100 Blogs and 4 Things I've Learned
The back end of my website lists the pages on the site and includes a rundown of all the blogs I've written. It also has a counter showing the number of blogs I've done and this is blog number 100. I was amazed a few weeks ago to realize I was getting close to 100, but I guess when you write one a week for two years that tends to happen.
I've enjoyed writing, posting and sharing the blog, but I also have to admit that it's been a lot of work. After all, I've written close to 100,000 words in the last couple of years.
I've also learned four important lessons, so this week, here's a look at what I've discovered about blog writing.
It Can Be a Grind
When I decided a little over two years ago to do a blog, I had the choice of doing one a week or one every two weeks. I’ve written for 40 years, so why not do one every week I thought?
I don’t regret the decision, but there have more than just a few times in the last two years that I didn’t have a word written the day before the blog was supposed to get posted on my website and sent to my mailing list. That’s a little scary, especially since I care about the content I create and feel an obligation to the people on my list.
I write about the news media, communications, social media, public relations and public speaking. With very few exceptions, each of the 100 blogs has been about one of those topics. That gives me a lot of choice, but every once in a while, it’s been challenging to write about a topic that I haven’t already expressed by thoughts on. The good news is, the blog has been delivered every Wednesday (other than at Christmas) for the past two years. I’ve delivered.
I track the number of people who read the blog by using tools in Mail Chimp and Google Analytics and I find the most successful blogs in terms of readership are those that reference current events. A good example was my recent blog on Facebook and the personal information it gathers, as its CEO Mark Zuckerberg was testifying in Washington.
While there’s nothing wrong with a blog on how to drop a great sound bite in a media interview, or ways leaders can communicate better, I find the blogs that generate the most interest aren’t ones that could be written at any time. They’re the ones that relate to something in the news when it was written.
This presents a challenge though because some stories move into and out of the media’s attention pretty quickly. What seemed like a good topic five days before the blog is released, may not be as fresh on the following Wednesday morning. There have also been occasions when I’ve had to re-write part of the blog because of a late development on the story. It’s a double-edged sword.
Headlines and Images Matter
I suppose purists would believe the quality of the writing and information provided in a blog post should determine whether it should be read. That’s true to a certain extent, but I’ve also learned the blog’s title and main image also go a long way to determining how well it’s read, or at least looked at.
I generally take some time to come up with a headline that captures the essence of what I’ve written in a catchy way. There are some online tools that help too. In the past I’ve used a free headline analyzing tool from CoSchedule. Its site has a quote that states, on average five times as many people read the headline as the body copy and I certainly have no argument with that. It’s likely higher for me when I scan blog posts. The trick is to find a catchy headline without making it sound like clickbait. One of these weeks though I would like to try something like “You won’t believe what the cameraman saw next” under the photo of an attractive woman.
Images are obviously very important. I get most of my images from Unslpash, which is a site that provides free images. The images are especially important when sharing a blog through social media. I remember seeing a stat that said having a good image as part of a Facebook or Twitter post drives attention to that post up by 80 percent than one with no photo.
Use the Power of Social Media
A blog is great to place on your website or anywhere on the internet for that matter, but if nobody finds it, or reads it, it doesn’t add much value. It’s like a person alone in a room talking. Nobody else will hear them.
My blog is shared through my mailing list and social media channels. I always appreciate when readers “Like”, “Retweet” and “Share” it because it’s finding a wider audience. Please feel free to do so. Often (he wrote begging).
I do the blog each week for reasons that include wanting to have a voice on different topics that interest me, but mainly to help my business as a media trainer and speaker. I’ve never had anyone hire me to do media or communication training solely because of the blog (at least I don’t think so), but it’s all part of the marketing that I do to keep my name in front of a potential audience.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to start thinking about blog 101. Thanks for reading some of the first 100.