Blogging has taken the internet community by storm. You may have heard the stories of people who derive a full-time income from their blogs in addition to garnering hordes of traffic to their websites and free publicity for their companies and organizations. Hearing these stories may encourage you to write your own blog. While blogging may be something that benefits you and your business, you’ll want to be smart about blogging before making some common mistakes found all too often.
Mistake 1: Have no purpose.
Before beginning to blog or even setting up space to do so, think about the purpose of your blog. What is its focus? This is a question often overlooked by those who begin a blog. If your blog is for your business or nonprofit, you’ll especially want a clear focus that addresses the interests, needs, and concerns of potential customers. All too often, blogs will write about anything under the sun, but if you’re trying to win business, you need to give your readers a reason to read (and return to) your blog. The weather or what you ate for breakfast probably won’t cut it. Give potential and existing customers a reason to read your blog: cutting edge industry news that concerns your business, how your organization deals with common problems customers have, things customers can do to make a difference as it relates to your nonprofit’s cause. Your customers will thank you for your meeting their specific needs and interests by reading and rereading your blog, giving you more website traffic, and spreading the word about you.
Mistake 2: Don’t plan to handle comments.
Part of the appeal of blogging is that it provides a way for the audience to interact with the written word. The dynamic nature of the web allows readers to post their thoughts and reactions to what’s been said by others and create a global conversation. That said, sometimes the comments won’t be positive or favorable to the blogs statements or the company or organization behind it. You’ll need to know if you’ll moderate comments or if they’ll be posted as soon as a reader submits them. If you moderate, which is probably the smarter way to go, it’s wise to go in with an established policy for the acceptability of readers’ comments—where you draw the line. Comments that are respectful yet disagree with the content of your blog probably should stay…or your readers may feel that you censor their thoughts. However, you don’t have to accept profanity, slanderous statements, or discriminatory remarks. Whatever you decide will not be accepted should be stated explicitly so that your readers know the rules of the game before they play.
Mistake 3: Let it go stale.
Now that you know what your blog is about and how you’ll handle reader comments, you’ll need to keep it going! Sometimes that’s easier said than done. You’ll need to check in regularly with your blog to make new entries, read comments, and respond to reader questions. When you begin a blog, you’re saying that you have the time to check and maintain it on a regular, if not daily, basis. So make sure that you will regularly have time for it as well as plenty of material to write about. And don’t get discouraged. It may take a while for readers to find you, but if you let long lapses of time come between blog entries, readers may not check back with you…they may think the blog is dead. And that’s not a good thing for your organization’s image.
Blogging can be an exciting new way to interact with potential and current customers. By putting a little forethought into the process, you may find a whole new stream of marketing for your business or nonprofit that costs little and reaps a lot!