To have a successful blog that people will look forward to reading, we recommend that you focus your blog posts on your industry. If you’re in the security software business, for example, were commend you write about security software and not fall into the temptation of including articles about your weekend ski trip, your Red Sox Nation membership, your kids’ pictures, or your coin collection. The length of your articles can vary widely, but we recommend you avoid writing anything more than one page long; despite how clever you are, articles longer than a page make people’s eyes glaze over and can repel people looking for gold in their overstuffed RSS readers or e-mail inboxes.
What should you write about? Anything that pertains to your industry and that will be of interest to your readers: how-to articles, analysis of a current industry trend or challenge, announcements of upcoming events, feedback on articles you read in print publications, etc.
In addition to informative articles, you can include lots of other information that mixes things up nicely for your readers. Give your readers a list of links to 5 or 10 other relevant articles you’ve recently read or videos you’ve watched. Build on another blogger’s work by adding to the discussion with your own insight or disagree with another blogger-this is a great way to get attention from the top bloggers in your industry. Diversify your blog posts by adding video-either embed links to existing YouTube videos or break out the video camera and record yourself talking about a hot industry topic, but keep it short-no more than two to three minutes, max! Create cartoons or caricatures of things happening in your industry. For inspiration, take a look at the funny cartoons in the Sunday New York Times that parody politicians, and then find an artist who can create something similar for your industry. Buy a copy of the New Yorker magazine and take a look at the cartoons and try to find someone to create similarly humorous ones about your own industry.
In order to come up with consistently good ideas for your blog, you’ll have to figure out the way in which you work best. For example, Brian tends to get his best ideas on Saturday morning after a good night’s sleep, but Dharmesh finds good ideas all the time. In order to keep track of your ideas, either carry a notebook and pen with you or use your mobile device to store ideas. Brian, for example, uses a section in the notes application on his BlackBerry to note blog ideas. The best way to find ideas, however, is to learn from other bloggers by reading their blogs.
In addition to your own blog content, you’ll want to invite others to write on your blog, including local professors interested in your industry, thoughtful customers, analysts in your industry, and other bloggers in your industry. Guest blog articles make sense for a few reasons: they expose your company to thought-leaders in your industry who will be flattered by your invitation, providing you a chance to engage them in a deeper way than if you just cold called them; guest articles lessen your content creation load; and they expose your audience to more ideas that (hopefully) reinforce your remarkable value proposition. The upside for guest bloggers is that they get exposed to a new audience and get a link from your blog back to theirs.
When you ask someone to be a guest author, you might get some “pushback,” as people are busy and don’t have the time to write a new article (especially if they are prolific bloggers themselves!). To help people develop content for your blog, you can use the following tactics: Send interview questions via e-mail to which they respond and you paste into an article; purchase an inexpensive video camera (such as the Flip Camera) and record yourself interviewing your guest- it can be rather fun pretending to be Charlie Rose or Anderson Cooper for an hour.
New bloggers often feel anxiety about how frequently they need to write. As a rule of thumb, we recommend you write a minimum of once per week. If you’re a sole business owner, you’ll have to take this on yourself. If you work for a larger company or partnership, we recommend you spread the work around. For example, in a security software company, the CEO, CTO, product manager and application engineer can rotate weekly-with each person writing one article a month. The benefit of spreading the work around is that it takes the workload off you, and it gives exposure to rising stars in your organization who will probably enjoy the privilege.
Above all else, make sure your articles are remarkable!
This article is an excerpt from the book “Inbound Marketing” Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.