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Writing a Blog and Engaging Readers

By Special Guest Greg Balanko-Dickson – Remote Control CEO

I have been writing online since 1998 I can tell you that blogging transformed the way people interact with a website. But there is far more to it than just technology, it is about:

  1. Solving a Problem, Your Readers Do Not Care About You
  2. Know Who You are Writing For
  3. Be Yourself
  4. Ask for Feedback, Ask for Feedback, Ask for Feedback
  5. Jump on the feedback
  6. Watch your Log Reports
  7. Change Your Approach

1. Solving a Problem, Your Readers Do Not Care About You

As I have stated in my “The Complete Six Step Sales Process”, you must change the way you think about writing and selling online – because your customer does not care about you! They care about themselves, their needs.

Customers think of products and services differently than the way they are bundled and sold in the marketplace. They think of their total needs and activities – while companies think of selling a narrow list of products and services.

So when people go to a search engine they are looking for information to solve a problem. So if your content is self-centered and attempts to ‘sell’ it will fail. They come to your website looking for information to solve a problem. Share your own experiences and observations about problems related to how you go about helping customers with your services or products because your customer is looking for solutions to problems.

2. Know Who You Are Writing for, Yourself

There is a big difference between writing for yourself and writing to try and influence or sell something it will have a selfish, sales’ish tone.

As William Zinsser states “Writing is an intensely selfish and personal experience.” You need to keep your reader in mind when writing but your motivation for investing the time and effort it takes to ‘write well’ is a very personal thing.

It is easy to write but hard work to write well. It is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. It is through consistent and persistent editing that your writing will improve and it is hard work. Without having a clear reason for writing the sheer weight of writing well will quickly wear out it’s welcome and you will either short shrift on quality or even quit.

Writing will make you a better communicator and increase your confidence.

3. Be Yourself

If you are clear about who you are writing for ‘being yourself’ will come a lot easier. What does it mean to ‘be yourself ‘ in a business blog? It depends.

Depending on your personality and the market you want to attract – what it means to ‘be yourself’ could vary greatly.

What’s Your Learning Style? Everyone has a preferred learning style. Depending on your learning style you can adjust your approach to organizing yourself and make the writing if your business plan less stressful.

Writing for a business blog is as much about learning as it is about writing. In fact, I will tell you that if you are unable to articulate and get your thoughts down on paper it is because you have gaps in your knowledge about the topic you are writing about. I am not saying that you do not know your business, but that you have not taken the time to articulate and express your knowledge in an organized fashion.

What the Dean of Walt Disney® University can teach you about your learning style…

“We do what we are. We are what we think. What we think is determined by what we learn. What we learn is determined by what we experience and what we experience is determined by what we expose ourselves to and what we do with that experience.” – Mike Vance, founder and Dean of Disney University

The actions we take are predicated on our behaviors and our behaviors are determined by what we learn. Writing for your business blog should be a learning experience. It represents an opportunity to gain a fresh perspective on what is driving or inhibiting your business progress.

A big part of the way you learn is based upon the way you ‘take in’ and process information. Coaching hundreds of business owners I have discovered the reason some of them never start or finish writing a business plan is based partially on a bias toward action and partially on the way they have learned to operate their business.

They feel a sense of guilt because they know they should have a written business plan but often have misconceptions about the value of a business plan and only write one when a banker or investor asks for one. I can see their eyes rolling and head tilting back when they first hear someone ask them to write a business plan.

No one has ever told them that the guilt is inappropriate or explained that what they are experiencing is simply the fear of having to learn something new. The good news is that by identifying your learning style I can help you overcome the roadblocks that prevent you from writing a business plan.

Learning Styles–Everyone Has One: Our learning style is based upon the way that we prefer to ‘take in’ information. This is called VAKOG and VAKOG is simply an acronym for Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Olfactory, and Gustatory.

Everybody has visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and analytical capabilities. It is just that we each have ‘preferred’ learning style, and by gaining a greater understanding of your preference you empower yourself and even prevent common obstacles and roadblocks in the planning process. I write about this in detail in my book “Tips and Traps For Writing an Effective Business Plan” (in stores summer 2006).

4. Ask for Feedback, Ask for Feedback, Ask for Feedback

The reason that I repeated, “Ask for Feedback” three times is that it takes consistent and repeated requests to get actual feedback.

Be specific, tell them exactly what type of feedback you want and why you what it. Lorelle and other bloggers do a good job of this by asking questions at the end of their article or post which I have started to implement on my own site.

5. Jump on the Feedback

The feedback you get on your blog is important because the content and tone of the comments in your blog will teach you more about who is reading your blog and the value they are or are not getting.

When they give you feedback, close the loop by replying to their post. It is an additional opportunity to add value to their experience if you take the opportunity to expand on your original post, answer their questions, or ask them to clarify their previous post if there is something you would like to understand or clarify.

6. Watch your Log Reports

Every web server has a built functionality that tracks where visitors to your weblog came from and what they did on your website. I use Awstats and Google Analytics to track visits to my website and learn more about my readers.

I am interested to learn what people are using in the search engines to arrive at my weblog because it can give me insight into what they think they need and decide if that is something I want to cater to.

I also watch to see which content is viewed most often, the trend in overall traffic, and most importantly the number of pages viewed per visit. The number of pages per visit provides a good indication that they can find the content, and second that they are sticking around to read it. This helps me gauge how I am doing on choosing topics of interest.

The number of returning visitors is also an important statistic. I have been watching this number on my website and now weblog since 1998 and on average 15% would return. I have seen it dip down to less than 8% and the last time I looked it is growing steadily at almost 17%. This trend over a long period of time tells me how much ‘attention’ I am getting in the marketplace and that the visitors find my blog useful and helpful. The best indicator is the amount of feedback and inquiries I get for business coaching.

7. Change and Adjust Your Approach

Based on all the tips mentioned above if you do not learn something and then change or modify your approach you have just wasted every minute spent writing and posting on your blog.

Writing for your blog is no different than business – like an airplane constantly making adjustments in its flight path to compensate for wind and weather – business owners and bloggers must make adjustments too.

Your customers and prospects are always your best teacher. If you listen to their feedback and then try, try again you will eventually hit a combination of content, tone, and navigation that really engages the visitor. That always pays.

In future articles I will talk about my experience with Google Adsense, writing styles for bloggers, the Do’s, Don’ts and Nevers, and my favorite True Confessions of a Blogger and Early Adopter.

What is your greatest obstacle writing for your blog? What would you like to learn? How can I help?

3 Comments

  1. Posted January 10, 2006 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    My obstacle is the content, probably because I’m restricting myself to specific topics. Your blog is useful.

  2. Posted January 11, 2006 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    Dave: when you say your obstacle is content, can you be more specific? Is it a challenge to come up with ideas? Is it a challenge to get started? Is it the process of writing?

    If you were to pick one problem that you would like to solve when writing for your blog, what would it be?

  3. Posted September 27, 2008 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    I was blogging at Live journal for 8 years and had plenty of friends and comments. I switched to wordpress about a year ago and I still have no problem with people visiting my blog but now my challenge seems to be getting people to interact or comment.
    I really like your blog and I think you have a lot here to offer people who blog..just wanted to tell you that I guess. Haha! And..Thank you. :) Maybe you could take a look at my blog and tell me what I could do differently to get people to comment? I respect your opinion. Don’t hold back you can tell me if it just sucks. ;)

    http://divageekdesigns.com

    My live journal – http://ibdreamy.livejournal.com/


18 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Greg is an author, public speaker, and blogger, so he knows of what he speaks. His first post here is called “Writing a Blog and Engaging Readers”. [...]

  2. [...] Writing a Blog and Engaging Readers [...]

  3. [...] Greg has been a guest blogger on this blog several times, adding to the wealth of knowledge on blogging with articles like Writing a Blog and Engaging Readers, True Confessions of Early Adopter Turned Blogger, and Prevent Blog Pollution. He recently took time to also blog about some posts he is especially proud of writing: 1) 7 Steps to Achieving the Results You Want 2) 15 Reasons To Buy a Business vs. Starting from Scratch 3) Forget About Business Productivity – Focus on Business Effectiveness 4) Business Failure and Turnaround 5) It’s Time to Stop Surviving and Focus on Thriving 6) Avoid the News Years Resolutions Trap, and Listen to The Critic 7) How To Write For Your Web Site and Get Visitors To Read 8) Stop Selling, Start Telling, Be Yourself 9) The Mediocrity of Goodness: Inspiring Excellence In Our Kids 10) Genesis of Complacency Manifesto [...]

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  7. [...] I started a series bragging about bloggers I’ve found and have enormous respect for, but that got sidetracked. The first brag was on Greg Balanko-Dickson who so impressed me, he was the first I invited as a guest blogger here. He wrote “When was the last time you read your own blog?”, “Prevent Blog Pollution”, “True Confessions of Early Adopter Turned Blogger”, and “Writing a Blog and Engaging Readers”. I had so much fun with that, I might do that more in the future. Think you might want to be a guest blogger on Lorelle on WordPress? [...]

  8. [...] As if I did not have enough to do, I also guest blog over at Lorelle on WordPress and recently wrote about how to Prevent Blog Pollution, True Confessions of Early Adopter Turned Blogger, Writing a Blog and Engaging Readers. [...]

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