Five Tips To Build a Successful Blog Program

Blogging looks so very easy, doesn’t it? You set up some free blogging software in a matter of minutes, type your insights into a post and hit “publish.” And success!

Not!

Blogging is identical to gardening (save for the smell of fertilizer). You must lay out your garden, choose your seeds, plant, nurture and harvest your content.

Here are five crucial tips to making that blogging garden grow.

1. Set a publishing schedule; make it realistic. You have to have a schedule to help you feed the blogging beast. But more importantly, you need a schedule to get you into a rhythm of sourcing, writing, reviewing, revising and publishing. Great blog posts require thought and effort. And getting into a routine will help strengthen this discipline in your team. A schedule also makes it more difficult for you to skip a post because you’re “too busy” with other things. You either blog regularly or you don’t. Readers will come to expect this rhythm and reward you with their clicks.

2. Always include a call to action. This can be as simple as driving readers to a more in-depth piece of content (a white paper for example). Remember that a blog post is part of a larger digital content ecosystem and you need to reflect that as your posts grow in number

3. Nurture your audience. When someone comments on a post, he or she is starting a conversation with you. Respond to build a relationship with that person. Plus, when other people see that you value readers’ insights, they may be more inclined to stay on your site and contribute to the conversation.

4. Respect the reader’s time. Many bloggers are enthralled with their own words. The reader generally isn’t. If she’s on your site, it’s generally because she’s looking for answers to a question or for some specific information. Write cleverly, but get to the point. Readers today scan digital content quickly looking for what they need; if they want to wade through florid prose, they’ll pick up a print book or fire up their Kindle. Use bullets for important points and don’t hesitate to bold-face phrases you want to amplify. This helps the scan process. For extra points, spend some time on Jakob Nielsen’s site. He’s a renowned expert on web usability and readability.

5. Respect your metrics. Connect a tool like Google Analytics to your blog and spend time reviewing your posts, how many people clicked on them and for how long. Where is your audience located? What content did they jump to after a post or before reading it? Use this information over time to optimize your blogs, how you write them, when you post them.

 

Compound Words - Not as straightforward as we may think

Have you ever been drafting a presentation, a press release or email and wonder if the compound word you're using is one word or two?  After writing for a while even the most simple words tend to look incorrect and spell check does not always clear up this question. I’m talking about such words as checkup, timeframe, or placeholder.

As it turns out, the rules for compound words aren’t straightforward. (Or is that straight forward?)

“Compound words generally develop over time through use. As people continue to use two or more previously unrelated words together, the combination gains acceptance. Unfortunately, this progression doesn't follow a consistent, regular pattern. Word experts can't even agree on rules for compound words,” says the website plainlanguage.gov.

A common pattern is that two words — fire fly, say — will be joined by a hyphen for a time — fire-fly — and then be joined into one word — firefly.

This answers the question of why style guides differ on whether compound words such as health care and website are one word or two. The only way to be certain is to look it up in the dictionary (though dictionaries differ on some terms), but here are some guidelines, should you ask yourself at some point is this one word or two?

There are three forms of compound words:

the closed form, in which the words are melded together, such as firefly, secondhand, softball, childlike, crosstown, redhead, keyboard, makeup, notebook;

the hyphenated form, such as daughter-in-law, master-at-arms, over-the-counter, six-pack, six-year-old, mass-produced;

and the open form, such as post office, real estate, middle class, full moon, half sister, attorney general.

 

Compound nouns are usually written as one word.

Our last editor had a breakdown over serial commas.
What is the payoff for having a house style guide?

Compound verbs are generally written as two.

Please break down your last paragraph into shorter sentences.
I hope to pay off my student loans by June.

Compound adjectives and adverbs are very often written as two words or with a hyphen.

The cake landed upside down. (adverb)
The upside-down painting confused us all. (adjective)

The exception to this rule: Never hyphenate phrases that are created with adverbs ending in –ly.

Our offices were bigger in the recently-renovated building.
April had the dazed look of a newly hired media relations professional.
 

This does bring the question of when and how to use a hyphen’s.  That will be another blog post.

Creating awareness for your company and products

Why do you want to create and maintain awareness? So that your company or product comes to mind when people have a problem that you can solve for them. Having your logo plastered everywhere won’t help if they don’t know what you do or how well you do it. Here’s a quick outline of what you need to consider:

·        Realize that building and maintaining awareness is a constant process, not a one-shot deal.

·        Set goals for your awareness-building program – e.g., educate the market about what your company does, educate the market about the advantages of your product over previous solutions or competitive solutions, generate interest about your solution in a new market segment…

·        Agree on the key message you want to convey and no more than three supporting messages. (Often the most time-consuming part of the process.)

·        Plan how you want to reach your audience – e.g., user forums, blog posts, technical articles, interviews with top executives, webinars, tutorials, exhibiting at conferences, speaking at conferences…

·        Plan how often you want to reach your audience, considering bandwidth restraints within the company.

·        Decide how you will measure results – e.g., increased number of followers on LinkedIn company page, more readers spending longer on your website, higher registration for webinars, more followers on Twitter.

Remember that, since there is no specific call to action, results will build slowly. As well as increased followers, etc., you are likely to see more comments posted when you blog or are mentioned in articles, an increased response rate to ads and direct marketing, more traffic at conferences, and better response to Sales’ cold calls.