All joking aside, using a smart keyword strategy (hint: there’s research involved) and the right social media channels (for your business), you can refocus your marketing dollars into a content marketing strategy that’s both sustainable and cost-effective. Combine keywords with a strong on-site blogging platform and social media engagement and you’ve got the winning formula. Simple, right? Wrong. It’s simple but not easy.
Understanding how to use content marketing is a lot like reading the catechism. Begin with the basics and then it’s practice, practice, practice. And the more you practice and memorize the “rules” the more you’ll understand some rules are made to broken – and others will land you in (Google) hell.
I’ve been blogging since 2007. I’ve written more than 2,000 posts and contributed to national newspapers and magazines like the Boston Globe and Women’s Health. But I still look at what I do as a work in progress – we’re all still learning how to do this better. Feel free to steal my cheat sheet and use it to get to those pearly gates with a few less sins on your blogging dossier.
As a blogger, you are first and foremost a story-teller. Information isn’t merely doled out; it’s artfully told. The heart of giving good blog is how the information is presented. The details of the stories are where we find the magic. Blog with intention.
Tell The Truth
Facts and truth are not the same thing. Information can’t be made up, nor can the essential facts of a product or service. Using fictional scenarios and made-up quotes is against the rules and more than a little smarmy. Tell the truth, according to you. If you lie or stretch the truth, you’ll likely be called out for it and the road to redemption is all uphill from that point.
Respect The Contract
There’s an implicit contract between you (the blogger) and me (your reader). For my time as a reader, I understand and believe that your blog is going to give me something of value. Link to other relevant articles or purchasing information. Make your post the lighthouse that shines light on the information sources I need if I’d like to learn more.
A blog post is personal, not because it’s about yourself, but because it allows us inside your blogger head. We see your thought process. Unlike a responsible journalist or technical writer, you don’t remove yourself from the story. You’re a participant in it. You, the writer, are always there, indicating for us what you think about the subject at hand.
Give To Get
Your blog should vibrant and alive and full of opinions and engagement. People who write great blogs understand the value of sharing and of feedback. A blog is opinion-based and the true power of it lies in the comments that follow – and your response to them. FYI, if criticism scares you, developing a thick skin and a sense of humor should be your top priority before launching your blog.
Engage Your Readers
Every single comment posted on your blog deserves a response. Every single one. Your readers took the time to share their feelings and you owe it to them to acknowledge that gift with a response. Not responding to a comment is like not answering your customer service line. Doesn’t exactly extend a warm and cozy feeling, does it?
Not everyone is going to agree with you or even understand you. Some people will be critical and mean about your writing. Some may even call you names. My advice? Be nice. Don’t reduce yourself to a flame war on your own blog. Thank the haters for taking the time to visit and share their thoughts and then move onto the next comment.
Share With Abundance
Just because you write it doesn’t mean they will come. Using social media will help the search engines find you faster and bring more people to your site. It’s called content marketing – using keywords to signal to the search engines that you’re doing something over here that’s worth taking a look at. The downside is that if you use the wrong keywords, you may the wrong kind of traffic – or traffic that doesn’t convert.
Elevate Other Bloggers
Blogs are a powerful force because they intertwine and work together. Writing a blog without ever reading a blog is impossible – the system is built on reciprocity. What’s more, developing a unique voice on your blog takes time and practice and other bloggers can help with their valuable feedback. If you never visit another blog but expect other bloggers to visit you…enough said.
Don’t Give Up
I can hear my mother saying, “If it’s worth doing, it not going to be easy.” Sadly, she’s right. This stuff isn’t easy and it can hurt when you publish your brilliant post and no one (other than your mom) visits. Don’t give up. You can do this. How can I be so sure? You’re reading my blog post aren’t you?
Cheat Sheet: Blogging Do’s and Don’ts
- Use the first person
- Use lots of detail
- Go as deep as you can
- Show instead of tell
- Keep it tight
- Make a point
- Tell the truth
- Overstate your point
- Be afraid to get your hands dirty
- Water it down
- Make things up
- Rely too heavily on cuteness
Julia Rosien is the founder and Chief Idea Officer of SocialNorth, a social media strategist firm as well as founder and owner of GoGirlfriend, a travel-based website for women. Julia serves on various boards of directors. She is currently the 2013 Chariman for Withit.org, a non-profit organization for women in the home and furnishings industries and Chief Marketing Officer of a startup tech network for women – Women Powering Technology.
Co-founder of Canada’s first 140 Conference and its master of ceremonies as well as a presenter at TEDxWomen Waterloo, Impact99, Tweetstock.ca, Women in Biz Conference to name just a few, Julia is much-requested speaker in a variety of industries. Not surprisingly, she’s been named one of the most influential women in social media and was a nominee for the Roger’s 2011 Women of the Year celebration. Connect with Julia on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
This post originally appeared on the Social North blog