Friday, July 26, 2013

Blogging Fluff Isn't Wanted Content by Jennifer Hudson Taylor

#blogging #platform #social media

As a publicist, there is one thing I hear all the time. "I need to build a platform so I need to create a blog. Where do I start?"

Well, you might need a blog, but it may not do you any good. It all depends.

It depends on if you:

  • Have time to blog
  • Have the determination to be consistent and keep at it
  • Have a niche theme that isn't already over saturated in the market
  • Can recognize change in the times and in your audience and be flexible enough to change with it and them
  • Genuinely like to blog

Now that the trend word platform has made significant rounds for several years, and everyone has figured out they need one, social media is exploding, blogs are saturating the web, and podcasts are increasing in quantity like wildfire. The big trend word right now is content--and has been the buzz word for awhile now. In fact, last year I wrote a blog post on Everything is Content. In spite of our ideas of what content is or isn't, we need to realize it takes many forms and isn't just words--images, podcasts, videos are all content.

This brings me back to my title, merely blogging a bunch of fluff isn't what people want. It will be ignored, deleted, challenged, and criticized. So what do people want and what should your blog content contain?

Your blogging content needs to be:

  • Informative - It should not be repetitive or sound like everyone else. Share and teach others what you have learned. This will give you credibility and make others appreciate friending and knowing you. This is what it means for content to have value. 
  • Interesting and entertaining - Include a mixture of images, illustrations and videos to make your point. Be yourself and use your writing voice in your blog. It should not sound like a work report or scientfic study.
  • Full of variety - Take different approaches to your topic and explore ideas and thoughts. You don't know everything, even in your field and niche. Invite other experts and colleagues to guestpost on your blog. In return they will promote their post and you will gain new visitors you normally don't have access.
  • Consistent - People are creatures of habit and like knowing what to expect so they will know how to fit your blog into their reading schedule. If you blog once a month or every couple of months, they will forget about your blog and fill that time with other content. My advice is weekly, post a blog schedule on which days you will blog and stick to it. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be everyday, but 2-3 times each week.
  • Organized and legible - When someone lands on your blog for the first time, they may want to read more of what piqued their interest and brought them there. Have a good archive system in place. I'm not referring to the auto-archives arranged by months and dates on your sidebar. I'm talking about using static pages on your blog to organize some of your best posts under specific categories. For instance, my blog has specific pages categorized by Writing Tips, Historical Research, and Inspirational Devotions. Also, include a search feature in the sidebar. Make it easy for people to find the content they are looking for. 
  • SEO - It's true that Search Engine Optimization is important and helps in ranking your pages higher on a web search. However, I caution people against writing a bunch of fluff in order to get those SEO words in your title and in your post. Make sure your content is relevant and helpful. This is where less is more and the value of quality is better than quantity. If you can't come up with original content each day, then daily blogging isn't for you. Blog once or twice a week. Your readers will appreciate you not wasting their time and save you from losing credibility and followers. 

Have you ever seen a blog title and clicked to read more, but was disappointed at the content and felt like you wasted your time? Did you take action and leave a critical comment, stopped following, or ignored their next few posts?


Annette said...

It is a good idea to periodically update a blog, check all links and content.
Be personable, when a person comments tell them thank you.
Every year I review my goals and what I hope to accomplish.
Organization is a must.
I study other blogs and learn all I can.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Great points, Annette. I do think it is easy to forget to check those links, especially the old ones.

Prasant Saxsena said...

Thanks for your tips. I generally forget to check those links. These points are good for every blogger.

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Rick Barry said...

Jennifer, your points are well made. For myself, I have redefined platform as simply "a built-in audience that is ready to plunk down money when an author's book comes out." (This definition hits the desired result rather than the method of achieving it, but it really is the bottom line.) The mad scramble seems to be how to attract that audience and keep them aboard the ship. When blogs first hit the scene, perhaps they had an advantage of being notable simply by existing. But now everyone from the school bus driver to the local pizzeria manager seems to blog, whether the material is thought-worthy or not.

I would be interested to hear from you and from other readers here of some fiction author blogs that truly work and maintain interest and freshness. Which author blogs set excellent examples?

Blessings to you!

Anne Love said...

Great post Jennifer. I share a blog with my CP, Jaime Wright. We share the posting schedule. We are not focused on posting for writers, but for readers. It feels like the market is saturated with blogs about writing. We are shooting for a coffee shop visit-feel, where we chat about books, life, and faith. Sometimes that makes it too broad, but we are hoping our "voice" is what comes through as readers get to know us.

Thanks for the organizational advice. We hope to update our layout design and we've been researching the best ideas.

Katy Glymph said...

Thanks for these tips. I need to read this helpful post several times.

Lisa Lawmaster Hess said...

Thank you for this wonderful post! I just spent an hour or so combing my blog by topic and creating tabs for my favorite posts, and posts by topic. I've been looking for a way to do this for ages, and this post prompted me to go back to the control panel of my blog and see what was possible. Hooray - and thanks again!

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Rick, Love the definition. As for single author blogs that are great examples, I think Jody Hedlund, Lena Nelson Dooley, and few group ones include Seekerville, Colonial Quills, NovelRocket, etc.

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

Anne, Katy and Lisa,

You're welcome and I'm glad you found the tips to be helpful.

Teresa said...

Great article! As a new travel blogger, I have learned quickly that EVERYONE is doing it! I started my website and blog in late Feb and attended my first Travel Media Conference in June. I learned a LOT there (maybe too much--it was pretty overwhelming). I had already created my own mission statement and core values and just refer back to them when I start to get bogged down with all the statistical data that can consume your life when dealing with social media. Reading your list was helpful because it reminded me that I am okay where I am. I'd rather inspire 1 person being ME, than 1000 being what some statistical tool says I should be. Thanks!