5 Rules Every Entrepreneur Should Know Before Blogging
Your company just started blogging and everybody is excited. You have been promoted to CBE (chief blogging expert) because you accidentally told the HR manager you had a facebook account. Immediately you are forced to create a series of blogs, and you pour your heart and soul into them (because you are forced to), spending sleepless nights editing, researching and writing. You know your content is interesting and vital to your customers and employees. You upload your first blog series, waiting for a rush of feedback and comments … minutes pass, hours pass, days pass, months pass … but nothing happens. It is as if your blog never existed.…
Blogging is now more than ever a critical and important way to connect businesses with their customers. And everybody is doing it— from celebrities to CEOs of multinational companies. Unfortunately, too many people are doing it the wrong way and the result are series of poorly executed blogs with little human interaction. In this article, I will discuss five key rules you need to follow to ensure your blog connects and resonates with your readers or customers. If you follow at least one of the rules today, I guarantee that you will see a difference in your blogs visibility.
Rule #1: Be Consistently Consistent with your Blogging Consistency
This is an absolute! Before you begin blogging you have to define your blogging frequency and stick to it! The consistency of your blog is what defines the legitimacy of your blog. If you are inconsistent, people will lose interest; but if you are consistent, people will be primed to expect your blog at certain intervals. A key rule of thumb is to update your blog at least once a month for long articles (1500+ words), or at least bi-weekly for short articles (500 to 1000 words). My blog http://ofilispeaks.com has a frequency of a month. In other words, I have personally made a commitment to write at least a 1000+ word blog post every single month. And for five years I have stuck to that routine. If I am ever late, I get a slew of emails/inquiries from my subscribers asking why my blog is delayed, because they expect it on a certain day. Reminds me of what I think is one of the funniest scenes on the American TV show “The Office,” where Mike (the boss) is doing a conflict resolution between co-workers Jim and Dwight. I would write out the dialogue for you, but it’s best if you watch it (see video below)
In the scene, Mike is running through a list of complaints filed by Dwight against Jim. The knock-out funniest complaint is when Dwight says
“this morning Jim made me knock myself in the head with my phone.”
The first thing that came to my head was
“how can someone possibly knock themselves in the head with their own phone!”
Turns out that over a period of several days Jim had intermittently put nickels in Dwight’s handset to make it much heavier than usual. And just as Dwight had become accustomed to the phone’s new weight…Jim suddenly pulled out all the nickels. Thus when the phone rang, Dwight anticipating a heavy phone pulled the phone with so much force that he hit himself in the head!
Hilarious…but this same prank principle applies to blogging … you want to be so consistent that when you omit a blog entry people will literarily hit their heads in confusion and proceed to bombard you with angry phone calls and text messages. Be consistently consistent with your consistency.
O’s BONUS TIP: This bonus tip is primarily for small businesses and has to do with naming consistency. You should strive to have the same name everywhere. I cannot tell you the number of people I meet who have a different name on facebook, another name on twitter and yet another name on blackberry! Stick to the same name and also the same username. On everything I do I am OKECHUKWU OFILI and on all my social media I am OFILISPEAKS … ofilispeaks.com, facebook.com/ofilispeaks andtwitter.com/ofilispeaks … be consistent so people can find you easily!
Rule #2: The Most Important Part of Your Blog is the Title
This point is extremely important (trust me). Contrary to popular belief, the most important part of your blog is not the blog itself, but the title. Your title ensures that people actually have a reason to click on your article. An average of <insert insanely large figure> blogs are uploaded every hour to the internet and since people are lazy, busy or somewhere in between….your blog has to be exceptional to stand out. And that power of exceptionalism comes from a great blog TITLE! You want to make your title shocking, different and unexpected! A title that reads “How to write a book” is poor compared to “5 guaranteed ways to write a book without writing.” The latter has the 3 key characteristics of great blog titles:
- Number: Studies show that when you share the number of points of your article (5 ways to….7 Inexcusable…) in a title, people are more likely to read it. The number simplifies your article for the readers by dividing it into bite size pieces that is easy to digest. Thus the reader anticipates a quick easy read and is more likely to open up the blog.
- Key Words: Studies have shown that when you place these five words in a title: YOU, NEW, GUARANTEED, SEX and FREE…you instantaneously increase the appeal of your blog. That is why many newspaper articles and adverts contain combinations and variations of these words. By studying them and with consistent practice you will be able to create strong titles.
- Sparks Curiosity: The title “5 guaranteed ways to write a book without writing” is interesting because it tells you that you can write a book without actually writing. Instinctively you want to know how and why this is possible…thus your human reflex is to open the article. This characteristic is subtle and difficult to learn, but like the above if you put in enough time you will be able to conjure up titles that sparks intense curiosity!
Other characteristics include “asking a question” and “ensuring you titles are not too long.” There are many more characteristics and tips to writing great blog titles that cannot be covered in this article. However, a great resource/guide to writing catchy blog titles is the book MADE TO STICK and the website COPY BLOGGER. I have used COPYBLOGGER in particular to create great blog titles like THE 7 INEXCUSABLE MISTAKES OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP and 6 SIMPLE WAYS TO DELIVER KNOCK OUT PRESENTATIONS. On average I will rifle through 3 to 5 titles before I settle on something, but I find that it is worth the effort as the response to great titles is much greater than the response to great blogs.
Unfortunately, a lot of bloggers spend too much time on content and slap on a title just several seconds before they hit the upload button. Focus on your title and your next blog will surprise you!
Below are all the titles I considered before settling on something 5 RULES EVERY ENTREPRENEUR SHOULD KNOW BEFORE BLOGGING:
- 5 guaranteed ways to get people to read you blog
- 5 Ways To Get Lazy People To Read Your Blogs
- The 5 Immutable Laws Of Blogging
- The 5 Unforgivable Sins Of Blogging
- 5 Things You Must Do Before You Write Your Next Blog
Win A Free Copy of MADE TO STICK and HOW STUPIITY SAVED MY LIFE. All you have to do is re-write the TITLE of one of your blogs or any of the blogs on this site using the principles above, and the best title that shows the most improvement will WIN. Submit your response in the comment box below.
Rule #3: Market Your Blog
“If you build it, they will come” has to be one of the greatest lies on earth. It is a phrase that perpetuates the notion that all you have to do is build a business, sit back and the customers will come. However, if you own a business of any sort, you will know that this is completely untrue. Unfortunately this notion finds its way into the minds of bloggers just like it did with me. I believed that all I had to do was come up with a great blog and BOOM! I was done. But that is far from the truth; what you do after you write your blog is equally as important as the actual blog itself and that is MARKETING. You have to find a way to give your blog content visibility on the web or within your company…remember point #2 people are lazy, busy or somewhere in between. For small businesses, you want to start with close friends and co-workers. Let them know you have written something, either through email, facebook or twitter. This is how great bloggers such as Chris Guillbeau started out … he sent his blogs to a few of his friends each time and what started with 30 or so emails evolved into thousands of emails. Now his blog site is viewed by millions all across the world, because of consistent marketing.
For me personally, when I write an article, I send it out via the constantcontact email program to a list of over 4500 people (it took me 5 years to build this) Then I send it out to about 20 to 40 people on twitter that I have relationships with (see point #4) to help me promote. And finally I post it on facebook and tag 50 people. It is a marketing process that takes anywhere from 2 to 3 hours to complete…but the rewards are fulfilling as my blogs get high viewership, numerous re-tweets and comments from over 20 countries.
For companies with already established listservs and even for upcoming businesses, you can utilize contests as a marketing strategy for your blogs. One of my most successful campaigns has been my CAPTION contest for my sketches. One of them is this starbucks caption contest which pulled in over 35 comments and created publicity for the blog site. There are numerous marketing strategies out there that you can utilize. But whatever you do, remember, your blog cannot market itself; only you can.
O’s BONUS TIP: When you market your blog links on facebook or twitter, ensure that you put http:// in front of them. This ensures automatic URL creation, which means that people just have to click your link versus copying and pasting into a web browser. An example is http://ofilispeaks.com versus www.ofilispeaks.com. Also, if your blog links are long, utilize url shorteners such as bit.ly or is.gd to shorten them. To make them look professional you can use the customization feature that comes with bit.ly program. This allows you to write bit.ly/ofilispeaks versus http://on.fb.me/gkc74O
Rule #4: Build Relationships
I cannot emphasize enough how important this point is … you simply have to work on building relationships with your readers. You do this by trying your very best to respond to every single comment and email you receive. And when you respond, respond honestly and not in a stop-wasting-my-time fashion. Chris Guillbeau, who I mentioned earlier, receives over 100 emails every day and he responds to every single one of them to the best of his ability. Another person whom I admire is Lydia Cotton on facebook, who has over 18,000 followers. Despite her huge followership, she is able to find time to engage actively with her fans. Both Chris and Lydia do the above, because they understand the importance of building relationships.
Too many times I have met bloggers who feel like quasi-celebrities because they have a big subscription base and thus can care less about what people say on their blogs. This is most prevalent amongst CEOs of large companies who spit out blogs but never respond to any of the comments and thus miss out on a huge opportunity to engage their employees and customers.
As a blogger, you have to make a commitment not to just respond to comments but to build relationships. In point #2 above, I talked about 20 to 40 people that help me re-tweet my blog posts on twitter … some of them I have never met before, but they help me out. Now, I could sit back and take what they do for granted … but because I understand the principle of relationship building, I engage them by thanking them personally on twitter, by sending them postcards, or free copies of my book, or by responding to questions—whatever I can do to appreciate them. And if I see them in person I personally thank them! These are the little things that separate ordinary bloggers from extraordinary bloggers.
O’s BONUS TIP: For users of wordpress.org, utilize comment plug-ins such as Intense Debate and Disqus. These programs ensure that readers comments are sent directly to your inbox and vice-versa, thus helping stimulate debate and conversation on your blogs.
Rule #5: Build a Powerful Blog Network
I truly know how it feels to spend time writing a blog and then it receives no comments. Earlier on, I would lament that no one ever read my blogs or commented on them, but then I realized that I did the exact same thing! Talk about hypocritical! So I made it a point to read other peoples’ blogs, commenting on them, and sharing them with others, without expecting anything in return. And the result has been rewarding, as I have gotten to meet and interact with a great many bloggers across the net. But it does not stop at just sharing blogs; you also have to be willing to lend a hand to upcoming bloggers if you have the knowledge and experience. By helping people out, you will be able to learn a few things yourself and establish yourself as a prime blogger. If other bloggers respect you and reference you for knowledge, your blog will grow.
One technique that is particularly useful in growing your blog is guest blogging on other people’s sites and also inviting other people to guest blog on yours. There are several top name sites such as maxblogger.com and dailyblogtips that accept guest blogs. Because their subscription base is large (10,000 to 120,000) your blog will get instant visibility. But you have to ensure you follow their criteria for blog submission. Also, do not limit yourself to the big name blogs out there. If you know any up and coming blog (hint, hint) and you have a well written blog post that would fit within the blog’s general concept, submit it for consideration. Do not be afraid of rejection, because it is bound to happen. Instead focus on putting together good material and over time you will find people that are willing to allow you to share your blogs on their sites. On the flip side, you should be willing to offer up your site to help out others; this symbiotic relationship amongst bloggers helps ensure blog growth.
One of the people who understand the relationship building concept and executes it to perfection is Crystal Washington of crystalwashington.com. She is continually blogging about and reposting great articles from other bloggers. By sharing, she helps out others, and in return other bloggers go out of their way to talk about her. Build your blog network today.
O’s BONUS TIP: Seek to create a blog team of about 3 to 5 people and make a commitment amongst yourselves to promote each other’s blogs. By so doing you are leveraging each other to ensure success for your blogs.
You might notice that this article does not talk about how to write a perfect blog post, but rather focuses on writing a perfect blog series. One post can create an ephemeral connection, but a series of well written, consistent blog posts is sure to create a permanent connection with your customers! Focus on your blog series and you will be successful.
As usual, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them down below. Bloggers like myself live off your comments.
Ofili is an award winning motivational speaker, author, life coach and entrepreneur who blogs about life, success and entrepreneurial excellence. Follow him on twitter , facebook or subscribe to his blog for more success TIPS!”