Blogs, which began as web logs, were essentially online journals intended to be shared with anyone who was interested in the daily goings on of the blogger. But, like most things on the Internet, blogging has found other purposes, evolving into an essential business strategy for even the smallest, one-person business. For the newcomer to this art form, the blogosphere can seem like a mysterious world. To demystify it, let’s break it down into its basic elements, the who, what, why, and how of blogging. This article deals with the most important question:
Why do you want a blog?
1. To provide value to your readers
The first rule of having a presence on the Web is to create a benefit for anyone who lands on your site. Web surfers have short attention spans. There is so much to see and so little time. If they don’t find a reason to read past your first line, they are gone in a click. The old WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) applies. Most successful bloggers are generous. They give away lots of information. It is there for the taking, and it’s all free.
2. To inform, teach, guide, entertain, or all of these
The content of that information is important because it relates to the mission of your blog. My blog, “The Writing Life,” is “full of musings, observations, and reflections of a 40-year veteran of the craft.” Its purpose is to encourage writers to write, and it does that through information, tips on writing and running a freelance business, humor, and personal insights into a variety of topics related to writing.
3. To develop a following of loyal followers and raving fans
All writers crave readers. Bloggers certainly do. If you have what you think is a compelling message, naturally you want others to read it and become captivated. But one visit to your blog is not enough. You want readers to return, again and again. In fact, you want them to subscribe and have your blog land in their e-mail in box every time you post. Your blog host does its part by providing RSS feeds and widgets to make subscribing easy. Learn about these tools, and take advantage of them.
4. To create and reinforce your brand
Branding products is not a new idea, but branding yourself may be. You are your brand; and everything you do, say, or write is a way to expose and expand awareness of your brand to many potential readers. Remember, www stands for World Wide Web. That means your message and the way it is presented are being broadcast all around the world. That is reason enough to put some time and effort into how you construct your blog, as well as each and every post.
5. To sell ideas, services, or products
Content counts. You have to have something to say, something worth reading. But WIIFM applies to you, as well as your reader. You have products, even if they are only concepts, ideas, philosophies. If you’re in business, what you are selling is more concrete. But even though selling is part of your purpose, if your blog is one big, online commercial, people may not find that worth too many return visits. Before you start designing your blog on WordPress, Blogger, or Godaddy, take some time to think about why you want a blog. It may be that you just need to emote or rant, but as business objectives those are unlikely to attract the kind of followers you want. Think of your blog as an equation: purpose + content + packaging = subscribers. It’s a foolproof formula for successful blogging.