The Golden Rule of a Successful Blog

Green Blog key on computer keyboardAfter careful consideration of an appropriate topic to kick off the Anatomy of Restlessness site blog, there seemed to be only one real answer – the secret of a successful blog; the one rule that if you follow it, you’re website will benefit more than from any other. The Golden Rule of Blogging, if you like. Everything else you do on your website to communicate with your customers, clients and followers comes second to this.

The Golden Rule

The golden rule is: Blog often.

That’s right, all you have to do to be on the way to a successful blog is to blog often – as regularly as you can. We’re talking about once a week here, frequently enough to keep your blog (and therefore your website) topped up with fresh content. Your customers and other interested parties want to see you’re still up to something new. Also vitally important, Google considers recent and frequent updates to be an important indicator that your content is worth showing their customers – which is just about everybody.

A white laptop, a pad of paper and a yellow pen on an orange backgroundFrequent blogging might not sound too difficult in isolation but for most people this is an extra job to do on top of all the others; one more task to fit into an already crowded week. If your blog is going to be successful, you need to set aside and protect the time to write it. Every week. You can make this easier by finding the time early on to write up a few extra general blog posts but not post them. These should be on topics that will continue to be relevant for the foreseeable future. Then, if the time comes around to write your blog and you absolutely have to do something else, you can use one of these posts you ‘prepared earlier’. Just remember to top up your pool of ‘substitute posts’ as soon as you can, so next time you need to do the same thing you don’t go to your stash and find it empty.

The Silver Rule

So, you’ve set aside enough time to blog. You know you need to blog to keep in touch with your customers and to keep your website fresh – but what do you actually blog about? The bottom line is that it needs to be something that will interest your existing and potential customers. There’s no rule that says it has to be about the business you’re in, but as the one thing you know about your blog visitors is that they’re coming to your site, it makes sense to keep it on a related topic. If regular blogging is the golden rule, then the silver rule is to make your blog posts interesting or useful – preferably both. There’s a lot of information on the internet, a lot of it on blogs. People should come away from yours feeling they have learned something interesting, that they can use or will want to share with others. By the way, did you know that one third of all websites is powered by the content management system WordPress (which originated as a blogging platform)? Not one third of all blogs, but one third of all websites. That fact still amazes me. I read it in a reputable web magazine, but if you feel the need to pass it on and amaze your friends and co-workers, you can just tell them you read it here.

A woman sitting at her laptop computer with writers blockWhen the day comes that your inspiration fails you, remember the golden rule wins over the silver one. If you can’t think of something interesting to blog about, blog about something that isn’t so interesting. This is real life after all, and you’re not always going to be on best form. Consider your favourite TV show; some episodes aren’t as good as the others and you accept that. Imagine one week the announcer’s voiceover before the show said “Sorry, but I’m afraid the writers couldn’t come up with a plot for this week’s episode. Please come back next week and we’ll probably have something for you.”; would you accept that? In some ways, if you don’t post on your blog it’s worse, because there’s not even an announcer to explain; it just seems like you’re not there any more. I might be stretching the TV analogy a bit to suggest your blog readers will ‘switch over’ to a similar alternative on another channel – your competitors – but if you’re absent for a while that’s what will happen. No one likes visiting a blog only to find no new updates to read.

Pitfalls to Avoid

After telling you to blog even when you can’t think of anything good to blog about, a few notes of caution are in order. It should go without saying that not every potential blog post is better than nothing at all. Below are some potential issues to watch out for.

Be Careful About Private Information

A woman arranging topics on post-it notes attached to a boardDon’t blog about anything private you’re not happy being in the public domain – especially if the private information is someone else’s. Remember that, however unlikely, anyone can potentially read your blog.

While your readers knowing something about you can improve loyalty, it can also make you seem less professional. The correct balance differs from business to business and person to person, but you have to present an image that reflects how you want to be seen by others.

Avoid Negativity

Try to stay positive in what you blog. It can be difficult to talk about real life situations without some negative elements – after all, most solutions you have to offer start with a problem, and most problems are caused by someone or something. However, you should think carefully about saying anything that could upset others – especially your clients.

I always keep in mind the case of an IT professional who went to Memphis to do some work for FedEx at their headquarters. On arrival, he used Twitter to share some negative opinions about the city. Unfortunately for him, one of his followers was a FedEx employee who took offence and was senior enough to make sure that he never did any work for FedEx again. While his indiscretion wasn’t huge and is something any of us might think about a city we visit, weighing up the pros and cons of writing it publicly might have indicated that this was something better left unsaid.

Don’t Copy!

This should go without saying, but don’t steal other people’s content and call it your own. If you use information from other sources, make sure to attribute it to that source and provide a link if possible. Crime doesn’t pay, and Google doesn’t like duplication of content either. If you see an article somewhere else that want to share on your blog, provide a link to it and use your blog to comment on it, disagree with it or add to the discussion. It’s good to have conversations on the web but you should add to them, not just reiterate them.

So, there it is!

Hopefully this blog post has energised some of you into writing a blog if you don’t already, or picking up an existing blog that may have fallen by the wayside. A good blog can be hard work, but will pay dividends if you value the relationship you have with customers, present and future, on the web.

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