Before beginning this post I searched the term “Blog off”. Just out of interest, not that I was stuck for ideas or anything! Blogging seems to be central to not only online marketing but also to a lot of people’s lives. I’m of the mind-set that if everybody is doing it and thinks it’s great and can’t exist without it, then I’m damn well not going to do it. I mean, you’re like nobody if you don’t blog. I like being nobody because it can get you further than you might think. But, blogging has been with us for centuries – it used be called being a diarist – so perhaps it deserves a second, third or even fourth look.
So what is this blogging then?
First things first then, what is a blog? As mentioned above it’s nothing scarier than a diary. Of course, if you’ve ever had a friend or relative read your highly secret diary, then you’ll have every reason to be wary of diaries. Diaries and journals have been with us for centuries – they’re a valuable source of historical data – providing insight not just into the great moments of history but what people really thought about them, if they noticed them at all. History is written by the victor, so if you want to know what everybody else was thinking check out the diaries of the day. Writers and artists have used diaries for centuries as well, to capture those annoyingly fleeting things called thoughts; at the time some of those thoughts might appear irrelevant – but any writer will tell you that everything is material, everything.
Talking to yourself is good
Blogging then is just a form of self-expression. It’s about one person talking to nobody in particular, but possibly an audience of millions. There are blogs out there that can make your brain bleed thanks to their sheer, un-adulterated tediousness – sorry, I’ve been doing a lot of research on this. But there are blogs that are brilliant, witty, funny and even life changing. Some writers have even sold their blogs for millions; so there must be something in this form of talking to yourself.
But blogging for business?
OK, keeping a diary from a corporate point of view might be a bit puzzling. One market leading chain of superstores published a blog by its CEO. All about him losing weight, at least I think that’s what it was, although the only thing I lost was interest. Blogs can have influence though, partly because they are such an old form of writing, and mainly because of their human interest element. The good ones can create interest and discussion in a way that your product pages simply won’t. The real trick is to engage readers, to keep them coming back. That’s why and how blogs work; engaged readers simply means one that love reading your ‘stuff’ and like to comment on it now and then. Getting a discussion going about your posts not only helps with the old search engine ranking and all that annoying but necessary link building, but actually can bring bright, shiny and willing new customers to your virtual doorstep.
So what’s the right approach?
Well, that question should join the queue behind the one about the piece of string, but: be human, start a conversation. If you’re not looking for conversation with your customers avoid blogging at all costs. Conversations act in a number of ways – you can use them to find out what people are looking for, what your ‘audience’ wants. Then you can work out how to provide it. Conversations can also make people like you, admire you or even want to emulate you. They can do the opposite, of course, so tread carefully! Building trust in this way is absolutely vital to anybody operating their business on the internet. Trust is not something you can easily buy and consumers still worry about the safety of purchasing from the ‘faceless’ internet. Your blog posts can be controversial, outrageous (in the right circumstances) and totally unrelated to your products. The latter approach can even be the most successful because it builds a strong element of trust. Sat in front of a computer screen it can be easy to forget that you are human, that you’re trying to deal with other humans – but whatever you do don’t forget that. Blogs, and their predecessors, have started revolutions; so don’t underestimate them.
Blogging is nothing new and YES it has been around for centeries under one name or another, but SEO Copywriting on the other hand….
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