Born to Blog: Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time

Overview

Launch a business and ignite a movement with a powerhouse blog!

Born to Blog is filled with practical, street-smart techniques and ideas to help you create and manage a winning business blog. Learn how to attract a loyal following, promote your blog, and write powerful content that generates new business.

"If your dream is to launch a business or publish a book, then read Born to Blog! You'll realize the ...

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Born to Blog: Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time

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Overview

Launch a business and ignite a movement with a powerhouse blog!

Born to Blog is filled with practical, street-smart techniques and ideas to help you create and manage a winning business blog. Learn how to attract a loyal following, promote your blog, and write powerful content that generates new business.

"If your dream is to launch a business or publish a book, then read Born to Blog! You'll realize the blogger way is your fastest path to success." -- MICHAEL STELZNER, founder of Social Media Examiner and author of Launch

"Born to Blog makes blogging accessible and fun for anyone. Read it, use it, and watch your business grow." -- JAY BAER, founder of Convince and Convert and coauthor of The Now Revolution

"Read this book, then go blog like you were born to do so." -- JASON FALLS, founder of Social Media Explorer and coauthor of No Bullshit Social Media and The Rebel's Guide to Email Marketing

"Blogging beginners and seasoned pros alike will find valuable advice they can put to use immediately." -- LEO WIDRICH, cofounder, Buffer

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071811163
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/5/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 482,931
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

MARK W. SCHAEFER is the author of the bestsellers The Tao of Twitter and Return on Influence. He is an internationally known speaker, consultant, and college educator who blogs at {grow}.

STANFORD SMITH is a digital marketing and social media strategist who created PushingSocial.com, a resource for business blogging.

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Read an Excerpt

BORN TO BLOG

Building Your Blog for Personal and Business Success One Post at a Time


By MARK W. SCHAEFER, STANFORD A. SMITH

The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Copyright © 2013 Mark W. Schaefer and Stanford A. Smith
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-07-181116-3


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Common Traits of Successful Bloggers


It got to the point that Raman Minhas hated his blog.

After four years of patient and consistent blogging about issues in his industry, biotech, Raman felt that he was spinning his wheels.

"I had built up a blog readership over that period of about 1,000 readers," the U.K.-based physician said. "And I was getting around 300 hits per month, but after all those years of blogging, I hit a wall. There was no organic growth of my readership, and no real reader feedback, no matter how hard I worked. After four years, I was disenchanted with blogging. Without any positive feedback, the blogging process became wearisome and I came to dread the 'time of the month' to write.

"Once in a while, I would read an inspirational blog post that would keep me going for a few more weeks, but I had to find a way to push through these blogging barriers or it simply could not last.

"So, I took a time-out," Raman said, "performed an internal review, and decided to refocus on a more interesting topic, medical technology. A subtle change, but I'd previously spent six years as an emergency room MD in the U.K. and was more comfortable with the technology side of the business than the abstract chemistry of new potential drugs.

"With a clarification of my niche, my focus became much clearer and I was reenergized. I found I could write more easily, and many more topics came to mind. Writing finally became enjoyable! Through the medtech theme, I was also able to connect to my interests in entrepreneurship and value investing. This was such a breakthrough. Slowly, the page hits began to grow—perhaps readers gauged more passion and a renewed sense of energy in my content? And the blog was starting to get NOTICED. I was invited to present at an industry networking event on the use of blogging in our industry. This was a small audience (around 60) but highly relevant. It was a milestone for me!

"Slowly I was finding my blogging 'voice,' and with this positive feedback, my confidence grew. I decided I needed to work on being more consistent and that I needed to grow my engaged network of readers. As my blogging changed, my audience changed too. I was now getting picked up by important medtech CEOs and investors. I decided that to grow the blog I needed to write at least weekly. This felt daunting.

"Here was another barrier I faced. Would I have the time to keep this up? Would I have enough to write about? I decided that I needed to make the time and this needed to be central to my business. My wife and I decided together that I was going to go for it, and I learned to make the time and started posting weekly, without much trouble, as it turned out.

"Consistency definitely helped. I could see the page views and readership grow! I also spent time systematically building my target audience on Twitter, using the advice in the book The Tao of Twitter. These people seemed to love my content. In a short period of time I tripled the number of page views on my blog, and it's still growing! I was energized!

"After all those years, my blog was finally starting to create some business victories:

• I was asked to attend an important two-day conference and moderate a panel on commercializing medtech. This is fantastic exposure for me and my business. Another breakthrough! To be authentically helpful, I am using my blog to give the conference exposure. I'm helping the organizers with sourcing medtech CEOs from my own network for other panels in the conference. It's a win-win-win for us all.

• One of my recent posts was picked up by an industry news organization, and it was put up on the front page of their website as a news item. This was incredible PR, and hits to my blog went up. It was so successful, they asked if my posts could be a regular feature on their site. Of course, I said yes.

• One of the CEOs from a high-profile company commented on one of my posts and subsequently introduced me to one his VC investors (a very influential group within my target audience).

• Another powerful CEO connected to me through my blog, and we are already discussing ways of working together. Things NEVER used to move this fast. It's as if the blog is a noninvasive, trust-building relationship booster.

• At an event in February this year, I met another powerful industry leader for just five minutes. But we have had the chance to continue to get to know each other through the comment section of my blog. The blog community is loyal to me and is helping me succeed.


"I have learned a lot along the way. Patiently and steadily build rapport and trust with your readers. Write about your passions. It takes time to find your blogging 'voice.' Authentic helpfulness and reciprocity go a long way. It wasn't easy, but today my blog is a fun and central part of my business."

Raman's story is not unusual—in fact, it's rather typical. There really are very few overnight successes in the blogging business. So let's dissect and explore some of the traits we learned from his experience.


TENACITY

Raman never gave up, even when he became disheartened. It takes time to find your voice, to connect with your audience, to learn how to appropriately build and promote your blog, and to write in a manner that connects with busy readers (more on that in the next chapter). Chris Brogan, one of the most successful marketing bloggers on the web, famously said it took him three years to earn his first 100 subscribers.

Using the ideas in this book will certainly lessen your learning curve and put a rocket behind your opportunities. But we can't teach you how to blog. You have to be committed, and you have to keep at it and learn by doing.

MARK: I often get asked the key to blogging success. My instinctive answer is usually, "Work like hell!" In a society conditioned for instant gratification, blogging can better be described in terms of an athletic ability that only becomes stronger with sacrifice, practice, and patience.


TAKE ACTION

If you are starting or building a personal or company blog, you should be mentally prepared to keep at it for a couple of years to make it work. There are no shortcuts. You can't buy a blog following. Your community has to be built patiently, one person at a time. Raman involved his wife in his decision to keep at it. Like anything in life, blogging takes a commitment.


FOCUS ON YOUR PASSIONS

Raman's success flagged when he became disinterested in his original blog topic. By refocusing his energy on a topic that excited him, his passion and energy flowed through his words. Of course that is going to come through in his writing!

If you're not passionate about your subject matter, you're on a short road to failure. You need to focus on one general topic so your readers aren't confused, but you can certainly work in lots of other hobbies and ideas. Both of us are eclectic people who enjoy sports, history, travel, art, and the outdoors. Although we typically write about business subjects on our blogs, we bring in all of these passions to help tell our stories and make a point.

STANFORD: Readers are drawn to passionate people. They feed off the blogger's intensity. When I first started writing, I adopted an all-business, "just the facts" approach to my posts. I studiously erased any emotional element that could dilute my logical arguments. These posts bombed. Slowly I realized that readers wanted to see how I felt about a subject. It was uncomfortable at first, but I began to open up and share my opinions and sometimes intense perspective on certain subjects. To my surprise (and delight), my readers ate it up. My passion gave them permission to engage with me on an emotional level. I now believe that passion is the "secret sauce" for powerful blogging.


TAKE ACTION

How do you find that passion? Try this exercise. Write out the headlines of 30 different blog posts you would like to write. Don't worry about the content—just write the headlines. Now look over this list. What is the common theme? Is it gaming? Pets? Books? Relationships? Is the list aligned with your business goals? Do you need to have multiple blogs to cover multiple topics? Developing a list like this forces you to think about writing for the long haul.


FLEXIBILITY

Raman exhibited flexibility in a number of ways in this case study. First, he was willing to find his voice and change over time. When he was getting no traction, he stopped and adjusted his topic so it better reflected his true interests. It's not unusual to start down one direction and then end up someplace else!

Finally, Raman was keenly in tune with the needs of his readers. Comments and feedback were important to him. These reader connection points energized him and provided inspiration for blog post ideas.


TAKE ACTION

After six to nine months of blogging, conduct a simple self-audit by asking yourself these questions:

• What posts were the most fun to write? How do I write more like these?

• What posts received the most interaction or feedback? What did I learn from them?

• Am I still having fun writing about this topic? Do I need to broaden my scope, narrow my scope, or change altogether?


CONSISTENCY

Raman's big breakthrough came when he decided to blog every week instead of once a month. The reasons for that are simple.

If you think about some of the benefits of blogging we've discussed—search engine optimization, brand awareness, and customer connection—they can only come with consistency. One blog post per month won't do it. Your customers need to be looking forward to hearing from you on a regular schedule.

STANFORD: Om Malik, the founder of GigaOM, a leading tech blog, said that his blog's success came in part from his discipline of publishing daily. When I read this, I committed to publishing a new blog every weekday. Although the daily goal scared me, I felt that my readers would appreciate more content.

The first week was tough. The second week was easier, and by the fourth week I was easily publishing quality content on a daily basis. In fact, I discovered that writing every day was easier than once a week! I've spoken with other "daily" blog-gers, and they agree that their schedule is easier to maintain than a weekly or monthly posting schedule.

MARK: One obstacle to consistency is an assumption that every blog post has to be profound. It doesn't have to be. In fact, short, simple observations and "how-to" posts often do the best!


TAKE ACTION

The idea of blogging creates a mental hurdle for many people. Let's reframe this. Can you write a 500-word essay once a month about something that is interesting to you? In analog terms, that's one page double-spaced. Sure you can so that! And if you can do that, you can blog!

Now, for a second post, write a summary of a particularly interesting article you read for work. Provide proper attribution, of course, and a link back to the original article. Add a short commentary of your own about why you liked the article. There's post number two for the month. That wasn't so hard, was it? You're on your way to being a consistent blogger!


COURAGE

Last, but certainly not least, is courage. That might seem strange to put in a book about blogging, but it is probably the single biggest obstacle on the road to blogging success.

It takes courage to put your ideas out there for the world to see.

It takes courage to be vulnerable, to even be wrong sometimes.

And yes, it takes a lot of courage to push that "publish" button.


MARK: One of the hardest lessons has been learning to open up with people and show a little bit of a personal side on the blog. And yet, whenever I do, I'm always rewarded for taking that risk.

I have written about 1,500 posts for my blog {grow} and other blogs, and there has not been a single one I have been completely happy with. But if you aim for perfection, you'll never publish anything. Having the courage to be good instead of perfect is a part of blogging success and the trade-off you have to make to be consistent.


TAKE ACTION

Yes, you can learn to be courageous if you have enough desire to succeed!

First, give yourself deadlines, and then publish whether you think the blog is perfect or not. For many people, especially those with perfectionist tendencies, you may never push "publish" if you wait for perfection!

Second, trust your audience. On average, out of every 1,000 comments on a blog, there might be one that is unkind. That's a pretty favorable ratio! In general, people on the web are very supportive. Eliminate the fear of criticism from your mind. It's probably not going to happen, and if it does, that means you have made somebody think. Job well done!


OK, there is one more trait we need to cover that is fairly universal. To be a great blogger, you have to be a great writer ... or do you?

CHAPTER 2

You're Not a Writer, You're a Blogger


Obviously you need to have some writing competency to be a successful blogger. But blogging is much different from the type of writing you might have practiced in school, primarily because blog readers are so different.

Blog readers usually are mixing business and pleasure when they visit a blog. On the business side, they are often hunting for new information. They have a problem to solve, and they may have followed a result from a search engine and arrived at your site. Other times, another person they trust has linked to your site and they've arrived out of curiosity.

On the pleasure side, they have lowered their "corporate" guard because they assume that your blog is informal. They hope that you can deliver your information with wit, humor, or in an easygoing manner that is approachable and genuine.

However, as you would expect, there are some tried-and-true rules for writing interesting and compelling blog posts. Let's look at a few straightforward ways you can dramatically improve your blogging skills ... with a little help from a jazz star!


FIND YOUR VOICE

You may never have heard of Ernie Watts, but he is among the greatest jazz saxophone players anywhere. If you're a fan of jazz, you can recognize his distinctive sax "voice" even if you were listening to a new recording.

Ernie has a live recording called "To The Point: Live at The Jazz Bakery," and in this recording, he explains the demands of distinctiveness and immediacy in music, but it also serves as a perfect description of a successful formula for blogging. Ernie says:

When you record live music ... that's it ... everything has led to this. All the practice, all the other gigs, everything you've ever done, comes down to today. This is as good as I get in this moment. Tomorrow is another matter. We'll get up again and practice and try to get a little better ... but this music is about the point of truth today.

It's about "Who are you?" and "What do you do?" You listen to [jazz great] Charlie Parker and you listen to John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk, and you have all that in your head, but it still gets down to who are you in relationship to all of this. Because no matter how hard I practice, I will never be John Coltrane. I'm me and I'm coming from where I'm coming from.

So at a certain point in your life, you get to that. That's the point of truth, that's your point of reality. It's who you are.


This quote sums up the imperative for originality in successful blogging so well. You may read other bloggers and admire other bloggers, but at the end of the day, it's about "Who are you?"—about how you fit in, your point of truth in this moment in time.

Like Ernie's sweet and unique sax tone, you have to find your own "voice" too. It is literally the only way to stand out in this overcrowded world we call the social web. We don't need repetition and sameness. We need you. We need your moment of truth.

MARK: When I have people guest post on my blog {grow}, I challenge them to write a post that only they could write. It can be a difficult challenge, but this discipline always results in a more interesting story!


TAKE ACTION

When you write a blog post, always try to connect the subject matter to your unique experience, your story, and perspective. This can be particularly difficult if you are working in a but-toned-up corporate environment, yet many excellent blogs have found a way to bring a human, personal touch to the content by trusting employees to be honest and approachable.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from BORN TO BLOG by MARK W. SCHAEFER. Copyright © 2013 by Mark W. Schaefer and Stanford A. Smith. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction: Were You Born to Blog?          

CHAPTER 1 The Common Traits of Successful Bloggers          

CHAPTER 2 You're Not a Writer, You're a Blogger          

CHAPTER 3 Yes—You Can Blog          

CHAPTER 4 Storytelling          

CHAPTER 5 Dreaming          

CHAPTER 6 Persuading          

CHAPTER 7 Teaching          

CHAPTER 8 Curation          

CHAPTER 9 Discovering Your Blogging Skills          

CHAPTER 10 Why Your Business Should Blog          

CHAPTER 11 Corporate Blogging's Most Common Questions          

CHAPTER 12 The Minimum Viable Blog          

CHAPTER 13 Unlocking Content          

CHAPTER 14 Attracting Readers          

CHAPTER 15 Attracting and Nurturing Blog Contributers          

CHAPTER 16 Making Your Blog Pay          

CHAPTER 17 Rocks in the Road          

CHAPTER 18 Getting Personal          

CHAPTER 19 Breaking Through with a Personal Blog          

CHAPTER 20 Blogging Habits          

CHAPTER 21 Coda          

Index          


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