Why do you blog?
March 20, 2014 Leave a comment
A couple a days ago I was having a conversation with a friend at work about a blog she’s putting together.
As I thought about that conversation, I think the fundamental question you should ask yourself before you even start blogging is why do you want to blog in the first place.
That base reason is what will drive a lot of things in how you actually go about blogging.
If you have been hired to be a blogger and are getting paid to do it as part of your job or specifically as your job, then this might be the conversation you should have with your employer.
Your decision why you want to blog should lead you to decisions regarding frequency of blogging, material you will blog about, and details about the blog itself.
I believe the best stories and messages (and thus blogs) provide a deep level of transparency into the writer. Being honest with your message is a key to a good blog. To that end, let me share why I blog as an example.
Currently I have a full time job and on the side I have my own consulting company with myself as the only employee. I started the company, Crosscutter Enterprises, in 2008 when I retired from the Air Force. I have done several pro bono and a few paid consulting assignments through this company over the past five plus years. Right now I’m ramping up a project with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, here in San Antonio.
I also am an aspiring author. I have my first book out, published in 2012, called One Dead Marine. It is a post-apocalyptic science fiction/fantasy about a US Marine who wakes up in the future where monsters, magic, and technology crash together in a post-apocalyptic US. I am also working on publishing my second book–a nonfiction, business book, called Overcoming Organizational Myopia. It is about breaking down stovepiped organizations.
At 48 years old, I still have several years to be eligible for retirement with my current company. However, my plan is to continue to work as a consultant, writer, and speaker after “formal” retirement (this will be my second retirement since I’m already retired Air Force).
Knowing more about these thing gets to why I blog…
I have three reasons why I blog.
1. Blogging regularly helps me think through writing concepts and hones my writing skills. The more I write, hopefully, the better I will get at it.
2. Encouraging and gaining followers creates an audience base for when I release future books, which I expect to publish. Obviously if people are interested in what I write about, they might also be interested in buying my books when they come out.
3. Blogging provides topics and material for future books that, with some adjustment, could end up as new books. For example, I have found several people are interested when I write about blogging itself. Perhaps writing a book on blogging might be a good idea.
Understanding why I wanted to blog led me to some blogging decisions.
1. If I really wanted people interested in what I’m writing and to follow me, I needed to blog often. The rule of thumb is to post one blog a day. More then one a day becomes overload and less than one a day loses interest. That doesn’t mean people read your blog every day, but every day they have something to read.
2. My blogs need to be informative and helpful. Going off on political rants every day might attract interested people, but really isn’t demonstrating my understanding of publishable topics like strategic planning, process improvement, employee engagement, blogging, etc. I’ll leave the political discussions to Facebook.
3. In order to blog daily and gain the interest of a broad audience, I needed a broad topic list. Not too broad to lose the interest of readers…in other words, today I’m talking about blogging, tomorrow it’s fashion, and Saturday it’s global warming. No, I needed to focus on specific things that I think my readers would be interested in.
4. This is important. I’m not selling anything. I am not monetizing my portal and posting a bunch of ads. At the bottom of every blog, I’m not posting links to my business page encouraging you to hire me. Basically, my blogs are not veiled marketing messages and sales pitches. There is a guy named Steve Harrison that promotes “free” speaking and speech advice and webinars. Every day, I get a “blog-like” post from him that is 5% content and 95% marketing. His webinars are essentially the same. You will not get that from me.
5. I’m giving away the secret sauce. I’m not going to share part of the way I recommend or actually do things, especially in my weekend strategic planning and leadership blogs. I am going to provide the full advice and you don’t have to hire me to get the rest of the story. If you think I know what I’m doing and want my assistance, the reader knows how to get a hold of me.
6. I will have some structured messages. On Saturday, I have a blog dedicated to strategic planning called Think Big, Take Small Steps. I started it a while back, but never followed through on the writing. This year I delved into it with earnest. On Sunday, I now have a regular article on leadership and management. Both of these messages, once created and posted, I share to specific groups on LinkedIn.
Can you see how knowing why I blog, led to how I blog. This is much like Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why.
If you just want to write about things for the fun of it, then the frequency doesn’t matter and neither does the topics. If people follow you, so what, so encouraging any followers is pointless. You can definitely ramble on with your blogs and things like spelling, grammar, and sentence structure really aren’t important.
If you are looking to make money off your blogging activity, well, you need to monetize the platform. You need to sell in your blogs and your blog page needs to direct people to things you are selling. You better be really good at writing and have a solid message that people will want to read. If you blog for a company, chances are, you are blogging for this reason.
If you are like me and you blog to build credibility for future opportunity. Then your focus will be entirely different.
So, if you are blogging today or you are thinking about blogging, ask yourself why do you want to blog. This will lead you to determine how you want to blog and honestly, what you want to blog about.
Good luck blogging.