Does Blogging Work? Five Years At The Table
After five years of blogging, looking back it is a medium that shapes character development and encourages deeper connectivity.
In short, it works.
Whilst five years of blogging in the grand scheme of things when compared to much more revered marketers and influencers is a small splash in a bigger pool, it has been something I have kept with every week (for 260 weeks).
I put my flag in the sand on January 19th 2012 (and this is my 473rd post) have a look at the first article.
What I want to share is how you can build momentum if you are looking to become more committed to getting your blog engine purring. It is also an answer to a question from someone else last week. It was a simple “does blogging work?”
Lets break this article into two sections:
- How it works
- Does it work?
How It Works
At the end of 2012, I was about to put this whole writing process in the bin. When looking at any interaction and analytics it was proving fruitless.
No one was reading.
Looking back now, I didn’t really have a defined voice but generic ‘how to’ articles that did not have a personal reflection or backed up with experience/the facts. Articles such as ‘how to win with the first impression’ and ‘how can you grow your business?’ had generic undercurrents that you can read anywhere, with limited thought.
To become comfortable, you have to be ok with being rubbish at the beginning.
What changed was trying to please search engines and started writing from a personal perspective centred on how the marketing discipline is changing. This is where the owned media topic started to take shape.
This has enabled an audience to grow through association, rather than being a stranger at the end of a keyword search.
On top of that a huge dollop of persistence went down really well.
There are traits back then, that are true today.
When I started breaking down into a framework of fact, experience and opinion, this provided a structure for everything.
By being committed, helped centralise my thoughts, collate information and then interpret. Everything that you read is me, it was the same then, it was the same now.
This Is How You Can Find Momentum
First of all you need a plan.
What is it you want to accomplish? Is it to channel your own thoughts and to share them? Is it to build an audience to create a stronger network? Is it to find a way to connect on a deeper level with others?
There has to be a point of difference. Rather than being generic industry related articles, what hasn’t been shared is your version. This provides so much more ease when you know the responsibility you have and the space in the marketplace you are looking to build.
The companies that are successful with blogging are those with a specific focus on a niche. For instance, Farrow & Ball’s The Chromologist is centred on the role of owning colour, just as much as Perez Hilton has built his reputation on celeb gossip (pretty extreme examples from the spectrum, but I hope you get what I mean).
To be committed, you have to have an idea that sits within your marketplace that has the ability to grow.
It is easy to press the self promote button, but the core premise is to provide value to others. I have also noticed that what I have published is also a snapshot of where we all are.
It’s a scrapbook of thinking, looking and assessing what’s broken and how we make things better. From PokemonGo to Brexit, to AFC Bournemouth winning promotion to the Premier League to banal posts on LinkedIn, it presents a reference point for my thinking in real time and encouragement to share this with others (to have a response from someone else is a huge buzz).
A Framework You Can Use, That Seems To Work
To do this, here is a framework that I have adopted:
- you become immersed in the world that you are part of, not the agenda you have, namely how it all relates back to how good your business is.
- the ideas that occur, write them down. I use Evernote or a Moleskin (thanks Dan Willis). A good thought in a shower, is just a good thought in a shower, unless it is acted upon.
- you put time aside each week. For instance, my writing starts on a Monday evening and will pick the second draft up the following day. I tend to have zero distractions, that means not watching the live Premier League game at 8pm.
- I write like I talk, this makes the copy more conversational.
- The drafts are in Word and then transferred to WordPress, when happy with the final edit (and spell checked).
- a typical post is between 1,000 and 1,500 words.
- The article is published late Wednesday/Thursday morning.
- This is shared to my immediate audience first (they need to feel they get something before everyone else). These are the subscribers to the weekly You Are The Media email, where the article becomes the headliner.
- The article is then promoted either four hours to a day later on Twitter and LinkedIn (in January I opened the ID Group Facebook page with the intention for some paid reach. To get some inbound, a bit of outbound can help).
- I will personally reply to anyone that responds.
- Monday evening….repeat with a new article.
- Two weeks after the initial post it is syndicated within LinkedIn.
My biggest points to reiterate for you to find a rhythm are:
- say something with your own stamp. So what if people think you’re wrong, as long as you can back it up with more than an opinion. For instance, if you are an estate agent, tell me how the local schools look on the Ofsted report, not bang on about #lovingwherewelive.
- put time aside that is yours. Whether it is 30 minutes in the coffee shop to explore and delve into subject matter to a few hours at home during the week, make time that is yours. It has to be an enjoyable process.
- write an idea down, don’t think you can remember it the following day.
- promoting your content is just as important as creating your content. If you can build a core audience, this saves budget for reach.
The Source Of Income Bit
You cannot go into this thinking it will be a source of income by its own accord.
If that is a reason, don’t waste your time. You will not make money directly from your blog. However it can become the thread to which other revenue streams can be created.
The blog is there for an audience to use as a reference tool and for you to be seen as a trusted resource by others. It is a way to validate what you believe in and acknowledgement that a website is miles better when it provides value to others rather than a post of the team away day.
Ask yourself, “whenever did a photo of a project delivered for a client ever challenge, entertain and inform others?”
Does It Work?
If this is the bit you skipped to, then shame on you. However, you’re here now.
If you are looking for a short cut, then stick to the get rich opportunities and the gaming the system type posts/once in a lifetime offers.
The moment it works is when you have some form of engagement (email or social) from a prospective customer, or someone from within your professional field of vision, that says ‘I enjoyed that.’ The ability to connect with current or potential customers where they acknowledge your point of view and belief system is a huge differentiator that you curated.
Whilst others encourage the collection of eyeballs, from more page views as a measure of success, traffic as a goal and to pleading others to visit another social page, that is different from the place you are currently on, are naive metrics.
This represents the pursuit of a popularity contest.
Whilst exposure is important, it represents a lesser part of a two-pronged attack:
- nurture more meaningful conversations that can lead to revenue (80%)
- increase exposure to bring more people to the space you have ownership (20%)
As I have highlighted you cannot make money from your blog, but if it leads to greater connectivity that grows a customer base and better customers that are in tune with your thinking and part of your web of wider activity, then I can guarantee that it works.
For instance, the You Are The Media Lunch Club is a monthly live blog. It highlights the topics that have been covered during the month and adds more relevance with each invited guest. The focus is what they have done to take ownership of a space to monetise and build.
Introducing work shops also allows people to track a line of thinking, rather than the very bold promotion of a session on Eventbrite where there is no online or offline footprint. This is an extremely risky strategy if you do not have a ready made audience and becomes a drain on time and budget, It all traces back to the blog that allows the development of further initiatives, built on the foundation from a particular viewpoint.
If you have just started, it will work. It takes patience and resilience. When the outcome is deeper connections, people having a better understanding of you and the ability to have others share and participate, can put you in a stronger position than organised groups and business networks that have been in place for generations.
Imagine creating your own network where you become the conductor of your own orchestra. Not you waiting for your moment on the clarinet.
Lets Round Up
When you create something that people want to read, that has its DNA in the marketplace you serve, it can attract people.
Whatever you create has to come back to the thing that your business stands for (have a read of the spark and framework article that explains in more detail). If you can do it consistency (this doesn’t mean every day), you can build deeper connections and conversations.
The distractions to watch another episode of Designated Survivor will always be present. If you can train yourself to shut things out and start digging in, it can become a platform that opens up a network you wouldn’t have if you just relied on a website that just sat there, dormant.
It can become the heartbeat and it can become the conversation builder, that you have complete control.
If you can pursue an idea and belief system, see where the wings will take you.