Blogging, particularly in its early incarnations, was associated with the personal: the unstructured, free-flowing ramblings of the individual, on a particular cause, interest, or indeed obsession.
From its earliest days, this open and easy form of ‘citizen journalism’ abounded with tales of ‘kitchen sink’ blogs that made their creators fortunes from just a few nuggets of homespun wit.
In truth, the efforts of blogging stars like Perez Hilton are a far cry from the odd stream of consciousness splurge on a blog-for-free site.
The so-called ‘personal’ blogs that make the big time have certain key characteristics in common – and these are equally applicable in ensuring the success of your B2B blog. Here are some of those essential considerations:
Define your area of interest and cultivate it. The celebrity, fashion or culture blogs that have broken through into mainstream consciousness, and achieved though leadership status, had started with a niche interest, or clearly defined subject area. In this vain, when starting a blog, think about what your business does and what your message is. Then distil from this a focus for your blog that will best showcase your value, expertise, and authority as voice for your industry or sector most effectively.
Identify your audience and what interests them. The audience of a successful blog is typically identified from the outset. Or based on the blog’s niche subject matter, the audience is quickly defined as it emerges when attracted by clear, consistent, subject specific content, which quickly establishes a blog as a confident, confidence enducing, reliable source. As your blog develops, employ an analytics tool to monitor your growing audience, and identify the content that is pulling them in, and use these insights as a guide for the development of further content.
Keep it simple. It’s an important rule of thumb in the digital sphere that what’s successful is simple. Just consider some of the Internet’s most successful platforms; their design and appearance are relatively simple and therefore user friendly and engaging. This point extends to your blog content.
Clearly define the subject of a post in its headline, and keep it as short and punctuation free as possible. Strike a tone that is conversational or newsy. Remember that everyone is familiar with the structure of the newspaper news piece, or a chatty feature article. Therefore, aim to bring the ‘beginning, middle, and end’ format of a newspaper article to your blog, focusing on key points, dispensing with extraneous details, and avoiding the temptation to go wherever your thoughts take you. It’s fine to be chatty in tone, but crucial to lead the reader through your post with a logical, familiar, narrative-centric structure.
This principle will help you to impart a professional, authoritative impression, and convince the reader that they have accessed a direct channel to the thoughts and expertise of an industry insider – rather than a rambling amateur.
State it clearly. It’s important to remember that irrespective of your industry sector, or blog subject matter, the digital sphere is vast and you are potentially competing against multiple platforms and other niche blogs for your readers’ attention. In addition, readers will invest just a few seconds in assessing your blog and its content; therefore, not only is it important to keep the format simple, it is crucial to state your message early and clearly, beginning in the headline and the opening paragraph.
It’s vital to engage the reader at once, giving them the impression that your content will be virtually effortless to read, and will benefit them by investing just a few minutes of their time. This a not a format for engaging in convoluted metaphors, or trying to show how clever you are by indulging in insider jargon, or space wasting technical spiel that is superfluous to your core message.