you happened upon this post right when you needed it! Which suggestion will you focus on first?

    Drew

  13. Mandy —

    More than any other aspect of a blog — content rules. It will either elevate your blog or drag it into the darkness of oblivion.

    And while I am not advocating that you write lousy posts just to hit a quota, if you can’t consistently deliver 3-4 posts a week, perhaps you need to re-think the strategy, as opposed to continuing to do it badly.

    Drew

  14. As a Newbie, I am always searching online for articles that can help me. Thank you.

  15. You really hit the nail on the head Drew!! You definitely must comment on other peoples blogs and stick to the point on their topic!! Then if they like what you said they will return to you the favor.

    Lawrence Bergfeld

  16. Drew – thanks for checking out my post and replying to my questions! Very helpful.

    Jocelyn Wallace
    http://www.jocelynwallace.com

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