I must say that if there's one thing that keeps my spirits and intellect high and sharp, respectively, it's blogging. Running your own business, as a mentor of mine predicted, is the most intellectual activity you'll ever attempt. But maintaining a blog well comes a close second to that...just what makes work a joy for me.
I've taken the occasion to think about 12 lessons I've learned in that dozen years of blogging, still and always my primary platform. These are lessons aimed at those of you, like me, who use a blog as a primary marketing platform for your services:
- 90 percent of blogging is showing up, consistently and frequently. I started with monthly posts and quickly found my rhythm at 2 to 3 posts per week. Today, I'm up to three blogs that post at least 6 times per week, all together. It makes a difference in followers, in search engine results, and in content.
- Blogging's the best exercise to develop your writing muscle. There is no writing task that puts me off now. It's the antidote to writer's block. If you are struggling to populate a blog with posts, know that the solution lies in posting more, not less. It does get easier.
- Put enough of yourself into your blog so that, when prospective clients call, they already know everything they need to know to hire you. You don't want them to hire just anybody. You want them to hire you. Make sure your blog doesn't read like just anybody's blog.
- Your readers will give you the best content and ideas, ever. If you let them. Encourage comments, read their tweets, ask audiences to find things for you, listen to their requests. Use their questions as post titles, a smart SEO-based strategy. It's all useful for content.
- Everything is copy. Reader comments, what you're reading, your own schedule, exchanges on Twitter, experiences in your work, what you see and hear, what you're listening to. I find content everywhere, and I use what happens on my other social channels in my content, so that the blog becomes my collector-of-record for my online presence...and readers know where to look to find everything.
- If you wouldn't read it--for any reason--don't publish it. Simple as that.
- This is how clients find you. I used to say that 50 percent of my new clients found me by finding and reading one of my blogs. Now it's more like 90 percent. I have a great mix of new and repeat clients, thanks to the information I'm sharing on the blogs, and they are what marketers like to call "highly qualified"--in other words, they know they want to hire me. Less selling on my part.
- It's more than just a blog, if you let it be so. My blogs are the first drafts of books, collections of curated reference material, *and* my primary marketing tools. How efficient can you get?
- Be ready for people to have read you closely and to quote you back to yourself. Ye gods, it's always a bit of a shock when someone says, "I know you think this" or "I know you prefer that," until I realize that they've done some deep diving and reading on the blog. And that's a good thing.
- Be a filter. I know when I read blogs, I'm looking for distinct points of view, and particularly, people who will filter and curate for me the facts, ideas, products, and trends that they notice, like, or dislike. I want them to tell me why, too. I want to hear their stories and perspectives and opinions. So I try to do the same. None of my blogs could belong to anyone else, and I like it that way.
- Figure out precisely what can--and can't--be delegated in blogging. While I invite the odd guest post here or there, most of my content is written by me. But with three blogs, choices need to be made about the other tasks. I use my virtual assistant corps at FancyHands to do research, transcribe short videos, find videos and copyright-free photos, track down texts and transcripts. Evernote keeps all my clippings and threads and ideas in one place so that I am ready to write when I'm ready to write. Don't forget that, once you build a following, your followers will start sharing content and ideas.
- Be where your readers are. My longtime social media strategy is to use my blogs as my online basecamp, and to use my other social channels to bring the blog where my readers are (see the links at the bottom of this post). But the blogs offer the most complete view, my publishing tools-of-record, as it were. I have some readers who follow me on all channels, and some who only see my work on Facebook, or on Twitter, but they all wind up here.
Don't get caught unprepared, speechless, or without a message, but do catch me on Twitter, on Google+, and on the don't get caught page on Facebook--all great places to add your comments to the discussion. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter, Speakers & Communicators, to make sure you don't miss a thing on my blogs and get the first news about new workshops and projects.