Want to be seen as an expert in your field? Traditionally, you had to either hammer down the door of a well-read industry magazine or tread the boards on the conference speaking circuit. Luckily for today’s consultants and professional companies, it is now far easier. If you want to take the first step on the ladder of thought leadership, start writing a business blog and reap the rewards.
In the last year blogs have become mainstream. They are everywhere: newspapers, radio stations, celebrities, politicians, schools and companies are all getting in on the act. But for many businesses, blogging can be a daunting prospect.
Why should I start a blog? What will it involve? How much time will it take? What should I say? Why do I need one when I’ve got a website? Will it open my organisation up to unwanted criticism? Will it really benefit my business? Have I got anything to say that the whole world wants to hear?
In this article I wanted to share my own reasons for starting a blog and offer up advice from seasoned experts in an attempt to dispel some of the misconceptions around blogging. Hopefully, this will motivate other consultants and professional businesses to take the leap.
No mystery – it’s just a communication tool
There is a mystery around blogging. Depending on who you talk to, a blog is either a self indulgent personal diary, a forum for the disaffected or the future of communication (blog or die!). No wonder many people are confused and a bit scared.
But, going back to basics, a blog or weblog is just a website with a twist. Blogs are different from conventional websites for a number of reasons:
- It’s a matter of style. Traditional websites give information in a more formal sense whilst blogs publish personal opinion, normally in a conversational style.
- Websites are about one-way information, blogs are a two-way conversation. They are interactive, connected and seek feedback from readers.
- Blogs are easier to create than standard web sites. Created using instant publishing software they allow you to become an author quickly without much techie expertise.
- Blogs are frequently updated, so almost always get higher rankings in search engine results than static sites.
A blog is a best seen as a personal publishing platform. It can contain important posts or innocuous personal ramblings of little interest to anyone but the writer; the platform doesn’t differentiate. It can be whatever you want it to be. It’s just another communication tool, a quick and easy way to get your ideas out there, and you can use it as you want.
And an immensely valuable tool at that
Blogs do have many different uses. Here are just a few examples I’ve come across:
- I want to communicate what’s going on in my company/school/organisation.
- I want to get my message out to a worldwide audience.
- I want to get press coverage without going down the traditional PR route.
- I want to educate my clients.
- I want to test my ideas and get feedback, to help me develop my proposition.
- I want to publish my opinions and stimulate discussion.
- I want to talk with my customers.
- I want to promote my ideas and sell my books.
- I want to market my services in a way that doesn’t alienate customers.
- I want to put a human face to my organisation.
A blog can do all these things for your business. How do you (or will you) use yours?
My blogging rationale
For me, my blog is the place where I write, store and show articles I’ve written. I have a website, but I wanted a place where I could post my ideas, show what I know, generate some interest and maybe get some feedback too.
I may or may not build a community of people who are so interested in what I’ve got to say they sign up for email updates and spread my ideas around the world. If that happens, I’d be delighted. But at the moment I am happy that I can quickly and easily publish my opinions, and send these on to my clients and contacts when relevant.
As to what I write, I take my lead from projects I’m working on or clients that I want to get an idea across to. I’ll write articles with a particular client in mind, relevant to a challenge they are facing (you’ll know who you are!), and I’ll take responsibility for sending these articles to them and others I think might be interested.
Already this approach has paid dividends. The Drupal article has just landed me one new project, and it’s only been up a week. I sent a link to one of my existing contacts who then understood how I could help him with his web project. That’s the quickest sales cycle I’ve experienced in a while.
So why not take the plunge? Log on to Blogger or WordPress or Typepad, design your layout and start writing a blog. You can use it as you like and it’s a powerful tool. This blog is absolute proof that it’s easier than you may think.
If you want to find out more before you leap, The Corporate Blogging Book by Debbie Weil is a great place to start. As she says:
“This is not about being cool. This is about where everyone is going – online. This is where your customers will be soon, if they’re not already.”
What do you think?
I’d love to know about your reasons for blogging or not blogging (yet). Do please send me your feedback.