So we’ve gotten pretty far since Marketing 101: Why Do We Market. I spoke of the importance of a website in Marketing 201: A Website Worth Visiting and now I’m going to reveal how a blog affects things in the grand scheme.
Blog’s are interesting things. Whether you mean for it or not, they serve a lot of purposes and there’s no way to turn those purposes on or off. They just always perform these tasks, the question is are we using these performances to our advantage. Here’s my opinion of what a blog can do.
1.) Give your audience a sense of who you are.
2.) Give your audience insight into photographs that may not be in your portfolio.
3.) Update the public regarding projects you’re working on and generate interest.
4.) Give Google something to index that’s new and fresh on a regular basis.
5.) Draw people to your website by referrals that aren’t Google.
6.) Give your audience an awareness that you’re both in business and aren’t going anywhere.
Blogs tend to do all these things, the downside is that we may not be taking advantage of these, and they could be affecting us negatively. Let’s take a look at each point and discuss the pros and cons.
1.) Give your audience a sense of who you are: “It’s a me, Mario. And a my brother, Luigi” – “Yo, how you doin’?”
Getting to know you by reading your blog is something that your audience is going to do. No matter what your blog is for, you’re writing something, and someone’s reading it. Give them a good impression. This can be so positive but also so negative. If I’m offended by a blog, I’m not going to think much of that person or the blog and I’ll probably move on to something else. You have to keep in mind that your audience is the general public. It’s fine to get into great detail about your opinions, but try and keep them PC if you’re hoping to attract all sorts of readers. If you’re blog is based on your personal opinions, then forget what I just said. Although most businesses do prefer to be favoured by everyone in the public eye.
I’ve found that the best way of giving people a good impression of me is to be myself. After I read a bland generic post I often find myself annoyed by the author. It’s great to see that you take awesome photos and it’s really nice that you love your clients, but I can’t tell you how many blogs read the exact same to me. Everyone seems to be equally happy to photograph something, and equally overjoyed to have been a part of some process. Give me MORE I say. Let me know you, not your photographer persona. I know you love photography, and I know you take awesome shots. But I’ve just read eleven other blogs that read just like yours.
Stand out. Have a voice and you’ll be heard. Just like you don’t want to be offensive you don’t want to be overly bland. People can tell when you’re trying desperately to seem loveable. It’s not at all the worst thing, but it would be better to be yourself.
2.) Give your audience insight into photographs that may not be in your portfolio: “Look I’ve got more photos here!”
A blog is a perfect way to share the photos that you have that are good enough to be on your website, but not in your portfolio. You can easily add new images to your blog and trust that prospective clients are going to notice them.
Reasons to make a sad-face regarding this are simple. You don’t want to only be updating your blog thinking that “that’s good enough”. If you’re putting crazy amounts of great images on your blog hoping that people will see them you’re insane. You’ve got to update your website too. The thing about a blog is that new visitors are at best only likely to go through the images they see when they click on “blog”. It’s less likely that they’ll keep scrolling through your catalogue of posts with umpteen images in each.
3.) Update the public regarding projects you’re working on: “This is what I’m up to, isn’t it cool?”
People who are reading your blog may want to know what it is you’re doing during your time. So.. tell them. Better yet show them with images. Point is you can use your blog to give people insight to what you’re up to. It’s just another way of them getting to know you. It does really help though. People read my blog and they know they can just send me an email and ask me some questions. They know what I’m about and when they send me that email, it always feels a bit more personal than from those people that haven’t read my blog. Projects you’re working on are just as great at letting those people get to know you as being yourself when writing.
Of course I wouldn’t be writing about this unless it was a double edged sword. You want to be careful with what you include in your blog as far as projects go. You always want to seem professional, so if you make an announcement regarding an upcoming project, you better follow up with it. I’ve seen a lot of posts promising info or changes to websites and they end up taking a long time. In essence, you’re lying. I mean you don’t mean to be since things happen that are unexpected. But your readers aren’t a part of your everyday life. They don’t know that your puppy’s stomach got twisted or that you broke your toe. All they know is that you said something, they came back, and what you said would happen didn’t. This is in fact something I have a hard time doing right myself.
Just be as true as you can.
4.) Give Google something to index that’s new and fresh on a regular basis: “Here you go, indulge”
Google loves new content. The best thing about a blog is that every time you post something, Google will notice. This is especially great for those of you with flash websites that have nothing for Google anyway. However you do have to integrate your blog into your websites. It’s not the easiest thing to do but the reason it’s so great is that once integrated, Google sees the blog as part of your site. Thereby giving your website a better indexed rank overall as well as the blog. If your blog is simply another page you’ve linked to you website, you’re wasting all that delicious content on the blog and your website isn’t getting fat at all. It just stays skinny like Charlie the stray cat. Merge those blogs! Worth the pain, trust me.
The downside to Google indexing this info is that it cares what you put on your blog. You want to be careful not to spam your pages with random links or offensive material. Google cares. Also once you get going, you want to be consistent with you content refreshing. Google loves new content, but it likes it even more on regular intervals. Having weird gaps between posts can confuse search engines so try to manage the intervals as best you can.
5.) Draw people to your website by referrals that aren’t Google: “Check out this post on whatever this guy was talking about.”
If your blog gets popular enough, people are going to start posting its link around the interwebs. It’s really great when you find someone talking about YOUR blog. It’s also a really great way to get new visitors to your blog and website. Interesting and relevant content is the best way of doing this. Eventually you’ll notice a lot of incoming traffic and not only is that great for you in terms of having a nice audience base, but again Google loves finding your links on other pages.
The only possible downside to this is if people are putting your link up on crappy websites. This actually hurts your Google ranking and may give you a poor reputation in general. I realize this is somewhat out of your hands. However there are a few things to consider if you’d like to avoid this. Try not to post too many random thoughts or “updates”. These tend to be picked up easily by crummy search engines and as soon as someone posts a link to your post somewhere on the net, it’s treated like spam.
6.) Give your audience an awareness that you’re both in business and aren’t going anywhere: “Check the date, dude. I’m alive… or at least I was yesterday.”
This is my favourite thing that a blog does. It’s so wonderful. I just looked at your website, I think you’re cool, and now I want to see how you’re doing. WOW! You’re in business AND you posted something yesterday!! How wonderful indeed. I now know that you’re alive, well and successful. It’s always so refreshing to visit a website and see that a blog post has been put up very recently. Doesn’t even have to be that great of a post. It just lets me know that you’re there. Something very comforting to the consumer.
Again, massive downside being if you’re in business, but you haven’t posted a blog update in months. I may assume that you’re not around anymore. It’s easy to fall off the wagon with blog posts, but it’s important to keep them going so that people never assume you’re dead. I always feel a little gross after finding a website that I like and noticing that the blog hasn’t been updated in a year. In this manner, old content is just as bad as new content is good.
Ways to keep your blog a success
So aside from what I’ve mentioned above, there are a few other tips to consider in keeping your blog read.
Consistency. Your audience expects some consistency and it’s nice for them in they know they can check back in a few days and they’ll have something to read. I’m not saying post every day, but what I am saying is however often you do post. Keep it consistent. You definitely should try and stray away from posting mutliple blogs posts at the same time. If you’ve been gone a while and think you need to get back on that horse right away, you may have more than one thing to post. Well, sit on the second one for a day. Give your readers something to look forward to instead of overwhelming them with info in one massive multi post blog-o-thon.
I was bad in May and June. And I mean real bad. I posted a lot in the middle of May and then the studio got the better of me. I stopped posting entirely and as a result, people immediately stopped visiting. Then in June I didn’t post at all and my hits where amazingly regular at next to nothing. July came and halfway through so did my posts. I was lucky and got views again fairly quickly but I just as easily may have not gotten any views again for a long time. Here is a visual representation of my hits for May and July. [The yellow bars are the hits]
July saw new life at the end when I started posting again.
Another thing you can do is discuss relevant information to your business. Keep the blog professional and focused on a subject and people looking for that information will eventually find it. If you post about business and then your personal life, and then something else, you may start losing readers who are only interested in one of those things.
Add wonderful content. Whenever you can, you should try and include an image, video or even just a link to something cool. Don’t spam your page, but give your readers something to look at aside from endless text.
Try adding humour you boring SOB.
Engage your audience. Give them something to think about. It’s great to read a post, but every now and then it’s even better to read a post and then have something to think about.
To sum up REALLY quick (almost makes everything above useless actually)
Keep it simple, keep it interesting, keep it regular and you’re knee deep in gravy while on a train… or whatever that saying is… boat??… gravy train.. yeah!
Attract people to you blog, from there they’ll visit your website, from there you’re going to get some calls and from there you may get some jobs. Seems like a lot of work, and it is. But it’s all worth it in the end.
This ends Marketing class. Hope these four posts were helpful. I feel strongly that each element in this series is necessary however that’s just my opinion. Ultimately everyone has their own recipe for success. Good luck!
Thank you for reading.