It's the most important part of the Internet today. It's a highly controversial issue in the area of free speech. It's the reason anybody in the world – businessperson, grad student, church pastor, pilot or teenager - can have a voice.
It's a blog. And if you don't know what that word means, prepare to be enlightened. Let's start with the facts. The following list will give you a crash course on blogging basics:
A blog is a journal that is available on the web, short for the word “weblog”
Blogs generally represent the personality of an individual or website
A blog is a frequent, chronological publication of personal thoughts and Web links
The activity of updating a blog is "blogging," someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger," and all the blogs in the world represent the “blogosphere”
Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog
A blog is often a mixture of what is happening in a person's life and what is happening on the Web, a kind of hybrid diary/guide site, although there are as many unique types of blogs as there are people
People maintained blogs long before the term was coined, but the trend gained momentum with the introduction of automated published systems, most notably Blogger at blogger.com
The content and purposes of blogs varies greatly—from links and commentary about other web sites, to news about a company/person/idea, to diaries, photos, poetry, mini-essays, project updates, even fiction."
Ok. Now that you're up to speed on the term, let's explore six ways to pump up your posting prowess.
TIP #1: Consistency
Technorati is THE authority on what's going on in the world of blogs. According to their website, they currently track 20.8 million blogs. Sadly, many of them lack consistency. And too many people create a blog simply for the sake of creating a blog. In other words, they're not updated regularly. The blogger posts a dozen or so posts initially, and then forgets all about it.
Therein lies the first key point: if you're going to blog, blog often. After all, it IS a marketing tool. You wouldn't run one newspaper ad on a random Tuesday and never advertise again. You'd do it consistently. So at the least, post more than twice a week.
TIP #2: Audience
If you post on a blog, you must talk directly to the reader. Keep it personal. Ask questions. Write conversationally. And don't be afraid to change your writing style to a more informal nature. Your readers will feel more comfortable posting their own comments after each of your posts. After all, that's the whole point of a blog: to create community. To create fans. And if you want to do that effectively, you must do so on a one-on-one basis.
TIP #3: Theme
All posts on your blog need to maintain consistency with your theme. So, before you even begin a blog, ask yourself the following question: If everybody who read my blog did exactly what I said, what would their world look like? Once you've answered that question, you'll have a foundation – a school of thought – to which all of your future blog posts will adhere.
Most blogs will have sections in which you can both name and explain what your blog is about. So, once you've uncovered your theme, you can easily come up with a pithy title and concise explanation. This will assure that every person who comes to your blog will know exactly what it's about as soon as they arrive.
TIP #4: Resource
Blogs aren't just for ranting, complaining, telling stores, asking questions and facilitating discussion. They're also resources. And each of your posts should contain at least one link to another blog or website that connects with your idea. This not only gives value to the reader, but creates internetworking opportunities as well. Because every time you connect your blog with someone else's, it's an opportunity to meet a fellow blogger with whom you can develop a mutually valuable relationship.
TIP #5: Visual
We live in a visual culture. People need stimulation. And when it comes to blogs, readers expect to see pictures, graphics, diagrams and other visuals to help accentuate your points. Use pictures from your own library, download free images that connect with your post, or even use picture links from other blogs. Whatever you do, just be sure to have something visual other than your words. After all, newspapers wouldn't sell very well without images, would they?
TIP #6: Sales
Many bloggers use their posts to help drive sales for their products or services which are consistent with the theme of the blog. The key to doing so successfully is accessibility and subtlety. So, make your products visible to your readers at all times. Scroll images of your items down one side of the page with links to your website. But keep the selling to a minimum. Readers of your blog don't want to be bombarded with ads. The average person already is exposed to 3000 ads a day, according to a 2003 UCLA study! So don't worry – informational, interesting and creative posts will do the selling for you.
With these six tips, you should have no trouble pumping up your posting prowess. So, start a blog today. And start reading other blogs today too. Because bloggers didn't get voted “Time Magazine's People of the Year 2004” for nothing!
Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, "The World's Foremost Expert on Nametags" and the author of HELLO my name is Scott and The Power of Approachability. He helps people MAXIMIZE their approachability and become UNFORGETTABLE communicators - one conversation at a time. For more information contact Front Porch Productions at http://www.hellomynameisscott.com.