A friend who is relatively new to blogging asked me if my blog had helped me professionally. I could tell by the look on her face that she still wasn’t sold on the idea of blogging, nor were her posts flowing freely. I could also tell that she was wondering just exactly how a blog equated to paying the rent.
The thing is, there is no direct line to the cash. Which is the dirty truth that no one wants to speak about for most marketing. But that doesn’t make it any less important.
In a digital age, a blog can serve as an interactive platform for who you are or who your business is. If you approach it right, a blog can lay the groundwork that will eventually translate into revenue for whatever products or services you offer. But if you think that every time you post an article, a new client will appear, think again.
I like to think of blogging as free marketing. I’ll repeat that. FREE. And because I like to write and create content.
No, slash that, LOVE to write, blogging for me is fun.
Which is very important to mention if you are of the ilke that believe there is no reason to do anything if you are not making money. Fun is a reason to do a lot of things and sometimes that fun can lead to money.
Consider what Carol Burnett said in an interview on The View when asked if she had any idea in 1967, the first year The Carol Burnett Show aired, the impact it would have on television. Her answer was no. All that had been agreed upon with the cast was that no matter what, they were going to have fun with each other. In that case an objective of “fun” led to an eleven year series run.
If you’re having fun, chances are the voice you are writing in will be much more authentic. Authenticity is how you build your following, your audience or in the words of Seth Godin, your tribe. And by authentic, I mean authentic. Not trying to be authentic.
I started blogging in 2008. There weren’t as many people blogging then. Social Networks like LinkedIn had not opened their platform up for all to use. Medium did not exist. But that has not made blogging any less important. In fact, I believe it has raised the bar for what makes really good, engaging content.
Blogging hasn’t made me rich. But it has helped me to establish my brand and a following and to grow my business. It’s also proven to be a wonderful way for prospective clients to get a better feel of who I am and if we will be a good fit.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
A blog is a stake in the ground that says who or what you are.
I launched this blog on November 18, 2008, just three months into the redesign of my business life. I was on unsteady feet, not sure exactly what my life moving forward was going to look like. Creating this blog was symbolic for me. It was a place for me to come to, every day, to evaluate, to think and to shout to the world that I was on a new adventure.
A blog is a digital billboard of who you are.
Whether you are a CEO or an entrepreneur, a blog that you consistently contribute to is part of your digital platform. It is a chance for you to share expertise, ideas and information and establish yourself as an influencer. Including a subtle call to action is always a good idea. But if all you’re doing is shameless self-promotion, you’re thinking like a traditional advertiser and pushing a message no one is interested in hearing.
Blog because you have something to say that you think is worth sharing.
A lot of people approach blogging as something they should be doing instead of wanting to do. Many start blogging with the intention of getting attention. Or new customers. Or people to sign up for their latest class or buy their latest widget. Those are all good reasons and vehicles to create owned content.
I freely admit I harbor a fantasy that the next blog I write might be the one that goes viral or soars my books to the #1 spot on the New York Times Best Seller List. But trust me, when I have tried to make that happen, it’s a disaster.
What I have found works best is to blog consistently and offer content with the intention it is useful, relevant, perhaps humorous and insightful.
Write for you first.
If you write to please others, that’s exactly how you will come across. Don’t over think. As a writer first and foremost, I consider my blog to be writing practice that I happen to share with the world. I never think of it as my absolute best writing, because I don’t give it as much time as I would a full length article or book. That is not what blogging is about. But it is my writing. And I strive to make it good writing, reflective of me and my perspective.
Blog because you can.
Less than one hundred years ago women were not allowed to vote in this country. Today not only can I vote, but blogging has given me the freedom to voice whatever I am thinking – without censure. I don’t need a big corporation behind me to fund my writing (although I am always opening to funding ;)) My blog is a way for me to contribute to the greater good. A place where I can say what I want and trust that at least one other person, somewhere, benefits from that.
It’s okay for your blog to take a vacation.
Consistency is key in content creation. It’s what I recommend to my clients and I consider essential to the care and feeding of a blog. But sometimes it’s okay to take a break – whether the reason is a true vacation or because other projects have taken priority. It’s a good idea to let your readers know. It’s a bad idea to turn out mediocre content rather than take the break.
I’m planning one soon. I’ll keep you apprised.