Our blog is a bit stale, and we know just how much better we can do. So we're turning ourselves into our own client to improve our blog.
You may have heard that your blog is important for engaging customers, potential customers, and other site visitors. You’ve probably also heard it’s great for giving Google lots of fresh content to crawl. Both of these things are true, but it takes more than just having a blog. It even takes more than periodic posts. To really create and engage an active blog following, it requires a healthy mix of steady commitment, writing with authority, plenty of personality, a good deal of patience, and some plain old hard work.
And not many people get this mix right. Including us, at Infomedia.
We’ve spent some introspective time here at Infomedia, looking inward, to make sure we are practicing what we preach. And we’re not all that proud of everything we see. We’re a classic case of the age old excuse, “I’m too busy working to do this.”
We’ve spent so much time helping our customers integrate their brands with their websites and other digital properties, that we didn’t leave time to invest back in ourselves.
Our blog is a bit stale. Sure, we post every now and then. But we’re not carrying a consistent voice, and we’re not particularly blogging with purpose. As we looked at our own efforts, we quickly realized just how much better we can do. So we decided to start by being our own client. And I’ll share with you what we’ve found.
We forgot who we’re talking to
We’ve never spent enough time defining our blog audience. Typically, like most bloggers, we end up talking to ourselves. We’re a company full of creatives, programmers, and marketers, but not many of our clients are these things. So what’s the point in “writing to ourselves?” While this tactic may work for some industries, it’s probably not doing us that much good.
So, we created some personality profiles for our potential audience:
- The business owner: Most of our clients are small business owners. They hire us to be the experts, and want the bullet points from what we do so they can stay in the loop.
- The marketer: Marketers usually manage the website, in addition to a variety of other non-digital activities. They’re typically highly engaged and interested in the nitty-gritty strategy stuff.
- The webmaster: Some of our clients are full time managers of website activity. They’re typically interested in a mix of technical and strategy based content. They’re highly engaged and usually quite knowledgeable about the web.
- Potential employees: If someone is looking for a job, they’ll probably check out everything they can about the company they’re considering working for. The blog is a great way to get an idea of what a company is about, and for us it’s even more so as an interactive agency. I know I read every post going months back when I was considering working for Infomedia.
By defining our audience, we are now able to cater new content to meet the areas of knowledge one or more audience groups desire to learn about. These are called blog personas, and we can always have them in mind when we write in our blog.
If you haven’t thought about who your potential readers are, I highly encourage you do so.
We’re not consistent
In the past couple of years, we have gone through spurts where we post many times a week, to a huge lull where we may not post for months.
Just like with exercise, blogging gets the best results when done consistently.
Blogging is great, any time. But it’s far better when there’s a pattern. And that pattern needs to be based on achievability. I’d love to work out seven days a week (well, in theory), but realistically I can make time to work out around three days a week.
But even if I can only work out once a week, it’s better to do that for a year than it is to work out five times a week for two months out of the year and not at all for ten months.
So, we’ve had to define some achievable goals here, and for us, that’s around once per week. For you, it may vary based on your industry, competition in search, and other factors.
And remember, like with exercise, the more consistent blogging the better, and something is always better than nothing.
We’ve been a bad date
Personality is key in successful blogging. You want to be able to define your blog’s voice (yes, your blog has a voice) with a strong word: authoritative, spunky, lively, funny, informative, etc.
If you don’t have a pre-defined corporate strategy, then identify what voice you naturally use when you write, and embrace it. Different people have a different writing style, and it’s likely going to be representative of your company culture or your own personality. And if your readers know you already, they’ll hear your voice through your writing. If they don’t know you, then you want them to think they do after reading your post.
At Infomedia, we fell into the same trap many company blogs do. We were trying to sell too hard in our writing. Or we were trying to be too informative or professional, and we lost our voice in the meantime. We weren’t very interesting because we were talking about what we offer, and we weren’t engaging who we were speaking to — you!
Just like on a date, asking questions is a great way to have success. Invite your reader to share back with you. And also be warm enough so that your readers are ready to talk. This means that you should do your best to keep the post, or conversation, casual. Also, you’ll want easy ways to stay in touch by newsletter, contact forms, blog comments, email addresses, facebook and twitter accounts, or even by phone.
We need to sell softly
So, our goal is to write like we speak, and to sell softly. Meaning, we don’t want to hard sell in our writing. We want to show why we are valuable in our writing, and then offer easy ways, like those mentioned above, for people to get in touch, so we can properly pitch our services in a setting where that’s what our customers are looking for.
Grilling marinade is a good example for an opportunity to sell softly. If you’re selling grilling marinade, you don’t have to talk about how good your marinade is, you want to share great recipes and show pictures of delicious food that use your marinade. When someone looks at a steak with your marinade in your blog post, you’re hard selling the steak and soft selling your marinade.
We need to execute
It’s all fine and good to talk about how we can improve, but the proof is in the pudding. A strategy is just that — a plan. Now that we have a strategy, it’s time to execute. So that starts now, with this admission that we have failed to practice what we preach.
And we’re changing it.
So, be on the lookout, because we’re committing to this space and to eating our own dogfood.
After all, how can we ask you, our valued customers, to do things we haven’t been historically committed to ourselves?
Did you read this far into this post, nodding your head the whole time? If so, perhaps you can follow along with us in this adventure! Join us in our quest to whip our blog into shape, and start blogging with your own voice, on your site, right now.
I hope that you can use the outline above to define your strategy, and six months from now, we’ll both be able to report back with stories of our successes.