11 Aug

Blogging: worth a punt

I blog. I blog a lot – across three different blogs; this one, a ranting one, and *ahem* my cat writes one (hey, there’s a big audience for that). I write anywhere between 12 – 15 posts per week (not including posts written for clients).

My ranting blog is just there as an outlet for me, either creatively or when I’m genuinely annoyed by something. It’s written to be pithy and vaguely amusing.
I put it out there to try to get attention for my writing, get the odd post shared, and to make one or two people smile.

My cat’s blog – according to him – is just written to show another style/tone, for a bit of fun, and as a creative exercise.

This blog serves to put ideas out there about writing, communication in general, marketing and advertising, and creativity (whether in advertising or in the wider world). I write posts on here to offer opinion, give tips, and show that I ‘know my stuff’.

None of these blogs – including this one – are written with the express purpose of generating income, or directly generating sales.
If you are writing blog posts just for that, you’re writing them for the wrong reasons and you’re going to get frustrated very quickly. Blogging is just about the slowest way of generating revenue out there.

So why bother? (particularly given that blogging is so time consuming)

As a lot of my friends put to me; ‘why do you spend so much of your week writing stuff that doesn’t immediately bring in money?’

Well, here – in part – is why…

This week, my friend and app supremo, Richard Eaton, got asked to contribute to the Huffington Post on a regular basis. They picked up on one of his posts about ‘going completely offline for a week’.
This is huge for both Richard and his company, Appware: the Huffington Post is highly regarded and has a massive following, worldwide. To be asked to blog for them is a huge honour and a sign of recognition.
Not only that, but this now gives Richard, Appware, and any other venture of his, worldwide exposure and marks him out as an authority figure on apps, and technology in general. His name will appear more frequently in searches related to his industry, people he’d struggle to meet will suddenly know who he is, and he’ll undoubtedly get enquiries/leads from customers around the globe.
… yet he didn’t set out to ‘sell, sell, sell’ with his blog in the first place, and that – in a way – is the point.

In fact, what’s happened to Richard proves a number of points I’d like to make (in no particular order) about blogging:

1. If you want to write and get picked up for it/scouted, you need to do it regularly. It’s a skill. You get better at it by committing to writing something every day/a few times per week.

2. If you’re a decent sort, you’ll have a ready-made audience who’ll read and share your stuff a) because they like you b) because it’s good … furthering your reach.
If you’re a good writer but an a*sehole, who’s going to share your stuff?

3. You cannot just do this overnight. Knowing English and being able to type a bit is not enough – you need to have good subject knowledge, interesting things to say, a decent writing style, and to keep at it. You cannot give up after just a few weeks. You may need to write every day for five years, if that’s what it takes.

4. You need to write about a wide range of things to keep your audience’s interest. Richard writes about apps, gadgets, work/life balance, personal experiences – it makes people want to come back and read what he writes.
As, soon as they read the same cr*p every day, they’ve got nothing to come back for.

5. You need to have some subject knowledge, to write with authority – either about your own industry and products, or – with research – a different industry/topic. If you write without subject knowledge, what’s there sounds flimsy, wishy-washy, and generic. People like to hear from others who ‘know their sh*t’.

6. Blogging is not about selling stuff to people, despite what various ‘business gurus’ and ‘sales coaches’ may tell you. If that’s what someone thinks it’s about, I’d advise them to stop. We (particularly in Britain) don’t like being sold to. We get saturated by advertising and marketing all day, every day (on our train journeys, on the radio, via email, on TV, via call/text).
When we read a good blog post, we do so on our ‘down time’ – the last thing we want is to be sold to. I click straight off a blog post that does that.
Richard has mastered the art of engaging with an audience, giving them useful information, showing that he knows his stuff… but never selling to them.

7. Write in a way that resonates with people. For the same reason we often like observational comedy, we like reading content that chimes with our own experiences of everyday life – that shows the writer ‘gets’ us or a situation we’ve all been through.
Writing about things like productivity, work/life balance, experiences of customer service etc resonates with your audience; ‘I’ve been through that…. I know what he means’ etc.

8. Enjoy it first, write it for fame as a secondary thing. You can just tell when someone has written something as a chore/they feel like they have to write content, and when they actually enjoy writing – it simply comes through in what they write, and the way in which they write. This makes it a more interesting read for their audience. Richard (and many others whose posts I’ve read) clearly enjoys writing, offloading ideas and thoughts, being helpful. It comes across, so people enjoy reading what he writes.

9. Blogging isn’t a ‘waste of time’ (to repeat an earlier point). It doesn’t bring in immediate funds/sales, but look what’s just happened: by blogging for the enjoyment of blogging, and passing useful info – gratis – to readers, Richard got picked up by ‘the big boys’.
Again, this now exposes him to a much wider audience, marks him out as a tech authority figure, and is good for both AppWare and any other venture to which his name is attached – his name is the one that’s now out there.

So, pay attention to this story and consider why blogging might not quite be the ‘waste of time’ it’s often made out to be.

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