In previous posts, we covered some reasons why you might want to blog, we learned more about the process from a social media strategist, and we discussed how to name a blog. Hopefully you now see how letting your audience get to know you through a blog builds community and trust, establishes you as an expert, and benefits your business. Today we’re going to cover how to begin.
3 Things to Understand Before You Start Blogging
1. Understand why you’re blogging.
There are many reasons to blog as a small business owner, such as making yourself visible, establishing your expertise, providing value, engaging your readers, building community, attracting clients, and ultimately making money. But if you’re just starting to build your online presence, step one is to engage your readers by providing value. During the first few weeks or months in the life of most blogs, the traffic is quite light and the readers are few. A small readership allows you to try things out and see what your audience responds to. Since it’ll take some time to get a feel for blogging, this is actually good news and should alleviate some of the pressure you might be feeling. It’s OK to start slow and experiment!
2. Understand who you’re addressing.
It’s important to know the audience you’re targeting. Sometimes the target audience for the content of your blog and the people you’re trying to reach on a business level are the same, and sometimes they’re slightly different. To make this clearer, let’s contrast two examples:
Heather Stimmler-Hall, the author of Secrets of Paris, is a travel writer and Paris specialist who arranges private, guided tours of Paris. Her blog is targeted to Paris lovers who want to discover the hidden side of the City of Light. In her case, her target audience and her potential clients are one and the same.
The Interpreter Diaries is written by a conference interpreter and trainer. It’s targeted to future and current students of interpreting and to newly qualified interpreters. The author is providing a fantastic service that has made her visible in the broader interpreting community. When it comes to new work offers, however, it’s not the students and new interpreters who reach out to her, it’s the institutions they train and work in.
The approach you choose for your own blog will depend on your long-term goals, your industry, and your competitors.
3. Understand what your competitors are already doing.
Some sectors are already inundated with bloggers. The web and social media sector is a great example. A simple Google search will return hundreds of blogs on the topic. But when we searched to find blogs targeted to newbies, we were surprised that we couldn’t find any that met our standards! There’s lots of great information out there, but most of it soon gets too complex for the true beginner. We saw an opportunity to take a unique perspective, to put our storytelling and teaching skills to good use, and to provide value to the ongoing conversation.
Another great example is novelist Timothy Jay Smith’s blog, targeted to lovers of writing and good literature. Tim loves thinking about the writing process, but when he saw how many blogs already cover this topic, he decided to personalize his focus. Having had an exceptional career working in over forty countries and traveling in another sixty simply for pleasure, Timothy realized the stories he writes and cares about have grown from the places he’s been and the people he’s met. Now, he writes about those experiences and how they inspired his work, including his newly-released novel, “Cooper’s Promise.”
If the subject you want to blog about is already covered, there’s no need to be discouraged. Instead, find an opportunity to showcase your unique point of view and your specialty.
Look at all the blog examples we mentioned here and in earlier posts, and spend some time researching already existing blogs in your sector. Make a list of what you like and what you don’t like, and begin to get a sense of what you might want to include in your own blog. Try to determine the subject you’ll cover and the slant you’ll take, and begin to think about who your target audience is. We’ll dig deeper in the blogging how-tos over the next few weeks!