Charlie Brown's TeacherI posted an entry last week about making your blog the “hub” of your online marketing efforts – and it really seemed to strike a chord with many of my blog and eNewsletter subscribers. But the resounding question remains, “What am I supposed to blog about?”

Remember the sound of Charlie Brown’s teacher in the Peanuts cartoon specials? Yeah. You don’t want to be her.

In order to engage an audience on an ongoing basis (“ongoing” being the operative word!), a blog needs to be more than just you on a soap box. To use a Fall analogy, let’s think of it as less of a campaign speech and more of a town hall meeting. 😉

So what makes a good blog?

Well, to start with, it pays to have a list of blog post ideas

I like to use a simple Excel spreadsheet to create mine, with column headings of TOPIC, BULLET POINTS, KEYWORDS. When creating this list, don’t censor yourself! Just fill out that first column, TOPIC, with as many quick ideas as possible – rapid-fire, just throw the ideas out there as they come to you. If you’re a photographer, for instance, the first few you might come up with are Composition, Exposure, Lighting, Action Photography, Portraiture, Macrophotography. Next to each, in the BULLET POINTS column you would list, say, the Top 5 points you’d want to make about that topic in a blog post. In Column 3, KEYWORDS, you’d list the keywords that people searching on the web for information on your topic might type into their search engine (then be sure to sprinkle those words throughout your blog post in the title, headings, and body copy so the search engines find your work – this is a simple form of search engine optimization, or SEO).

Make your blog posts timely and topical

What are the “hot topics” in your field of expertise that your audience wants to know more about? Be sure to do a more “in-depth” examination of – or give your “take” on – each topic because if you’re just rehashing what’s been reported in the media or trade journals, you’re not adding to the conversation or establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

Add a touch of personality to your blog

Don’t be afraid to show a little of the “real you” to your audience. In the online world, it’s immeasurably important that the reader get a sense that there’s a real person behind the words on the screen. I learned this and took it to heart before I sent out my first eNewsletter in March 2003. My email marketing mentor made a point of it – and walked the talk! I felt (and continue to feel) that if I ran into her at an airport or conference I’d be comfortable talking to her right away. Not only do I know – in detail! – how she got started, how she built her tiny business into a multi-million-dollar enterprise, and how she continues to learn and grow, I also know about her (now deceased) cat, her family, and her love life (not all the intimate details, of course – just that she is a real person who has loved and lost and loved again – very endearing and, again, real). I’ve consciously decided to share my journey in this blog, including small things like a book recommendation and huge things like the life-changing fulfillment of a 20-year dream of moving from congested New Jersey to an idyllic Maine island.

Don’t be stingy with photos and graphics

People love visuals – and so do search engines! One or two per blog post, however, is plenty. Don’t overdo it and risk your pages taking so long to load that no one waits around to actually read what you wrote.

Ask questions

What better way to engage your audience than to ask what they think about the topic, what they think about your thoughts on the topic, what their own experience has been, and what additional information they may want to hear from you.

Embed links in your blog posts

Once you’ve got them to your blog, why not entice them to learn more about you with a link to your website, a past blog post on a similar topic, or even an article elsewhere for more information? Be sure the links open in a new page, so when they “X” out of that page, they automatically return to your blog. You don’t want to lose them and risk them not finding their way back to you!

Embed videos in your blog posts

Whether within a post or as the entire post in and of itself, videos are HOT! (YouTube reached 1 billion views per day two years ago … they may have stopped counting!) But since just 30 percent of uploaded videos account for 99 percent of YouTube views, you need to do more than just post your videos on YouTube – you need to embed them into your blog, too! (I recommend embedding them into your eNewsletter and website, as well.)

Now, that’ll take your blogging from “blah” to “WOW!”, won’t it? 😉


Your Can of Corn
Make a Difference Monday, Week 41: Life is Not a Stress Rehearsal