Happy Birthday Telltale Ten!
It’s been 52 weeks since I committed to sharing my zany life and work adventures on the Telltaleten.com blog. I have managed to amuse myself, sometimes amuse others and definitely piss a few people off.
For anyone who’s thinking about starting a blog, I warn you, it’s a lot of work. I was the kind of person in college who could write a term paper in a single night after a few cocktails, so it didn’t seem too hard to bust out a BLOG post each week and WOW the world with my amazing thoughts and adventures. Turns out, it doesn’t work like that.
Sometimes you just don’t feel like writing. Sometimes the topics you want to write about are too personal, sometimes it seems like you’re being a whiny little bitch (who wants to read an article about someone running out of gas? It was a metaphor, ok?), and sometimes, you just don’t feel like doing it at all. Telltaleten.com has been all over the map. Each entry connected back to one of the Telltale Ten (you can read about the Telltale Ten here), but I am not sure “consistent messaging” would be among the top ten phrases my readers would use to describe my content. What I can say (since I am writing this and you are not) is that in looking back over the past 52 weeks, almost every story has some purpose to it.
If you are thinking about writing a BLOG, you can just go all ham and start writing about anything whenever you want. Or, you can maybe use one of these top ten tips I learned in my first year as a Blogger.
My friends who workout know this rule too. To get results, you have to build on what’s there. Bloggers and Vloggers will tell you the same thing. Post on the same day every week. We picked #telltaletuesday as it sounded the coolest as far as days of the week go. You may want to choose based on your personal schedule, the cyclical nature of your business, your audience’s needs etc. Not only does this help you stay on schedule and produce more content, but also it helps build your audience because they know they can look forward to your new posts the same time every week.
2. Inspiration is Flaky
It can take me a realllllly long time to get around to writing my blog. While I would rather eat a mouse than miss a #telltaletuesday, I have pushed it to the 11th hour more times than I would care to admit. My Director of Marketing will toss around ideas (aka – hey, how is the BLOG for tomorrow coming along. How about ________), but that doesn’t work for me. Something has to inspire me and it is anyone’s guess as to what that will be until it happens. So when I’ve finally come up with something to open up the floodgates of those creative juices, I try to take advantage of it as much as possible and don’t stop until the piece is finished. Still having trouble coming up with an idea? Try one of these techniques.
3. Real life makes great BLOG content.
For me personally, it’s way easier to write about things that actually happened to me as opposed to things I just think about. My opinions are formed from life experiences. I never claim them to be right or even useful, but they are always mine. These tips could be considered the Top Ten Things NOT to do – oh well, it’s what I have done for the past year. Have I mentioned that equates to 52 entries? That’s right.
4. Visuals matter.
A well-crafted blog without an image just isn’t the same. Most people need that extra layer of stimulation to draw them in. And not all images are created equally. I’ve found personal pictures to attract the biggest audience, followed by funny memes. Stock photos of a guy yelling into a phone to accompany a blog about frustration are the worst. Please don’t use stock photos. Unless you want to laugh at how dumb they are, then check these ones out.
5. Link out and link in.
I’m not an SEO expert but I was told that your blog will improve it’s rankings by including lots of links to other articles in your blogs, and by having other websites and blogs link back to your blog. Makes sense, right?
6. Research isn’t always good.
Say what? Yes, I am a Market Researcher. But, when writing a BLOG, research may not always be the best way to go depending on your audience and intent. I try to write personal stories, things that have actually happened to me; things I’ve learned and opinions I’ve formed. If I do too much research prior to tackling a subject I end up including too much of someone else’s ideas. My advice is to write the blog first and then link to other articles to back up your ideas, not the other way around.
7. Embrace the blogging community.
For almost every topic you can think of, there is someone blogging about it. There are even a lot of people out there that blog about blogging. (Like I’m doing right now.) What I’m trying to say is that the blogosphere is like a community. Reach out to people who write about similar topics. Share some links. It will help you reach a greater audience and it will lend credibility to your blog. I’ve been published on other BLOGS like the Micro-Business Blog and Executive Vine. Once you start to get published, those people will often come back looking for more content.
8. Promote your BLOG – even ask people to read it (gasp)!
The goal is not just to drive traffic to your website, although that is great. The goal is to promote your content and connect with your audience and that doesn’t need to happen in one place. Twitter, Facebook and especially LinkedIn are places where my audience already spends time so it would be crazy not to try to reach them where they are. Also, use hashtags. I try to always throw in #telltaletuesday combined with subject related and/or attention grabbing ones. If you want to know what hashtags are trending RIGHT now on your subject, you can go to buzzsumo.com. If you’re not sure how to use hashtags at all, check out this article.
9. Use Your Own Voice
I pride myself in being the exact same person inside and outside of the office. So why would I suddenly get shy when writing my blog? I know when the readers who know me personally are reading telltaleten.com, they can hear me saying the words. I always have at least one person edit my post for the week – sometimes two. Most of the time, I change back whatever they edit as it is not what, or how, I would say something.
10. Don’t Shy Away From Controversy
There is a time and a place for corporate writing. A company website is a good example — full of glowing reviews about the company’s new products, its efficient processes and its competent staff. But if your blog sounds like this, you are doing something wrong. No one wants to come back week after week to read a new marketing piece about your brand – unless you are a super cool brand. I’m not saying don’t paint your company in a positive light. I’m saying be real about it. Talk like yourself. This is YOUR blog. People want to know what YOU think, not what your company wants them to think you think (I think.)