There are many ways to blog, and there are many reasons to use these tools to build content for the web. No one way is right. Here’s a blogging tip: decide early on whether you’re writing your blog for your own entertainment or if you’re building something with it.
This fork in the road is a useful one for deciding what level of success you can aspire to achieve. If you’re writing for yourself, that’s excellent! You’ll certainly find people who appreciate what you write about. But if you’re intending to build a media property, either to support your business or as the very core of your business, this requires different consideration. My goal with this post is to point out a few differences between blogging styles, and to give you ideas on how you might build your blog into a media property, should that be your goal.
Quick definition: I intend the term “media property” to mean that the blog stands alone, offers easy and obvious value to its subscriber base, and supports a point of view and subject matter. This can range anywhere from a great personal blog that covers a certain topic area, or it might be a new media property, with several blogs and authors. It could be your company blog, if done well.
First, a Random Sampling
I went to Twitter Search and put in a search for people posting new blog posts. Here were the first five I pulled up:
- How to Take Effective Notes
- Metallic Silver DS on the Way
- Castle Crashers Is Everything Too Human Isn’t
- Imagine When This is How It Works
- Local Flavor: It’s Really All About the Flavor
Post 1 comes from someone who’s clearly blogging to provide information. It’s proudly a geek’s blog, and I found the punchy posts informative. Though it doesn’t appear the author is making a play to grow or be a larger media property, I think the basic premises could go in that direction, should that be an interest.
Post 2 is from a site that’s clearly intending to be a media property, with a gazillion ads around the post, and a little bit of informative news. It obviously competes with the Engadget/Gizmodo crowd. Nothing wrong with this, and with the right amount of traffic, this site’s probably making the author(s) a little money, too.
Post 3 is from a game enthusiast’s blog. It’s not intended to be a media property per se, but there’s some opinion information for one to enjoy.
Post 4 looks to be a personal blog. It’s interesting, but very personal.
Post 5 was from a company, a market, and it was definitely a media property in support of a business. The post was entertaining. The blog design was fresh. And the information was useful to me as a reader.
From here, let’s talk about what the core components of your blog might be, should you decide to build your blog to be a media property.
Elements of a Successful Media Property
Entertain Me – First, if you’re intending to blog in this form, be entertaining. Is the story entertaining? Because without that, there’s precious little else you’ll accomplish. Read Duncan Riley’s The Inquisitr. It is perpetually entertaining. He went with a blend of popular news and tech news. Why? Do they really mix? Who cares? It’s working for Duncan.
Be Productive – If you’re going to put out media, do it all the time. Christopher S. Penn produces information all the time for the Financial Aid Podcast and blog. He’s the authority people go to for quality financial aid information, partly because it’s great material, but also because he delivers it all the time.
Deliver Value – I really love what Mike Gunderoy’s been doing with Web Worker Daily. Mike and the rest of the team there give me something useful every day. In fact, most of the GigaOm sites are winners to me, and I get a sense of value out of the posts there.
Be Unique – It’s important to keep your blog fresh. This is soooo challenging, and yet, lots of people are doing it every day. Be very cautious about not doing a “me too” property. There are clones and clones and clones out there of certain bloggers and blogging theme areas. Please don’t add to the clutter. If you’re writing a “yeah, what ____ said” blog post more than twice a week, you’re not working hard enough. I’m sorry, but that’s not going to cut it in the longer run. Riff off other people’s stuff from time to time. By all means. Linking and sharing on the web is great. But if you’re not breaking new material out and doing your own unique thing, it’ll get tiresome fast for most readers.
Be Responsive – Blogs are a two way communications product. It’s okay to act more and more like a professional media property if you want (cough cough Huffington Post cough cough). But if you’re bothering to use a blogging platform and working within the space, be human and make two way connections on your platform. One person doing this consistently well for years and years is Robert Scoble. He’s always been human, and still participates in the flow of it all daily.
With this in mind, here are a few more steps for moving your blog from something that’s interesting and receives a few comments here and there, to being a product you’re proud to produce, and that provides value to yourself or your company. Your mileage may vary, and feel free to add your own ideas to the comments section.
Some Blogging Tips for Moving Towards Being a Media Property
- Build your posts with a goal in mind. “If I write this type of post, I’ll get more business offers,” or “When I write this post, I’ll get more links,” or “This kind of post is great for conversations.” I’m not here to judge your goal, but rest assured that media properties have goals.
- Consider an editorial calendar. If you’re blogging daily, it might be useful to put up a quick calendar with topics, so that you can measure out how many posts a month are about X and how many are about Y. This helps you balance your coverage. Also note which posts do well, on which days, etc.
- Edit. If you’re going to write quality stuff, edit. Remove excess writing. Take out the dead weight. Edit.
- Bank a few posts for when you don’t have a ready topic for your next post. Not months in advance, but a few days or a week out is reasonable.
- Obsess over your audience (aka the people who comment and give you feedback). It’s a synergy, this media property stuff, and you can’t just write in a vacuum. (Well, you can, but that’s traditional media).
- Find ways to offer more. Give more value. Create special extras. Go somewhere different for your readership.
- If it’s a business, treat it like one.
- If it’s for passion and thought leadership, be passionate and lead.
There are many ways to blog. No one way is the best. Experiment with what you’re comfortable with, and learn from your efforts. And should you find yourself following some of this advice, and you find your efforts are hitting a certain level of response and growth, excellent. If not, share with us what’s going on, and maybe some of the smart people who visit this site can share and help you push through.
What did I miss?
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Photo credit, noise collusion