Life is funny - two or three years ago I would have maintained that blogging was well outside of my job description. I run a business, why would I need to write advice columns and how-to guides? And yet here I am, happily writing exactly that for those sitting in their office, faces dimly lit by the computer monitor, wondering if they should try their hand at business blogging. It's a great way to gain online recognition, but there are plenty who only write to promote themselves or their business, thinking that people want to read an 800-word advertisement; trust me, they don't. So to help my fellow entrepreneurs, here are a few pointers I've picked up.
1. Broaden your horizons
You probably know a lot about whatever it is your business sells - at least I hope you do. Naturally, this will mean you'll feel more comfortable writing specifically about that, churning out industry news, analysis, and reports. But if that is all you do, you'll be pinning yourself in a corner when it comes to readers. Most entrepreneurs/business bloggers aren't paid - we write to gain recognition and, hopefully, a few more customers. That means you want to cast a wide net. Break out a little bit, stretch your legs, and write about something else that may interest you. One of my biggest articles on this site was about Pinterest, which is pretty darn far from what my business actually does. Try to keep abreast on the news of the day. I've found that Twitter's trending topics are extremely useful if I want to stay in the loop, and they can even lead to other outlets looking for writers for a particular story.
2. Remember, you can walk away
Unfortunately I recently had to make the decision to stop contributing with one of our outlets because the original editor had gone on to bigger and better things, and the new editor took his job as gatekeeper extremely literally. Every time I sent something in, he would knock it back and I'd spend days re-writing an article that would have done perfectly well on any other site because he had a vision for his site that I didn't fit in anymore. So I decided to walk away from that outlet, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing just that. Either the outlet should let articles rise or fall on their own merit, or you and the editor need to see eye to eye. If you don't, you'll be filled with inescapable dread anytime your inbox pings and that editor's e-mail flashes up. Just don't burn any bridges, no matter how mad they might make you. After all, you don't want your name to be blacklisted from other sites.
3. Don't give up.
Writing is a thankless job, which can be kind of odd for those of us who have worked for years within an environment of promotions, praise, and raises. I was kind of hurt the first time I posted something and didn't receive a torrent of comments and confirmation. But if you choose to be a part-time blogger, you really should commit to yourself to it. Don't let yourself lapse into ambivalence or laziness because you don't think anyone is reading. I've gotten comments and tweets on articles that were months old - and that's ancient by the standards of the internet. Even though you'll never be made Corporate Executive Blogger and get a nice corner office, just keep writing. Someone out there is enjoying your golden words!
Perseverance really is the key to success in the world of business blogging. Ask your favorite outlets if they're looking for contributors, maintain your own blog, write articles even if you don't have someone in line to publish them - if nothing else, it forces you to use your brain. And there is something rewarding about seeing your name next to things you've written, dotting the internet like a handful of breadcrumbs. If you think you can put in the hours necessary to create a strong presence then go for it, just please don't trick us into reading three pages on why your business is great.
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation, an online filing services company that specializes in incorporations and LLCs. Find her online at mycorporation.com and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.