Is all that blogging working for you?

I’m a believer in blogging.  I’ve been writing a monthly post for more than 10 years, and people do find me through my blog. 

Based on the numbers, I know lots of others have a similar faith in blogs.  I’m not sure of the official count, but my guess on the total number of blogs out there is about a billion, maybe two. 

Blogs are a standard part of the marketer’s repertoire, and for good reason.  Done well, they can help companies attract visibility and gain credibility.  If they’re publishing useful information, people that care about the topic should pay attention, and they may conclude that the writer is some kind of an expert.

But what if they’re not done so well?

Write about what the reader cares about

Sometimes blogs start off on the wrong foot right from the start.  Instead of being about topics the reader might care about, they’re all about the company and its products.  They’re just a series of promotional copy, barely disguised as a blog.  Who would want to regularly read something like that? 

My friend John Crowley writes a blog for People HR, a company that markets software for HR professionals.  It’s one of the most popular HR blogs in the U.K. and covers all kinds of topics that HR managers care about.  The blog only occasionally talks about HR software.  Mostly, it offers useful insights on video interviews, employee mental health, office dress codes, and workplace coffee etiquette.  One of its most popular posts is titled: “How to tell a colleague they smell.”

Write on a regular schedule

Lots of marketing people commit to a blog schedule that’s way too ambitious.  Though I’m sure their intentions are good, marketers that plan to crank out a blog post every week or even 2 or 3 times per week may underestimate just how much work that requires.  That initial flush of enthusiasm usually wanes after a few tortured weeks living under a deadline. 

I do see a post from Seth Godin every single day, even it’s only a few sentences, but that commitment is super-human.  On the other hand, thousands of us SaaS marketers – me included – avidly read For Entrepreneurs from David Skok, which he publishes only a few times per year.  

The lesson here is that consistency matters.  Publish on a regular schedule and commit the time and resources to hit that schedule.  Seeing a blog with the most recent post dated “2013” doesn’t send the right message. 

Show some personality 

One of the great things about blogs is how easy they are to publish.  No giant corporate infrastructure is required.  Someone with something useful to say can just have at it.  

And blogs are best when they actually sound like they’re written by someone – a real person – not some anonymous corporate oracle.  

I have no problem with blog writers adhering to corporate standards and reflecting the company’s particular culture.  But how many people are eager to regularly read a stream of disembodied corporate mush? 

My friend Michael Katz’s posts, useful advice for solo professionals, include stories about his family and friends. 

For years, my own blog posts included a family of cartoon characters to accompany them, hopefully to illustrate key points.  But when someone commented that the cartoons didn’t look “professional,” I left them out of a few issues.  

Surprisingly, I then got comments that readers missed the cartoons.   I missed them too.  So, I brought them back, “corporate image” be damned.    

Blogs can be a helpful marketing tool.  But if you choose to do one, make it interesting, publish it regularly, and don’t be afraid to show some personality.