by Yvonne DiVita, book coach and author advisor at Master Book Builders.
I remember in the early days of business blogging, back in 2005-2009, being interviewed repeatedly about my marketing to women online focus and how blogging was working to help my business. Blogging was the cornerstone of my work, at that time. It brought me more attention and eyeballs than I had ever dreamed of and I quickly saw the value it could have for my clients.
I remember being asked on many of those interviews what I saw for the future. What future did blogging have? everyone always wanted to know. Where would we be in 5 years? they asked.
It Won't Last - But Like Twinkies, It Has
Blogging was laughed at, in those early days. Business pundits and business coaches shook their heads and said, "It won't last. I will never advise my clients to have a blog." Even our authors, back then, resisted our advice to start a blog.
Child's play. That's how blogs were treated. People blogging obviously didn't have anything better to do. If you said you blogged, people rolled their eyes and laughed.
Until they didn't. Until people started making money using their blog as their brand. Until many of us began to work with brands who wanted the attention of our readers. "My friend thinks it's crazy that you get paid to blog," my daughter once said to me. I grinned because I was smarter than he was, apparently. I got paid to... wait, I was getting paid to write. That's all blogging is, writing. And I'm a writer. So why shouldn't I get paid?
Well, we're in a new world now. How the mighty have fallen. All those big names. All those know-it-alls. They told me, when I talked to them, that blogging was for the little people. They told me that blogging would never amount to anything. They said no one cared what any of us who were blogging had to say. They laughed out loud, sometimes.
"Blogging is not a business tool. It's a megaphone with no substance behind it," they said.
They were wrong. Much like that favorite snack cake, Twinkies, blogs are here to stay. Mind you, the idea that a Twinkie will last for years and years, if left unwrapped and in a cool, dark place, is a myth. But a strong one. I bet some of you still believe it.
Read Any Good Blogs Lately?
I knew they were wrong and sometimes it frustrated me. I remember having a conversation with a book client who said, "I don't see the benefit of a blog." He was a smart man. His books were widely acclaimed in the circles he moved in. He was a great communicator, a professor, a man who was committed to sharing his expertise in book after book after book.
When I suggested he start a blog, to further enhance his web presence and get his book noticed by more than himself, he shrugged. "I don't think so," he said, in that soft voice that made everyone around him sit up and take notice. "Blogging isn't for real business professionals. None of the people I want to reach read blogs."
We talked further about blogging. I told him it could grow his readership. He proposed to me that he wanted his books to be read by small business owners, CEOs of businesses under $ 24 million. He knew his message of how to be a great CEO would resonate and help those people. But he didn't see how a blog could get him there. He insisted the people he wanted to reach didn't read blogs. When, of course, they did. Many big brands were starting to blog by then. (Debbie Weil lists quite a few big brands that blog, and some of those blogs started WAAAaaayyyy Back When.)
I did finally convince him to start a blog, but he never kept it up. He never engaged in the conversation. He was off writing a new book, while his previous books sold only to people who knew him.
You Can't Force Blogging
I saw right away that forcing someone to start a blog was the wrong thing to do. You can't start a blog, not keep it up, and expect results. But, I also knew, experienced, and had many friends who experienced, the power of blogging. A blog, written in daily, with open comments, was the best thing for small business owners since... I don't know, since paved roads made it easier to get to and from work, and for folks to get to your shop, if you had one.
Today, you don't have to write daily. Don't be frightened by that. We did it back at the beginning, to show Google we were serious. When you blog today, make it well-written, purposeful, not so much 'about' you as about what you can do solve problems. Create video. Video is perfect for blogs today. Make a schedule and stick to it!
Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post over on my site titled 25 Things a Blog Can and Will Do For You in which I showcased all the ways - well, maybe not all, but 25, anyway - a blog can serve a business or professional, if they give it the attention it needs.
Here are the first seven, because I feel strongly that these are the most important ones:
Increase brand awareness. This comes from using your brand colors, logo, and fonts in each blog post and image.
Drive traffic to your website. Often, your ‘blog’ is part of your website, these days. In those olden days, we had separate blogs and websites. I prefer blogsites today.
Improve your SEO. Blogs are search engine friendly, if you add content that is useful, relevant and shareable.
Create a new focus on an old idea. That’s where you bring your originality to play.
Connect to other social platforms, and drive traffic to them.
Broadcast your message to your audience a little at a time. Blogs offer a way to share the whole message, or to share it in smaller chunks. This post could have been broken up into 5 sections, but I chose to do it this way.
Establish you as a thought leader. A topic I often covered on Lipsticking.
Pay attention to #7. This is where a blog can serve anyone, best. If you're a writer, you absolutely want to be regarded as a thought leader. Thought leaders get noticed. They get invited to keynote at conferences. They get to sell their books at the back of the room. They get to demonstrate their talent and expertise. They build community with their readers. Thought leaders leave a legacy through everything they do, but the most and biggest impression you can make towards becoming a thought leader is to write a book.
And sometimes, blogging is the answer to that. (you can read a history of blogging over on HubSpot - very interesting and informative)
What was/is the Future of Blogging?
Back to the question asked at the beginning of this post. I always answered it the same way, "Blogging is going to create more personal and face-to-face relationships than anything else we have, today."
Blogging connects people in ways social media cannot. You can have a full conversation on a blog. You get to know the writer. Blogging is like journaling out loud. Some people put a lot of personal stuff on their blogs, others keep those personal stories for private conversations.
Blogging can easily be the precursor to your book. A lot of smart people have written books on their blogs. The goal is to get the content out there, let people comment and direct you to where the story needs to go, and get immediate, valuable feedback on the flow, the engagement, the writing, the insight, the plot, the story, whatever it is you want feedback on. And yes, non-fiction tells a story, too, folks.
So the future of blogging is exactly what I predicted. We're about 18 years in now, and blogs are still around. They are still popular. They exist not to blather or chatter or 'throw up on the page'. They exist to have serious, fruitful conversations with your peers, prospects, and clients.
And, in the end, a blog relationship creates friendships that last forever. These are people who read your blog, interact with it, and move heaven and earth to be wherever you're going to be, in person, to meet you face-to-face.
As a writer, a would-be author, or a small business professional, creating those true, engaging, thoughtful, insightful, and comfortable connections is the first step to building that community around your message.
Blogging is still the answer. Yes, I submit that it is. The key is to create the right kind of blog and be consistent in your content. Don't add it willy-nilly, like I've been doing here of late. Heaven knows, I love Lipsticking, but it's not a priority these days.
Master Book Building is my priority and my blog there is full of great videos and content about being an author, becoming an author, and learning how to market yourself as an author.
Good stuff. Told by good people. You should hop over and watch a few.