Versatility is Key to Blogging Success

Promote your blog? How exactly? It’s not that hard to write an engaging blog. What people need to know is what to do with the blog.

The writer was clearly frustrated. He or she wanted a formula. A magic bullet. A wave of the wand that had not been delivered during a 30-minute webinar. The problem, of course, is that there is no simple way to attract and hold a reader’s attention when technology has packed our devices with more instant information, education and entertainment options than even Jules Verne’s time traveler could imagine as he zipped into the future from Victorian England.

But let’s not overlook the premise. Not hard to write an engaging blog? Simply not true. Given the clutter and competition, writers face a daunting challenge as they struggle to be relevant and relatable. So:

- Get to it. Don’t make readers struggle to get your point. As a trusted colleague likes to say, The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

- Get with it. Be relevant. Give yourself 75 words or less to answer every reader’s first question: Why should I care?

- Get over it. Sure, be creative. Also be sure to respect people’s time. Helpful, charming and funny are good. Writing long because self-editing is tough work? Bad.

Once you indeed qualify as engaging, the trick is to switch from creative writer to creative marketer. These days, that requires a mix of social media and old school soft skills. While technology and all those apps fluster many, this is really the easier piece. You will need to:

- Focus. Define your goals. Are you out to start a movement? Influence young minds? Win fame? Whatever it is, each post should move the ball an inch or two down the field.

- Be selective: Just as with writing, more isn’t better. Running too many social media sites diffuses your message, plus they’re tricky to maintain. Identify your target audiences, determine where and when they hang out, and pick your apps accordingly.

- Look within. Find your unique voice. Make it resonate it in every post, and use it in response to each reader comment. When it comes to word choice, you’ll also want to appeal to the search engines, meaning use common words and phrases.

- Stay on the field. Ever love a TV show and then they killed it? You thought nothing could replace it and then something else did, and fast. Post once or twice a week, using all the above strategies, or forget about getting noticed, let alone followed.

Problem is, Twitter and the rest only get you so far. The time has arrived to add a handshake to your cyber-shake. This is where body language, smiling, eye contact and the ability to deliver a short, compelling pitch enter the equation. It is also where many fall woefully short. Some tips to help when you SPEAK in person:

- S (Start Strong) You’re a storyteller; start with an intriguing story. Or a provocative question. Or some amazing statistic.

- P (Prepare) Practice aloud until you know your lines cold. Delivering with confidence will make you more memorable.

- E (Energize) Like your stuff? Show it, and the audience will respond. This includes positive body language and smiling as appropriate.

- A (Adjust) Everyone feels anxious. The trick is to channel your anxiety down the right alley. See yourself wowing the crowd, not messing up. Practice helps. So does deep breathing, visualizing success, and warming up beforehand. Did I mention practice?

- K (Keep Steady) Make sure you know your main point, and that you deliver it with precision and clarity, both when you open and close.

The reality is that even great writers have trouble getting noticed. You have to be good on your feet as well as on the keyboard. These tips should get you going, but, sorry, there is no magic wand. Unless you’ve discovered one. In that case, please share.