Blogging for beginners

Caroline O’Doherty wants to blog. She contacted me asking for advice on sources of information to help her kickstart her efforts.

Caroline is a campaign manager based in the north east of England. She is currently working in the charity sector but also works on projects as a freelance marketing manager.

There are many excellent resources but I thought it might make a good series of blog posts for us to work together over the coming weeks and explore some of the issues via a series of blog posts.

Caroline agreed, so here goes. If you’re curious about blogging but have yet to get started why don’t you follow the series? And if you’re a blogger maybe you’ll have ideas to share with Caroline.

A professional blog acts as an excellent shop window and a platform to build a network. Mine has landed me introductions, speaking opportunities, book deals, and my role at Ketchum.

But it’s not for the faint hearted. It requires original thinking and commitment. The Internet is littered with blogs that have been started in a rush of enthusiasm but have quickly faded.

Caroline’s first task was some homework. I asked to think about the objectives for her blog, and how she’d determine whether she was successful. I also wanted to explore her motivation.

In Caroline’s own words:

I frequently read blogs. I use them to find out information before I make a purchase or decision. I read blogs to find out more about the subjects which I find interesting.

I want to know more about the blogging process; learning about their design, how to build traffic, and creating quality content.

I want to learn more about blogging for three reasons:

  1. I think blogging would give me a platform in which I can be more creative. I used to work in the broadcast industry and I miss creating content on a daily basis and seeing the effect that content has on an audience.
  2. I work on freelance marketing projects where a better understanding of blogging and how it can work for the client would be advantageous.
  3. I’d like to be able to talk about blogging and be knowledgeable on the subject. The organisation I work for doesn’t currently have a blog – are they missing a trick or not?

I often ask myself why I haven’t given it a go and just started a blog anyway, learning as I go along. The answer to that is that I’m not completely sure what I want to blog about, I just know I want to learn about the process.

If I achieve my objectives I’ll be able to discuss the pros and cons of blogging, offer advice and support to others thinking about starting a blog, have a greater understanding of design and templates, know how to attract and retain blog traffic and feel creatively fulfilled.

Learning by doing is one of the most powerful ways of understanding social media. It is difficult to provide advice if you lack first-hand experience.

The topic for a professional blog should be driven by your interest and passion. If you lack enthusiasm for a topic it is inevitable that your content will be dull.

Caroline is a freelancer and is tackling issues in her professional life that will inevitably have a value to others.

Her initial comments have already thrown up a range of topics such as how to blog, identifying and engaging an audience or public through content, and using new forms of media for learning and helping decision making.

Caroline’s next task is to come up with five to ten blogs that she likes or admires, and write a sentence about what appeals to her about each one.

Blogging is first and foremost about content. But it is also about building a community around that content.

If you’re after further information about blogging as a means of building your personal reputation I’d recommend Me and My Web Shadow by Antony Mayfield.

Alternatively watch out for the next post in this series.

Photo via Anne Mole via Flickr with thanks.

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Professional advisor for agencies and communication teams, Wadds Inc. Author: #brandvandals, Exploring PR and Management Communication. #PRstack, Share This, and others. Visiting Professor, Newcastle University.

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