“I want to start a blog. What should I do?”
I have been hearing this question quite a bit lately from people in a wide range of professions. It’s a good one to be sure, however before I answer it, I would need to counter it with a follow up question:
“Why do you want to blog?”
First of all, when we refer to blogging it typically can mean different things for different people. At the lowest level, it is nothing more than the ongoing record of whatever musings or thoughts may come to your mind. From a marketing standpoint, however, whatever you write, it had better be something that people want to read. If your goal is to build prosperous business relationships by delivering value–by serving your prospect–then read on.
Among those who express an interest in starting a blog to support their business, I often observe that they will get caught up in the how. How do I set up a blog site? How do I log in? How do I post images? How do I share it and get others to know about it?
All legitimate questions to be sure, however–more important than the how at this point, is the what.
So you want to start a blog. What do you want to blog about?
Correction: what do you want to write about?
Don’t become so lost in the media that you forget about the message. If you are truly interested in leveraging a blog feature to build your brand and deliver value to your prospects and clients, and have never done it, then I have a simple take away here for you.
Before you get lost in the details of how to set up a blog feature on your existing site, or create a new site all together (WordPress being the most popular platform for doing so), you should focus first on what you will write about. What information will you share that serves your readers–your prospects? Consider these simple steps:
1. Ask yourself: What twelve questions do I find myself answering again and again for my prospects and clients?
You may or may not be able to sit down right now and write them out. Perhaps you can’t come up with a dozen. Perhaps, and hopefully, you can come up with many more. If you can’t think of them now, that’s fine. Over the next week or two, keep a small note pad handy and with you at all times as you go about your day. As you get questions thrown your way–write them down. Begin making your list.
2. Review your questions, edit and refine them.
Do any of them overlap or repeat? The more often you hear a variation of essentially the same question, the higher a priority it should be because that reflects a more compelling knowledge gap among your prospects that you can address.
3. Got a dozen? Got two dozen? More? Great. Create a calendar.
For the next three to six months, map out an editorial calendar, assigning one question per week. These are the topics you will be writing about. Answers to some questions may be more complex than others. If a topic is more in depth, consider breaking it into a two-parter, over two weeks.
4. Begin to write and post.
Don’t make this more daunting than it needs to be. If writing is not something you are accustomed to doing, don’t be too concerned about that. The real issue is this: are these questions you have listed ones that you are accustomed to answering? Do you address them with ease, due to your knowledge, experience and passion for helping others? If so you are all set. Here is what you do:
- Imagine that the question you are addressing has come to you from a specific prospect or client in an email.
- Sit down and write your reply, and try to keep it within 300 words or so.
These are the essential and most important first steps. I’m not going to go into the mechanics of posting, sharing, or optimizing for search engine optimization (SEO) for that matter because if you haven’t focused on these first important steps, nothing else matters. Focus on a content plan (the calendar) and a strategy (serving your prospect, answering their questions and solving their problems). Do this first. Keep it simple. And have fun.
And if you have further questions about setting up a WordPress blog site and all the other stuff, send me a note. I would be happy to answer any questions you have or point you in the right direction.