Blogging is a great way to get your brand out there, develop an audience, and build relationships. This is true whether you're Pepsi or some guy in his garage. Unfortunately, it's less than obvious what the optimal blogging strategy is, and there's a lot of conflicting information out there.
Ultimately, the best blogging strategy is going to depend a lot on your keyword and market niche. But perhaps the best place to start is not by talking about what you should do, but by dispelling some of the myths about blogging.
1. You Need to Blog Every Day
This piece of advice gets thrown around quite often, and there are some circumstances in which it may be true. For example:
- You are a broad niche, big brand site whose goal is to keep users up to date at all times, with a primary focus on news in that niche.
- You have trouble sticking to a blogging schedule and won't do it regularly unless you do it every day.
Clearly, this does not apply to every blog. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn't necessarily blog every day.
- Users can get burnt out on trying to keep up with your blog, and eventually get fed up with all the emails and Facebook updates.
- Constantly putting out content can cause the quality of your work to suffer, so that your blog becomes a mile wide and an inch deep.
- There simply isn't enough information available in your niche, and you end up repeating yourself and boring your users to tears.
What should you keep in mind when it comes to your blogging schedule?
- Have a routine and stick to it. Once a week or even every two weeks is fine, as long as users know when to expect updates from you, and the content is worth the wait.
- Have something to do every day, even if it only takes up a few minutes of your time. It could be research, social media time, outreach, guest blogging, graphic design, or whatever. Just make sure that you're always putting some effort into your blog each day, so that it doesn't become forgotten.
- Plan ahead of time. Set up brainstorming sessions so that you never sit down in front of the computer without knowing what you're going to write about. (This doesn't necessarily apply as strongly to news sites, but even then you should have a plan for certain types of activities, even if the content itself is more ambiguous.)
2. Great Content Markets Itself
It's far more accurate to say, "You can't market crap content." The fact of the matter is that great content gets lost all the time. It takes tons of SEO work, social relationship building, and sometimes even advertising to get your work out there.
The plain and simple truth is that there is way too much noise, and very few people are willing to spend any of their time sifting through it for the one piece of gold after hours and hours of searching. This is why they subscribe to blogs in the first place. Once they find something they like, they stick with it, so that they don't have to search anymore.
The days when you could just submit your posts to Digg or Delicious are gone. Those sites have lost all popularity because they were too easily gamed. Reddit is incredibly averse to anybody submitting their own content, and all the alternatives are simply too obscure.
You must reach out to successful bloggers, influential social media personalities, and/or get your SEO in place if you want your content to be discovered. You have to reach a certain level of critical mass before anything viral can ever happen.
3. Your Posts Have to be Short
There is a pervasive belief that long posts bore readers, and this is true if the content isn't interesting in the first place. The truth is much more nuanced. Sometimes this myth is true, and here's why:
- Irrelevant details are boring. Whenever you discuss a subject, you should break it down to the most interesting aspects, giving just enough background for them to understand these main points.
- Large blocks of text are intimidating and hard to navigate. Nobody wants to read something if they have to work to remember everything they just read.
- Some people are simply too busy to read a long blog post.
Notice that only the third point is actually related directly to the length of the post. The other two are about the way it is written and structured. These can be resolved by:
- Ensuring that every sentence has a purpose, either to entertain, or to inform with relevant information.
- Breaking up paragraphs, using subheadings and lists, and adding images.
Of course, this tells us how to make long posts worth the time. But why would we bother with long posts in the first place?
- The people who are most interested in a subject are also the most likely to share it or link to it. These are also the people who are more interested in long posts, and will find shorter posts unfulfilling and superficial.
- Long posts make the best cornerstone content, which is referred to over and over again. They are a great way to put together something comprehensive, so that users don't need to jump back and forth between a dozen different posts to find everything they need.
- Stick to a blogging schedule, and make the content worth the wait.
- It takes great content and great marketing to build an audience.
- A few long posts can make your site more appealing, as long as they aren't tedious, unorganized, or irrelevant.
Have you fallen for any of these myths? Can you think of others?
Image credit: Ed Yourdon