launching a blog ropes to skip #1: Reputation management

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2008/05/24 1 views

in c blogging - case studies

    You might as well avoid some of the mistakes I made as a blogger. Here are some of the things you should avoid from doing, thereby saving yourself much time and effort

Recently somebody asked me something similar to:

    Hi Urs I launched a blog called xyz and I am trying to build it up and get mor readers and traffic. Any guidance let me know please.

At the recent Going Sole conference a person who I met and will hopefully collaborate with soon asked something similar to:

    Urs, how can I make sure I do neither waste time with my blog nor upset my clients with posts that are not relevant to them?

Well, learning from my mistakes will help you save time and succeed faster. Below I share some of the lessons I learned during the last four years or so.

1 – I know my target group

Nice but sometimes you just do not because things may change. Of course, defining the target group one intends to write for before starting to blog is a smart move. An example might be:

Academic: this reader may be interested to hear about the latest research results and teaching cases, methods, etc. in the discipline you have chosen (e.g., HRM or a sub-discipline such as recruiting and selection?).

Micro business: this reader might be your customers or those that you are trying to convince purchasing your product and services – so writing about the industry or matters that relate to your product without pushing the latter could be the way to go.

Whatever you do, read here about how to figure out the objectives you should set for yourself before embarking on a blogging venture:

Sensible Metrics Make a Difference or Why Less Traffic is Better

I had defined my target group – current and potential clients. To my surprise, however, people I never expected to read my social media blog began subscribing and sending me feedback or leaving comments.

So here I was two months into the ComMetrics venture. I was forced to re-analyze what I did and as a result thereof, I began re-focusing my content somewhat to satisfy this slightly more diverse readership I had. Not easy to do and I am still having a hard time.

My advice: Define your focus group but keep a careful watch. 3 months after launch, you should re-assess. Are your subscribers the people you targeted for originally, or are people with slightly different interests also part of your readership? Therefore, are some adjustments warranted?

2 – long haul – it is all about serving a need

Like all projects including doing great research or building a successful business, being a successful blogger does not happen over night.

What one can do right from the start is to decide what kind of blog one wants to launch and maintain. For instance, should it address professional things or else do you want to write about your hobbies or going on a hike with your family.

What is easiest for you? I prefer deciding what focus, subject, topics my blog will cover before I start a new blog. Most important is that I choose a subject, discipline or issue that I can be sure of I will still care very much about in 24 months. For instance, I launched EU-IST in fall 2000. It began covering information security and regulatory matters as far as they pertained to InfoSec, such as privacy or data security breach. With time, I learned from my readers that covering regulatory issues made some hard-core security geeks unhappy.

Finally I caved in and went ahead and launched EU-Regustand.

People read blogs for different purposes and our understanding is still limited how the social media domain works as explained here:

Social media – defining a concept

My advice: Time means change. Make sure that in a few months time your readership still consists of those people you wanted when you launched the blog. Changes might be required. Think about it as changing your product or releasing a software update with new or slightly different features. Nothing wrong with that if you are sure it serves a need.

Many of the EU-IST readers also subscribe to EU-Regustand, while some prefer subscribing to one of the two only. It does not matter to me; important is only that the readers get what they want.

3 – long or short-haul – it is all about branding

To succeed in the long term you have to start with something that gets your fancy. Hence, the subject you write about should still be of interest to you in a year’s time. This is why I find requiring students to write a blog for a course a bit of a waste of time. One tries to cope with the teacher’s demand to write a blog in order to get a decent grade. Unfortunately, rarely if ever does one get the feeling that the student’s heart is into it.

As well, at the beginning you may want to save yourself a few bucks or euros. One way to do this might be to have your blog hosted on such a service as Blogspot. This seems silly because the time you spend writing for your blog is surely valuable to you and your family. In fact, you could do something else than spending several hours on this project each week. So why not spend a few euros or dollars more and have your blog on your own domain?

To illustrate, our blog runs on:

http://ComMetrics.com but it could also be on:

http://blog.ComMetices.com or http://ComMetrics.com/blog

It is all about branding so you want to get the backlinks to your own domain and not somebody’ else’s. Accordingly, decide carefully and remember that free is usually not free as this story outlines below:

Before You Start a Corporate Blog, Tie Your Shoe Laces Properly

My advice: Do not mix hobby and profession unless they are the same. Focus on one and do it well. Second, host your blog on a domain that you own – branding is important.

4 – usability is the key – keep it simple stupid (KISS)

So hear you are, you know who your target group is, what you want to blog about and have found a domain name on which you want to host your blog. What about when people come to your blog. How convenient is it for them to find what they need to find?

Somewhere else, I wrote about the fact that you should offer your people to get your content via e-mail and/or RSS feed.

marketing 101 – what have high heels, cobblestone pavements & WordPress in common?

As well, people may visit your blog from around the globe. Accordingly, many may not have English as their first language. In addition, their Internet connection may not be as fast as yours may be. As well, using Java Script may slow down loading of your pages and having pictures load and change at random on your web page may not make the surf experience faster either. We explained this in more detail here:

social media – ropes to skip – Twitter – FAQ #2

Finally, the background you use is also important. Dark background might make it more difficult for readers to read your content. So why not make it easier on your visitors and use a lighter background?

My advice: Focus groups are not needed but using common sense when deciding about what you will offer and how you will do it does help a lot. If in doubt, just ask some of your readers for feedback. Keep it simple stupid – KISS.

5 – post whenever you want

At the beginning, I posted whenever I had time, felt like posting or had something interesting to say. Unfortunately, things do not work this way. Depending upon where your readers are, the weekend may not be used to surf or read blog posts in some countries.

Since I regularly study our server statistics, I discovered that, for instance, in Europe most traffic on our websites happens on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Hence, making sure that you post on those days does help.

As well, posting once every week throughout the year is far better than releasing four posts in one week for the month of June. We address this in more detail here:

4 Critical Steps Toward Better Serving Your Market Niche

Some highly successful bloggers urge us all to post each day to get ever more traffic. Unfortunately, running a business and writing thoughtful or at least helpful posts like this one takes time. Often I spend 2.5 – 3.5 hours to write and research for one post including finding the links I need to better illustrate matters.

I do not know about you, your family situation and your social life. You might have more time. Nevertheless, for me 3 posts are all I can handle and the result takes time away from other activities such as watching TV – which I can justify I think :-).

My advice: Post regularly one or two posts each week during Tue – Thursday. Striving for quality means posting once is better than two times rubbish.

Nevertheless, this post went out on a Saturday. During weekends sometimes an interesting post can attract traffic from quarters you might rarely ever get any. One reason could be that fewer news stories are being released on weekends. We will see if I succeeded with this one – I keep you posted.

Bottom Line

If you can address the above four points and find a solution that fits your needs, you will save yourself unnecessary work and plenty of time. Stay tuned, we have a follow-up story on this issue within a week. I will again discuss some more practical issues that we should discuss.

My Promise – Readers’ Pay Back Time

Mention my blog in your post using this link/code:

launching a blog – ropes to skip #1 – start right

The code looks like

<a href=”http://commetrics.com/?p=119″ title=”getting your blog tipped by ComMetrics” target=”_blank”>launching a blog – ropes to skip #1 – start right </a>

Drop me a line in the comments of this post with a link to your post that has the above code – link.

My promise: I will spend a couple minutes reviewing your layout, usability, SEO, and your latest posts to find something that will help tweak your website or blog.

I will make an effort to make the tip unique to every blog or website.

Most importantly, I will enter your blog into our database to track and benchmark your blog. This will give you the chance to get access to charts showing the trend of your blog’s performance in a few weeks time, free, of course.

Tidbit

You Tube video – Jaap Stronks and Urs E. Gattiker – commenting on Going Solo

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