Friday, March 9, 2007

13 tips for birthing your blog

posted by Andy Leff
Admit it -- you have blog envy.

You cruise the blogosphere, peruse diverse blog designs and topics, and think, “I could do this! I could blog for my business!”

So you pick a Blogger template. Brainstorm a funky title. Sit down to type. And then ... nothing. You've been stricken by blogging dysfunction (B.D.), a common side effect of starting a blog without having a clue how to sustain it.

Seun and I are committed to eliminating B.D. from the Web 2.0 world, and YOU are our first patient. The prescription: Read these 13 tips (no longer the unlucky number) and comment in the morning.

1. Passion makes perfect. Don't even THINK about pursuing a blog strategy if you have no real passion or excitement for the topic. Ambivalence will manifest as lukewarm, uninspired posts -- a huge turn-off to potential readers. Passion, on the other hand, breathes life and interest into the blog, and encourages readers to come back for more. Besides, loving what you blog about will reinforce your commitment to update and manage the blog.

2. Go at it regularly.
Write on your topic(s) daily, weekly, monthly -- whatever works best with your schedule, material, and audience. The important thing is to stay consistent and reliable. This assures your readers can count on new material, and you can get into a regular habit.

3. Write well. Make sure your writing skills are up to par. If you can't construct a simple sentence, or if you simply hate writing, outsource the material. Find a writer or company who can adopt your voice and craft your posts.

4. Be transparent. The blogosphere will tear you limb from limb if they discover you're a 'flog' (fake blog). Stay completely transparent and honest about the blog's purpose, its contributors' backgrounds, and its source material.

5. Variety = spice of life. Choose a variety of topics that impact and interest your customers. This kicks the blog up a notch from product or service pitching, and transforms it into a relevant resource for your target audience. They'll read you, share you, reference you, and, most important, get to know you.

6. Find the link love. Read and understand other bloggers in the universe who cover the same topics. Link to them on your blog, let them know you endorse them, and hope that they reciprocate with a similar shout-out. This is called 'link love' -- establishing relationships with the other bloggers for mutual exposure.

7. Comment to encourage conversation. Blogging is a conversation. It doesn't work one way. Take the time to review and respond to comments left on your site. This serves two purposes: It personally connects to your readers, and it helps you gauge if you're reaching your intended audience. Conversely, comment on other blogs, and link back to your blog. This will help you tap more interested readers, and offer them your relevant material.

8. Claim your blog on Technorati. This blog tracker searches, surfaces, and organizes blogs and other online content. Registering with Technorati increases your exposure, and helps promote the blog to a specific audience. Plus, it will help YOU navigate the nearly 71 million blogs now in existence.

9. Digg your blog for results.
Add Digg and links to your blog. This makes it easy for readers to tag your stories, sending them into mainstream readership. If the post is particularly eye-catching, it might even become featured on the taggers' homepages -- a terrific way to reach thousands of new readers.

10. Build your social network. Most social network sites offer free profile setups. The obvious example is MySpace, the biggest and most popular with millions of users. If you do choose to set up a profile, remember your audience, and network with the appropriate communities.

11. Design matters. Just as your fingerprints mark your identity, so should your blog design speak for your business. Keep it clean and simple. Too much clutter, and people won't read. Too little content, and they won't stay.

12. Buy Google AdWords. Evaluate your budget. If you have the money, you might want to invest in online advertising. This technique, which is gaining popularity among businesses, is another helpful way to drive traffic to your blog.

13. Go viral. Companies are increasingly turning to YouTube and other video sites to air commercials, presentations, and other videos. Producing a viral video is a cheap, fast way to expose thousands of eyeballs to your business. Once it's up, include the video on your blog to get the ball rolling among your core audience.

There's much more advice where this comes from, but we'll wait for future posts to dish it out. In the meantime, good luck and God speed, fellow blogger! We look forward to reading you.

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