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Tara and I are hosting another session of our online class, Crafting an Effective Blog (How to make a blog that actually improves your business – without being spammy). We start soon – August 6th! And I thought I’d talk a little about how this class came to be, and why you might want to take it.
I think that, when you’re brand-new to blogging, you need to give youself plenty of time and space. You need to get used to the workflow of keeping a blog, and you need to grow into a sense of comfort with sharing of yourself online week by week. You can find plenty of guides online for how to do all of this (heck, some of them I wrote), but at the end of the day, you also need to do the work. Write blog posts regularly for a good six months. Blogging has few shortcuts.
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…But eventually, you may reach a point where you’re comfortable blogging, and you want your blog to support a small business of some kind. Maybe your blog came first, or maybe the business came first. Either way, you can make this work.
Here’s the thing, though: the advice we blog teachers were giving bloggers even a year ago is already becoming a little obsolete. I don’t think blogging itself has changed, but blog reading certainly has. We’ve talked a lot about this here. People are reading fewer blogs than they used to, and they’re tending to pay less daily attention to the blogs they do read. People are watching their social media streams for random links from friends, and following those. They’re checking their feed readers less often. They’re pinning and stumbling. Reaching people with a blog involves a different set of skills now than it did a few years ago.
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…And this is why Tara and I developed this class. We wanted to work with people who have established blogs, and help them use these blogs more effectively as business tools in a swiftly-evolving landscape. Here are a few key points of our class:
• There’s a difference between readers and customers. Your business offers a specific product or service. Your blog talks about it. But who is listening? People who actually need that product or service, or people who like you personally and enjoy the freebies you’re sharing? How do you locate the people you actually need to be reaching?
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• In an information-abundant world, you need to share the right information. People are currently favoring social media over blogs, but that doesn’t mean blogging is dying. Your blog continues to be a living resume that gives interested people the inside story on you and what you do. But, when you’re trying to capture scarce attention in the world, every word you say on a blog is important, and most of your words should point to an overall message you want your blog to communicate. What is that message for you, and how do you make it compelling?
• People can only do what you ask them to do. If your blog serves as a business marketing tool, then sooner or later you’ll have to find a creative way to talk about your business, and make it clear that there are things to buy, and why these things are of a high enough value to buy. Believe me (because I learned this the hard way), you can’t just share great freebies and hope people will notice your online store. Your blog content has to gently guide them there time and again, and gently suggest what you want them to do. (This is, of course, dicey, because nobody wants to read a blog that’s one long ad. So how do you spin your sales message into a good story?)
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• This stuff takes planning. The last thing we do in our class is work up an editorial plan for your blog. You can plan a couple days ahead or a year ahead, whatever works for you – but you’ll have the best chance of creating a high-quality content stream that guides people to your business if you design what you’re going to say week by week. There’s an overall rhythm to these things; some days are for engaging stories, some days for teasers and reminders, some days for announcements, and so on. How often do you need to blog? How long should your posts be? What will they say?
You can get more details on our upcoming class over here. It’s a very interactive 8-day session, and we spend most of it giving people one-on-one help. The whole group also becomes a great “think tank” for bouncing ideas around and helping each other see those details we sometimes miss. Tara and I would love to have you join us!