10 Commandments of Blogging

The path to content marketing salvation

For me, the emergence of blogs was my burning bush. I didn’t understand it at first, but I’ve come to see that salvation (commonly known as content marketing) is within reach. If only we’re willing to believe.

Get CreativeAll joking aside, using a smart keyword strategy (hint: there’s research involved) and the right social media channels (for your business), you can refocus your marketing dollars into a content marketing strategy that’s both sustainable and cost effective.

Combine keywords with a strong on-site blogging platform and social media engagement and you’ve got it. Simple right? Wrong, it’s simple but not easy.

Understanding how to use content marketing is a lot like reading the catechism. Begin with the basics and practice to learn. You won’t get it perfect with your first post, but you’ll learn as you go. And if it’s any consolation, we’re all learning as we go.

I’ve been blogging since 2007 and I’d like to share some of my hard-learned lessons with you. Consider it your cheat sheet to getting to those pearly gates with a few less sins on your dossier.

1.    Get creative

As a blogger, you are first and foremost a story-teller. Information isn’t merely doled out; it’s artfully told. The heart of giving good blog is how the information is presented. The details of the stories are where we find the magic. Blog with intention.

2.    Tell the truth

Facts and truth are not the same thing. Information can’t be made up, nor can the essential facts of a product or service. Using fictional scenarios and made-up quotes is against the rules and more than a little smarmy. Tell the truth, according to you. If you lie or stretch the truth, you’ll likely be called out for it and the road to redemption is all uphill from that point.

3.    Respect the contract

Respect the ContractThere’s an implicit contract between you (the blogger) and me (your reader). For my time as a reader, I understand and believe that your blog is going to give me something of value. Link to other relevant articles or purchasing information. Make your post the lighthouse that shines light on the information sources I need if I’d like to learn more.

4.    Get personal

A blog post is personal, not because it’s about yourself, but because it allows us inside your blogger head. We see your thought process. Unlike a responsible journalist or technical writer, you don’t remove yourself from the story. You’re a participant in it. You, the writer, are always there, indicating for us what you think about the subject at hand.

5.    Give to get

Your blog should vibrant and alive and full of opinions and engagement. People who write great blogs understand the value of sharing and of feedback. A blog is opinion-based and the true power of it lies in the comments that follow – and your response to them. FYI, if criticism scares you, developing a thick skin and a sense of humor should be your top priority before launching your blog.

6.    Engage your readers

Every single comment posted on your blog deserves a response. Every single one. Your readers took the time to share their feelings and you owe it to them the acknowledge that gift with a response. No responding to a comment is like not answering your customer service line. Doesn’t exactly extend a warm and cozy feeling, does it?

7.    Be nice

Not everyone is going to agree with you or even understand you. Some people will be critical and mean about your writing. Some may even call you names. My advice? Be nice. Don’t reduce yourself to a flame war on your own blog. Thank the haters for taking the time to visit and share their thoughts and then move onto the next comment.

8.    Share with abundance

Share with abundanceJust because you write it doesn’t mean they will come. Using social media will help the search engines find you faster and bring more people to your site. It’s called content marketing – using keywords to signal to the search engines that you’re doing something over here that’s worth taking a look at. The downside is that if you use the wrong keywords, you may the wrong kind of traffic – or worse. Traffic that doesn’t convert.

9.    Elevate other bloggers

Blogs are a powerful force because they intertwine and work together. Writing a blog without ever reading a blog is impossible – the system is built on reciprocity. What’s more, developing a unique voice on your blog takes time and practice and other bloggers can help with their valuable feedback. If you never visit another blog but expect other bloggers to visit you…enough said.

10. Don’t give up

I can hear my mother saying, “If it’s worth doing, it not going to be easy.” Sadly, she’s right. This stuff isn’t easy and it can hurt when you publish your brilliant post and no one (other than your mom) visits. Don’t give up. You can do this. How can I be so sure? You’re reading my blog and that’s a brilliant first step.

Cheat sheet ~ Blogging do’s and don’ts

Blogging Do’s:

  • Use the first person
  • Use lots of detail
  • Go as deep as you can
  • Show instead of tell
  • Keep it tight
  • Make a point
  • Tell the truth

Blogging Don’ts:

  • Overstate your point
  • Be afraid to get your hands dirty
  • Water it down
  • Make things up
  • Rely too heavily on cuteness

Posted on Social Norths Blog on August 20th, 2012

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