Get your thick skin on or get out of here now, get into another article, and get on with your day.
Still with me? Cool. If you too have a low tolerance for turds, I reckon you're up for hearing what I've come to say.
Stop blogging bullsh*t.
I love digital media as much as you. But let's be frank: having specular tools for creating things doesn't mean you have the skills to create spectacular things. I could equip you with the best camera money can buy, but it won't make you a professional photographer. If you were to give me access to every piece of equipment in a state-of-the-art operating room would you then trust me to perform surgery on you?
So let me bring it home for you. Your handy dandy content management system may be a fabulously free passport to publishing, but what's the point in publishing poop?
I feel so much better now. So now I'm going to tell you (1) why most blogs stink and (2) how to build a blog that delivers the true benefits of blogging.
Real quick: why blog?
The reasons to blog are well documented and it's universally understood that more website content (of the strategic variety) equates to more website traffic. Let's thank Vertical Measures for giving us this succinct and smart list that nails the benefits of blogging in a recent article, "Does Your Company Need a Blog?" Author Ben Holland lists the following six benefits of blogging:
- Constant stream of new content
- Establish yourself as an expert
- More pages to appear in search engine results pages (SERP)
- Earn higher search rankings
- Keep people on your website longer
- Social engagement
And now for the stinky stuff...
Okay, so blogging's good for business. Naturally, you want to do things you believe will help make rain, so you jump in. But dammit, you just bought some new office equipment, outsourced a service to a new vendor, dropped a wad on an industry event, and invested in an expensive advertising program.
Money's tight, so getting into blogging on the cheap is more than tempting; it's your plan. Bad plan.
Why is it a bad plan? Because if you know an eensie weensie bit about SEO and apply that knowledge, people are going to read your blog. If it's full of shit, your website visitors will conclude your company is too.
I wrote this article because I find myself knee-deep in this kind of crap much more than occasionally. Here's my list of the six forms of blogging that offend much more than my nose:
The Big Promiser-I can cite examples until the cows come home... The headline's quite captivating. You click the story. You'd be crazy not to. But the article writer juked you with his headline writing skills and rambled on and on with complete disregard for delivering what he promised. Very annoying.
The Tabloidist-These writers have read the key to attracting eyeballs is taking advantage of your endless appetite for reading about the rich and famous. And so, these writers try to cash in with stories about Hiltons, Kardashians, politicians, athletes and the media sweeheart de jour. They hit a hot button by leading you to believe Angelina Jolie will play a role in their sweet little baby of a story, but what you read is irrelevant and Brad Pittiful.
The Word Thief-Content marketing experts often recommend you mine blogging ideas from contemporaries in your line of work. It's good advice. But plagiarism's not good. Ripping off other writers' words is easier than ever, but it's a crappy thing to do.
The Advertiser-The merger of editorial content and advertising is older than time. And it has its place. However, I feel it's fair to call foul on the blog that perpetually tries to disguise a product pitch as an article. These type of stories should come with a disclaimer because I don't want to read them. Do you?
The All-Knower-This blog sucks you in. When you first stumble upon it, you find some juicy nuggets relevant to your area of curiosity and then you subscribe. But later you're fed useless tips from every corner of this tip-happy world. That all-knowing tip dispenser is faking it. When I add a feed to my reader, I want to believe I'm subscribing to the insights of an expert. You can't be an expert on everything.
The Curation Crapper-This bloke resembles "the word thief," but he's slimier. He's not content just to steal ideas. He messes them up as well. I found a few of these criminals today. An article of mine went through some sort of blender, but the mucked-up mess still had my name on it. I'm not happy about it.
This is kinda' sorta' an advice article.
About 700 words ago I told you I'd deliver tips for creating a blog that actually delivers benefits. I thank you for enduring my rant and I'd like to try to reward you now by giving you some useful advice.
My man, my friend, a mentor of mine, Marcus Sheridan, did a stellar job of identifying "50 Qualities of the Best Business Blogs in the World." Consider his article (and all his content) recommended reading, but also consider hanging with me for my six favorite tidbits of wisdom he gave us on the subject.
Answer questions-Generally speaking, you pay to hear Marcus speak. I did. Thousands of people have and no one wants their money back. Marcus gets up in front of the crowd and pleads with you to take note of every question your customer asks you and publish the answers in the form of an article. He says doing so will earn you major league traffic, get readers to recognize your expertise and put their trust in you. Funny how the best teachers teach and preach such obvious stuff. John Wooden, the most accomplished coach ever, said you win basketball games by making layups.
Grow some balls-Marcus says "dang" and "golly," so blame me for kicking into this tip with locker room language. Still, his point, and my point too, is blog fearlessly. Is your bad news good news? For instance, do you charge more? Does your product require more something to get something out of? Say so. Last year at BlogWorld LA, Marcus asked a room of about 100 people how many publish information about their prices. A show of hands revealed approximately 5% go there. Next he asked how many people get asked about price from their customers. Guess how many people raised their hands?
Share the love-I'm taking the advice of Marcus right here and now. He says "shine the light on others doing it right in their industry." Can you give me one valid reason why you wouldn't do this? One of Marcus' companies sells underground pools. Ya' think he thinks he can get every pool contract in the country? Of course not. He wants you to hire the best vendors. He uses a blog as his platform and thanks to his command of inbound marketing, his company fields hundreds of requests to install pools outside of its geographical market. The point: align yourself with respectable companies.
Fun it-We may have finally arrived at my #1 point for this article: don't be boring. If you want to enjoy the benefits of blogging and don't have the skills on your current team, hire someone one who does. No one's going to endure your lessons unless they're fun.
Tell a story-Without naming names, I have to say some of the best advice artists are bloody boring. Stuffy stuff sucks. If you want to generate some traction for your blog, be real and tell authentic stories.
Interact-Do you do this? Your blog should be more than a data dump. Good ones create conversations. If you're not up for conversing with your readers, don't blog. Marcus says the best bloggers "show gratitude, support and sincere appreciation to those readers, fans, and other companies that support them."
What do you say we interact? If you can add something, please do.
Blogging is on my list of "21 Pointers to Sharpen Your Website," my no-nonsense advice for ditching the dull and making your site the immensely powerful marketing mecca it should be. If I may be frank, you really need to read it.