15 Rules for Business Bloggers

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Ian Lurie Nov 11 2008

Blogs are the new web sites. Marketers launch ‘em because they think they need ‘em. They don’t consider the time commitment required, goals or why their audience would want to hear from them.

Then the blog dangles off the corporate site like an appendix until it irritates someone in the organization, at which point it’s removed.

blog appendix

It’s a shame, because blogs can do a lot for your business:

  • Humanize it.
  • Let the you share your business philosophy.
  • Leak exciting news or ‘teasers’ about new products.
  • Allow you to solicit direct feedback.
  • Add search-engine-friendly content to your site.

So make the most of business blogging. Follow a few rules and you’ll have a business blog that actually helps you grow online:

  1. Take the B.S. test. Can you come up with three things to write that won’t include one shred of marketing B.S. about your organization? If so, move on to #2. If you can’t, give it up. No one wants to read a blog that does nothing but hawk your own products/services. It’s like going on a really bad date where your companion constantly talks about themselves.
    blog babble blather
  2. Write your passion. Write about what you care about. If you’re the head of marketing for a plumber, write about that time your toilet got plugged up. If you own a chicken farm, write about the beauty of eggs.
  3. Don’t worry about what ‘they’ want to read. ‘They’ are not your audience. Your audience will show up as you write to your passion, because they share it. And don’t tell me no one else cares. With 6 billion people on this polluted planet, you can probably find a few thousand interested in just about everything.
  4. Commit to writing. Plan to write 30 minutes a day. That may not produce one post a day. That’s fine. But by writing 30 minutes a day you refine your art, practice writing and pull together a consistent stream of useful content. Some posts may take 15 minutes to write. Others may take a week. It’s the steady work that matters.
  5. Look in the mirror. Say “But I don’t have anything to say 50 times. Each time you say it, slap yourself silly. Eventually, you’ll train yourself out of that ridiculous statement. You’ve got a career, a life, a business. You have things you care about. You definitely have something to say.
    karate 'but I don't have anything to say'
  6. Learn grammar. You’re representing your business. You’d better be able to write a complete sentence.
  7. Learn to spell. Actually, you don’t even have to learn to spell. Learn to use a spell checker. Learn not to mis-spell.
  8. Set up a Feedburner feed. Visit Feedburner.com and ‘burn’ your RSS feed. If you don’t know what that means, learn.
  9. Read other blogs. Learn to use Google Reader or a similar feed reader. Follow other blogs you like. They don’t all have to be related to yours. Learn the medium.
  10. Don’t advertise. If you’re blogging on your company site, don’t include ads. They won’t earn anything anyway, and they’ll drive away readers.
  11. Comment on other blogs. See an interesting post on a related blog? Join the discussion! Leave a comment. It’s the best way to introduce yourself. Bloggers don’t meet by accident – you need to get the conversation going.
    Pigeons: "They'll notice me any second"
  12. Link to between your blog posts. Link to other related posts on your blog, because that draws the reader further in, which translates to a more interested visitor.
  13. Link to other blogs. If you find a great post on another blog, link to it and explain why your readers should see it. That blog’s author will see the link and may someday reciprocate.
  14. Take responsibility. Learn the tools you’re using to blog. Learn to create a heading, a link, a list and a blockquote using your blog editor. Learn to work with images, too. These are not difficult things to do, or to learn. It’s your responsibility to know them so that you can produce the best-quality blog posts possible.
  15. Enjoy! If blogging becomes slogging, you need a break.

This post is part of a four-post series by myself, Marcelo Calbucci, Carolynn Duncan and Scot Herrick. Read their excellent pieces:
Finding Your Blogging Voice by Marcelo Calbucci
Setting up your Blog by Carolynn Duncan
Blogging for your Career by Scot Herrick

tags : conversation marketing

9 Comments

  1. Paul

    hi Ian,
    I like your style, I am just starting out, I picked up on your personality in your article which i guess is a learned art of blogging.
    Pictures, great tip, I have have just put myself at the start of each page which had great intentions but now may seem a bit arrogant.
    Any way I will bookmark your blog and link to you as I would love others to benefit from your great blog.
    Take care
    Paul

  2. Leila

    Thanks Ian, blog posts like these are really nice to read. No mumbo jumbo and straight to the point!
    Your point about slapping yourself in the face 50 times a day is a good one, there’s no such thing as can’t when it comes to blogging.
    Its also good that you stressed the point of humanizing the blog…although I’m seeing more of this taking place and less spam…but maybe my taste in blogs is just becoming more refined :)
    Hope you are enjoying SEMPDX

  3. Mark

    I’m not trying to advertise, but just post a tip about suggestion #6. I use these guys to check my grammar:
    http://www.gramlee.com
    They’re pretty good at what they do.

  4. Yea thanks Ian!.. I got some good tips for sure!
    Just wondering (if you don’t mind): what keeps you so motivated when all you get is what’s equivalent to 50 kit kats/month ? To me it seems that you’ve put a lot of work into this website/blog?
    Anyway, thanks for your hard work!
    /Julian

  5. Ian

    @Julian Writing this blog has certainly helped my company, and that’s a big motivator for me. But I’m also not doing internet marketing just as a job – I genuinely want to see the industry move forward, and try my best to contribute. That keeps me motivated.
    I also love to write, which doesn’t hurt…

  6. Your comments are spot on. Most people simply don’t understand how to engage their audience. BTW, your photos made me fall off my chair :D
    TomG. – The Blog Flipping Fool :)
    PS – Your blog has a preview post button, fantastic, I can’t tell you how many partial posts and typos I have out there!

  7. @Ian.
    Do you think it pays back to maintain a company blog. I mean for some big brand, they would get a good PR and image surely but they also have a big budget. But for someone say like a plumber, do you think it would be worth the effort to blog considering the time/resources/money spent and the ROI on that blog?

  8. Ian

    @Plumber I think there’s better opportunities for smaller companies than big ones, actually. As a smaller business you can establish a relationship with your territory. You can write about what you find day-to-day and maybe even a few ways to minimize plumber visits :)
    Just realize ROI is a tough thing to measure in any form of marketing. But do a little math: If you spend an hour a week writing, and get one new client every quarter because of your blog, will that pay off?

  9. Well, yes. I guess that would be good, especially if that becomes a returning customer.

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