So You Want to Start a Blog: Tactical Tips for Making it Work 4

The blogosphere is enormous. To really be able to reach your target audiences takes thoughtful planning and execution. When you connect through blogging and other social media tools, it’s possible to build meaningful dialogue and deeper relationships with your target audiences.

The single most important thing about blogging, I’d suggest, is to post regularly. If you’re not sure of your “voice” and need to get a handle on the medium, practice makes perfect! Regular, consistent posting allows you to attract readers and subscribers, engage them in dialogue (readers will not comment at an abandoned, or irregularly updated blog) and extend the conversation beyond your blog through links and trackbacks.

Let’s take it step by step:

Establish clear goals: Maximize your return on investment by having a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish with your blog and how it fits into the overall communication strategy for reaching your target audiences.

What action do you want readers to take? Visit/read regularly? Visit your Web site? Comment? Link to your content? And how do these actions fit into the bigger picture?

Determine the best type of blog: Identifying and defining your blog will help determine topics to cover, as well as tone and content of your posts. What type of blog you have will depend on the answers to the first two questions. You can see a terrific list of “types” of blogs here. This list is a great start and will orient you to the options. For more ideas, see here and here.

Start writing: Set a schedule for yourself and begin writing! Publish consistently and regularly. For your blog to be successful, you must focus on both quantity and quality. Quality means that you post informative content in a consistent, recognizable voice. Quantity, of course, means regular updates.

Be patient, it takes a while to find your “voice” and get to know the blogosphere and it can take up to a year to build a steady readership. For more tips on writing take a peek at the dozens of articles, blogs and posts that I’ve saved online.

Promote it: Once you begin writing, you need to do a little legwork to promote your new blog.

Include your blog URL on everything you’d normally include your Web site URL: Email signature, Web site, LinkedIN profile, business card, mailers, brochures, etc.

Submit your URL to blog search engines and directories such as TechnoratiBlogorama or Alltop.

Become an active commenter on other blogs – this not only helps build dialogue, but blog readers will follow your comment back to your blog.

Publish original research or breaking news. This can result in pick up by A-list bloggers (those with high readership) and traditional media.

Measure: With any tool, it’s important to measure your success:

  • Google Analytics is a free service that monitors inbound traffic.

This is by no means an exhaustive measurement list.

So that’s a basic overview. For those of you who have a blog, what have a missed?

About the Author Kelli Matthews is an instructor of public relations at the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communication, she owns marketing and PR firm Verve Northwest Communications.

Find her on Twitter at
@kmatthews or via email at
kelli@paloalto.com
. You can follow her on Google+.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/vicky.willenberg Vicky Willenberg

    This is a fantastic article! One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since launching my blog 3 years ago, is that it is an ever-evolving process. Although I began writing with a particular goal in mind, my blog, like its author, is not static- it is always growing and changing. This had lead to content that often changes voice or perspective yet always circles around the original goal.

    There have been many growing pains for me along the way. One of the biggest being waiting for the numbers to come and accepting that the numbers are often confusing. For example, my “followers” only total 43 but I get almost 2,000 hits a month. Talk about a mixed message! However I have learned along the way to be consistent and continue with what works and the numbers will follow- most of the time.

    If I could give any pieces of advice to someone launching a blog I would offer these two things:
    1) Invest a significant amount of time searching for your focus. What do you want to be the foundation upon which you build? This will determine your content and your voice.
    2) be CONSISTENT. Your readers may not always show themselves, but they are out there. And they miss you when you’re gone. Commit to writing weekly or daily (determining a schedule is part of the initial process of discovering your focus).
    Vicky
    http://www.thepursuitofnormal.blogspot.com

    • kellimatthews

      Vicky,
      Thanks for chiming in with your experience. Building a readership is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. I can often feel like you’re shouting into the ether at times. Great advice!

  • Regina Floyd

    Thanks for some great tips on where to share blog post. I’ve been sharing mine in several locations but not the ones you mentioned. I’ve also been commenting on other blogs post so glad to know it is worth my time investment. Thanks again

    • kellimatthews

      Regina, So glad you found it helpful! Sometimes it’s hard to know if what we’re doing is “right” (or at least in line with best practices); I’m glad the post provided some confirmation for you. Best of luck with your blog!

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