When I work with clients to help them develop a strategy for blogging, typically they are first concerned about voice and tone, followed by a worry that they have nothing to say. The question I often hear is, “What should I blog about?”
Producing thoughtful blogs that have some substance to them is important if you want to develop a following of people who are interested in what you have to say. You don’t want people to read your blog posting and think, “That was a waste of 2 minutes”!
Here are some easy methods to kick-start your thinking process. These methods are designed to minimize the pain of facing the blank page and help you generate good, high value content.
These are my top “go-to” blog types that I recommend:
1. Opinion (Op/Ed) Piece
You are an industry expert, and probably are familiar with some of the latest content or ‘buzz’ that is coming out in your particular business. Do you have a strong opinion about it? Can you take a position around comments or findings from well-known industry thought leaders or publications? Look to Gartner, Aberdeen, Mary Jo Foley, Tiffani Bova, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review. One approach is to find an interesting article or piece of research that is in the public domain and comment on it. Agree, disagree, show how industry norms are changing or benefiting. It provides a great framework, and because you will be linking back to an original piece of content, there is a lot of “meat” for the reader to consume.
One of my favorite blog types are Q&A sessions – similar to a newspaper or magazine interview. You can schedule a phone call with an internal or external subject matter expert and just have a conversation. Use Lync or Web-Ex or some other online communication platform so you can record it and refer to it later. Write up the session in a Q&A format. You may find that you have enough content for more than one blog and can stretch it out over a couple of postings. If you are not sure what questions to ask, consider going out to one of your groups in LinkedIn and ask them to suggest some questions for you.
3. How To
Sharing some tips to help people do something that you are an expert in is a great strategy for building a readership that is based on trust. I frequently go out to www.hubspot.com because they have great “how to” ideas for marketers. I have recommended them to clients and participated in projects where my clients have engaged them. Who knows how much revenue they have made over the years, just from referrals from me alone, simply because they were willing to share high value information? Providing a simple step-by-step for how to do something that you are an expert in makes your blog postings meaningful, and helps to build a loyal following of people who may purchase products and services from you one day
4. Top X Things
People love lists. The top 5 mistakes, the top 10 must-haves, etc. Look at the title of this blog posting – The Top 5 Must-Have Blog Strategies. Admit it: it was the title that got you interested, wasn’t it? Whatever your particular area of subject matter expertise, you know there are things that you have learned that you would never do again, as well as some things that you do over and over because they help ensure your success. Consider a collection of lists that you can expand on over time to help position expert knowledge.
Similar to an Op/Ed piece, this strategy is to take a new announcement and then comment on why the announcement is important and how clients will benefit from it. For example, Microsoft just announced Windows 10 and included a long list of features. This is an ideal opportunity for a Microsoft partner to refer to the announcement, and then cherry-pick two or three features that the partner believes will bring tremendous client value. If you are serving a vertical market (like healthcare or financial services), you can talk about how a specific feature is poised to solve a certain problem facing the industry you serve. Again, you are leveraging current content and showing your take on what the announcement might mean.
Hopefully, these strategies will eliminate the panic that consumes you when you are asked to sit down and craft a blog, and all you think about is the blank page on your laptop or tablet. Don’t be stonewalled. Continue to blog; your readers are relying on you for some smart insight and thoughtful opinions.