I’ve started many personal blogs… started being the operative word. But I failed to follow through with what a blog truly is — a commitment.
The grand irony of course, is that content marketing is one of my specialties at Charles Ave. I’ve strategized, contributed to, and edited blogs for years. I’ve recruited writers, formatted posts, forged content partnerships, and promoted articles. In the midst of doing that, I also made excuses: I was so busy managing other companies’ blogs, I figured, how could I possibly maintain my own?
Well… no more. I’m hoping that this blog, being my own company’s and all, is the one that breaks the cycle.
But as I tell every client who launches a blog – it won’t work unless you work at it. And working at it requires long-term dedication to the blog’s objectives. So, you have to ask the basic question: what’s the point of a blog?
Any internet marketing hack will tell you that “content is king” and throw out buzzwords like thought leadership. And obviously, beneath any marketing initiative is the intention to build sales. But you can’t start a blog and expect the needle to move immediately. The needle might not even move a few months down the road. In fact, your blog might never generate a lead or make a sale… unless you do it right.
The basic point of a blog is to build a community that is interested in what you have to say. And no one is interested in listening to an overly aggressive salesperson.
Instead, a blog is an invitation, and your website is the party.
Ain’t no party like a blogging party
Let’s see how much I can torture this party analogy, shall we? When you host a party, you carefully consider the guests: who are they, and, knowing them, what would they enjoy? Should you prepare a fancy multi-course dinner or simply order pizza? Are there ice breaker games or do you leave it more freeform?
In the same way, a new blogger should define the kind of people he or she wants to attend, and then consider what those people would like. These profiles are sometimes called personas. For the Charles Ave blog, for example, I’m most interested in readers who are
- • current clients, to showcase their work and help them see what Charles Ave is busy with
- • fellow marketers who might benefit from my expertise and experience
- • potential clients, to get a feel for what it’s like to work with Charles Ave
- • friends, partners, and potential vendors who could help me out on future projects
Kissmetrics created a helpful guide for developing user personas for SEO.
Now back to the party planning.
This is a new blog, so my first few posts are basically a housewarming. I’m going to invite an intimate circle of guests – mostly friends I’m already close to, and maybe a few neighbors to try and get to know them better. It’s a small gathering, but that’s just fine.
As I grow into my home, my parties will get more elaborate. I might have theme parties on my blog in the form of regular features. One early idea I have is #WritingWednesday, where I share tips on how to improve your copywriting. Hopefully, guests who drop in on this event will want to come again.
If they do, the guests themselves are the ones that build the buzz. For the past few years, I’ve hosted an “Orphan Christmas” at my house for friends who don’t visit family for the holidays. Now that I’ve established this pattern, by October someone usually approaches me to make sure I’m hosting Christmas again. That’s exactly the kind of anticipation I want for the Charles Ave blog. I might add a podcast element in the future, or perhaps some live streaming events, but I won’t get overly ambitious with my party prep until I know that someone’s going to come.
Julia Child famously said that a party without cake is just a meeting. So it goes with any party on your blog. You can’t simply host a meeting and hope that people talk about it, share it, and love it. You have to offer them cake: something enjoyable, worth taking pictures of, that deserves to be shared.
Yes, there are parties meant to sell guests something. But even Tupperware parties include cake! And I would never host a Tupperware party without first cultivating a group of guests that consistently comes over – the kind of guest list that’s receptive to my soft pitches because it’s intermixed with cake.
The ultimate ambition is that down the line, my party grows so huge that I need to set up a stage, find liquor sponsors, and sell VIP tickets. But first things first: housewarming.
So that’s a quick peek at the beginnings of the Charles Ave blog. Whaddaya think? Will you come back next time? Did I beat the party analogy to death successfully, or can you stretch it even further? Let me know in the comments.