Steve Connard

How to Write Independent and Company Blogs

Types of blogs and their audience

Company blogs present unique marketing opportunities for companies. As part of the escalating interest in digital marketing and networking, blogs can become a cost efficient means of quickly communicating with colleagues and customers. Their characteristic personal style can create a relationship with readers that previously would have taken years to develop. When readers find blogs personally or professionally useful or s timulating, they continually return to the site, often communicating with the author via the blog's Comments. Blogs have the potential to cultivate lasting connections with colleagues and customers.

Many independent blogs have little focus and no direction; however some still manage to become massively popular. Those that do are invariably insightful and entertaining, and touch the zeitgeist or trend in their subject.

Some popular independent blogs draw such a huge readership they generate large amounts of advertising.

Corporate blogs

Well conceived corporate blogs can generate a huge amount of goodwill for businesses.

There are, however, some differences between corporate and independent blogs. Like the independent blog, business blogs need to stimulate thinking. Unlike the independent blog, business blogs need to have a clear goal, a clear intention.

There are three types of corporate blogs:

  • Internal blogs are designed for staff readership and circulate only within the company. They are informal and create a positive sense of community within the company.
  • External blogs are written for both the industry in which the company works, and the customers it services; and they build loyalty from both.
  • CEO blogs allow the CEO to become a voice within the industry.

A corporate blog can create employee and customer awareness of the company’s industry and market developments within it. It can announce events, and disseminate information (such as new product information, technical updates, and staff changes). It can invite customer comment, and cite customer case studies and success stories.

This cost-free, customer communication can provide invaluable insight about how the company and its products or services are viewed in the market place.

There are two ways to produce a corporate blog. A staffer, often in PR or advertising can take on the task, and, being already saturated in the company’s ethos and its industry, produce regular posts.

Alternatively, freelance blog writers, working with a staff coordinator, can write the blog from information with which they are provided. One advantage of the freelance approach is that multiple authors can become specialists in particular areas and deliver different voices.

(Both freelance writers and employees should be mindful of the legal and business risks in blogging and of the content becoming a permanent part of public debate.)

The corporate blog should be designed in a manner similar to the company’s main web site. Its address should be part of the company logo and information, and go out in all company emails. The blog should be kept personal, sincere and never adulterated with advertising. It should not overtly promote the company but contain thought provoking content for both staff and customers.

Well conceived and well written, the corporate blog, can produce more trust, faith and loyalty in a company than possibly any other means.

What makes a good blog writer?

A blog writer needs to be an expert, become an expert or appear to be one, be it in manufacturing steel products, home renovations or sex therapy. Readers want to see insight, commitment and passion.

Blog writing is also very personal; it’s a statement from you, so therefore you need to be willing to hold an attitude and express an opinion. Some of the best blog writers hold opinions which they know everyone may not agree with but will generate discussion.

A blog writer needs to become personally and professionally more observant, inquisitive and a laterally thinking. Like in any writing medium, the blog writer needs to be a proactive hunter of relevant, topical, information. Ideas for posts can come from media; watching TV, listening to radio, reading newspapers, and above all, trawling the web. However, ideas can also come from observing behaviour and conversations in social and business interactions.

TWhatever the source, the blog writer needs to think strategically and have the attitude of "how can I turn this idea in to a blog?" He or she sees the world through "blog" eyes

Finding content for blogs

Often it’s good to have a number of blogs in preparation simultaneously. At that stage they should just be lists of ideas; save the actual writing until your lists are ready to become prose, then write the whole post quickly, with passion and conviction. Then go back and review it.

Often ideas for one blog post will stimulate ideas for another post. Like other forms of writing, ideas can also come from "passive thinking" (the light bulb affect); those periods when the mind is still, often during exercise or driving. Sometimes a post just bursts out of you, other times it needs to stew in your head for while.

When working on a number of blog ideas, you need to consider what you post, when you post it, and why? The web changes quickly. You need to consider the zeitgeist of the week, perhaps even the day.

Finding a killer blog headline.

The headline is the most important sentence in your blog and should contain the keyword/s that are the genesis of the blog idea.

Like any business writing, headlines need to be short, standout, summarize, be descriptive and inspire further reading. Unlike independent blogs, business blog headlines should not be too controversial and ruffle too many feathers.

Superlatives in headlines will always work; likewise questions, opinions shaped as questions, and lists (e.g. "10 Ways To Jeopardize Your Next Pay Packet", "The Best 5 Employees in the Sydney Office").

The headline will determine how readers behave when they open your blog. Review it, thesaurus it, speak it out loud; until it rolls easily off the tongue.

The content of a blog

In most professional writing it’s often important to present both sides of an argument. Thesis and anti-thesis. Blogs are different. Blogs present ONE idea, they take a stand and argue ONE point of view.

Therefore the voice of the writer (which is the voice of the company) is important. That voice is your opinion, your attitude, your take on the world. (For new corporate blogs, the voice is one of the first things that the company and the writer should agree upon.)

Blog writing style must be concise, confident, and to the point; and sentences short, clear and direct. It should be personal, conversational and wherever possible, humorous. Like any writing, there should be fluidity between sentences. Often this is achieved by taking a component, an idea, or a word from the previous sentence, and using it early in the next sentence or paragraph.

Variety in the content is important. Consider using quotes, and crisp, dialogue exchanges with individuals. Presenting personal research is absolutely vital. Lists and tables can be used but they must be technically accurate.

Apart from factual accuracy, you must also have perceptual and descriptive accuracy, for readers will turn off if they see your view of the world is not identifiable, or at least understandable.

Blogs can contain a variety of media and devices (http://www.boingboing.net/) Still photographs, cartoons, graphics, and video are always well received. Even contests can be used. The post should contain links to related topics or source material, and keywords that will assist SEO (http://aadt.biz/search-engine-optimisation.html). Feeds are useful because they connect your blog to the world. Comments should be answered because they demonstrate that the writer cares. It’s also important to review the content; thesaurus it, and speak it out loud. If you stumble when voicing it, rewrite it.

Like all writing, a blog has structure. The headline kicks it off; the next sentence qualifies it or embellishes it. The middle expands or develops it (often with a "kicker"; something unexpected to spin the content thread in another direction – in screen writing it is called a plot point.) Lastly, the end summarises, ties the content or story back to the beginning and delivers the reader back to world. Ending a blog with a question is a sure way to continue the thought process and stimulate discussion. Don’t you agree?

Comments? Contact me.