Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, syndicated columnist, public speaker and author of Never Get a “Real” Job. The content of this post was sourced from the Young Entrepreneur Council, a non-profit led by the world’s top young entrepreneurs. You can submit your questions to this group on YoungEntrepreneurCouncil.com.
Blogging isn’t easy — and certainly not for individuals who don’t have the capacity or desire to commit their minds and time to a long-term cause. In an age where everyone and their mother has access to Blogger, Tumblr, Posterous or other flavor-of-the-year services, getting your blog to be well-trafficked, highly syndicated and massively popular is no easy task.
Know this before you consider blogging as a marketing option for your business: Even though you can write a blog, doesn’t mean you should. Not every business needs one, no matter what the “one-size-fits-all” startup books and “experts” say. In fact, for most businesses, it will be an utter waste of precious selling time that will not meet your expectations. Cutting corners or half-assing this exercise will do nothing more than lead you to produce advertorial dribble.
Should you decide that blogging is the right marketing vehicle for you and/or your business, know that there are many tried-and-true ways to organically build traction, create awareness over time and achieve value for your small business. I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs how to ensure that your blogging efforts remain on point, effective and primed for success.
1. Become an Industry Expert
Use the blog to position yourself as an industry expert. Write about what’s going on at your company, but also consolidate important and interesting industry happenings so that others will look to you as a resource and expert in the field. Make your blog worth reading by collecting valuable content and making it easier to stay on top of for readers.
– Stephanie Kaplan
Facebook: Stephanie Kaplan
2. Always Be Adding Value
Absolutely don’t create a advertorial time drain … We have plenty of those around! Write something that adds value instead. Write something that educates, inspires, and informs your audience. Real life stories written by readers are the best way to keep the content engaging. Success stories in your genre/industry could be a great start to involve masses at both ends, creating and consuming content.
– Devesh Dwivedi
3. Blogging Is a Big Commitment
If you’re not willing to put the hard and persistent effort into building an audience over a prolonged period of time, your best bet might be to look at guest writing opportunities on existing blogs, websites, email newsletters or even in print publications which have large and established readerships. Every publisher and media company is always looking for quality contributors who deliver value.
– Matt Mickiewicz
4. Reader Loyalty Cannot Be Bought
There is no overnight method to create a respected and popular blog. Remember, general “hits” are insignificant compared to loyal readers — and there is no way to build loyalty immediately. Focus on providing excellent content by balancing both company insights and personality. A good blog to model for you may be 37 Signals‘. Then use social media platforms to share your posts wherever possible.
– Kent Healy
Facebook: Kent Healy
5. Network, Share and Repeat
“If you build it, they will come” is not how it works with blogs and websites. You need to focus on creating unique content, and when you do post something, be sure to share it with everyone in your network. Never underestimate those in your network because they may just be the people who become your voices.
– Ashley Bodi
Facebook: Ashley Bodi
6. Be Passionate, and Show Your Readers Some Love
As we know, anyone can set up a blog in a day or so, but it takes quite a bit more work to be a superb blogger and start realizing the real benefits of blogging. Creating entertaining and informative posts based on specific experiences and statistics is a fast track way to grow a loyal readership. Show your readers that their comments are appreciated, make sure you respond to them!
– Adam Toren
Facebook: Young Entrepreneurs
7. Solve Your Readers’ Problems
Too many companies focus the company blog on promoting a product line and trying to make more sales rather than focusing on solving readers’ problems. Think of questions and concerns your audience has or better yet, ask them. Then address those concerns on the blog. For example, a mechanic shop can discuss car maintenance tips and tell readers what they need to know before buying a new car.
– Natalie MacNeil
Company: She Takes on the World
Facebook: She Takes on the World
8. Don’t Start a Blog, Just Write for Other Blogs
If you aren’t willing to commit to developing a high quality blog (it’s hard), then don’t start one. Instead, develop relationships with other successful bloggers in your industry. Ask whether you can write an occasional blog post for them and point back to your company website. This is a great way to optimize your exposure and stay non-committal about writing a regular blog post.
– Eric Bahn
9. Know Thy Audience
Your blog content should appeal first and foremost to your customers and potential customers. Think about what they would want to read and form your content around meeting their needs in a unique way. To increase readership, you can include links to these articles in your company email newsletter.
– Elizabeth Saunders
Company: Real Life E®
10. Remember the Two Month Rule
Blogging won’t be a successful marketing avenue for you overnight. It might never be. Here’s a good test: The first two months of starting a blog are the most difficult because it feels like nobody is reading. If you can keep yourself focused on a topic and remain consistent over that first two month period then you probably have what it takes to run a successful blog. If you can’t, just stop.
– Ryan Paugh
Company: Brazen Careerist
Facebook: Ryan Paugh
11. Interview the Big Dogs
Interviews are a great source of content and allow you to tap into others networks. Find the experts in your industry and especially the experts with an online presence who will mention the interview.
– Jared O’Toole
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Image courtesy of Flickr, aaaMaria Reyes-McDavis