Tips for Serious Blogs (Professional or Organizational)

Tomorrow at 11:30 AM MST I’ll be giving a short talk at a meeting of the Boulder Press Club. This will be held at the Broker Inn in Boulder, CO. (If you’d like to attend, see the end of this message.)

My topic is: What Writers Really Need to Know About Weblogs. Actually, I’d originally aimed it at journalists, until I learned that most of the BPC’s members are not journalists, but rather writers and editors of various persuasions. I will be recording this talk, and if the audio quality is good enough I’ll podcast it.

I’ll only have about 1/2 hour so I plan to give a very general overview. However, my talk will include the following list of tips for “serious” (professional, corporate, or organizational) weblogs – as opposed to personal or hobby blogs…

AMY’S TIPS FOR SERIOUS BLOGGERS

  1. Don’t be too serious. If your blog is stiff, boring, or inhuman few people will care to read it – let alone interact with you or your organization through your blog. Also, if you’re not mostly enjoying blogging, you’re not doing it right. This really does apply to even the most uptight organization.
  2. Think in terms of conversing, not just publishing. Blogs are a key form of conversational media. You can use them for simple publishing if you like, but you’ll miss a lot of opportunities if you take such a limited view.
  3. Define your target audience. Who are your trying to engage, and why? Thinking in terms of opinion leaders rather than markets tends tends to work better.
  4. Define your scope. Over time, your blog will be more engaging, effective, and coherent if you define the topics you’re covering. This can evolve over time.
  5. Avoid free hosted services like Blogger. Splog proliferation is giving all those free hosted blogging services a bad name.
  6. Plan ahead for consistently great content. If you have a simple, feasible content strategy, blogging will be easy and fun.
  7. Pick a domain name for your blog if you use a hosted blogging service. Or define a subdomain of your existing current domain (like blog.myco.com). That looks more professional than johndoe.typepad.com/mycoolblog. Don’t bury your blog within the structure of a complicated site. You want search engines to find that content easily and quickly.
  8. Be transparent. Don’t try to hide, disguise, or misrepresent your agenda, involvement, or identity, etc. The realm of weblogs is one place where subterfuge of any kind generally is not tolerated. Especially if you’re scared of criticism, the best policy is to be transparent.
  9. Don’t be boring. The precise tone of your blog is up to you. Give yourself time to grow into it. Just keep your postings relevant, lively, and appropriate for your target audience.
  10. Allow comments, but moderate them. Again, you’ll get better results from your blog if it’s a conversation channel, not just a publishing channel. However, you are not obligated to publish every single comment posted to your blog. And you will need to control comment spam.
  11. Expect some jerks and have strategy for handling them. They’re inevitable online. I’ve written a series on handling porcupines, trolls, and other species of online vermin.
  12. Don’t obsess over how many/few readers you have. Are they the RIGHT readers? Are you successfully engaging them over time?
  13. Give it time. There are millions of blogs, so it takes time to build your audience.
  14. Adapt. It’s easy to experiment in this medium. Take advantage of that. Don’t get locked into a rigid plan. Be flexible in terms of how you approach your goals and measure success. Be open to serendipity.
  15. Keep an eye on the “fun-o-meter.” It bears repeating: If you aren’t enjoying your blog, if you don’t find it rewarding, if you dread having to post – you’re not doing it right. Time to change your approach.

If you want to attend: Well, it’s probably too late to register (sorry for the late notice), but you can try. E-mail Kathleen Reid. BPC members, $11. All others, $13. The event includes lunch.