In his book Words at Play, William Espy uses this little four-liner to illustrate some elements of effective writing:
"The qualities rare in a bee that we meet,
In an epigram never should fail.
The body should always be little and sweet,
And a sting should be left in the tail!"
Some of those same elements make for effective blogging as well. "Little and sweet" is a good model. Blogs, like epigrams, don’t necessarily provide lots of detailed information, but do capture concepts and provide examples of your expertise. Remember that your blog is a web log, not a web brochure or web catalogue. A catchy phrase at blog’s end "stings" searchers into clicking through to your website to learn more. Creating just the right "exit line" will be much easier if each blog post is focused on only one idea.
The word "tail" took on a new meaning back in October 2004, when Chris Anderson coined the marketing phrase "the Long Tail" in Wired Magazine. The idea was based on the cost of warehousing and of distributing niche products. As an example, a music retailer has only so much space to store DVD’s and CDs, so a store might choose to carry only the blockbuster hits it knows will sell quickly. (On a chart, the sales of the most popular items would be very high, then trail off in a "long tail" down to those items in which only a few customers were interested.)
A digital music store, by contrast, could sell all the tunes in the catalogue, even the very obscure ones that only a few diehard customers wanted. The whole idea is that, in the digital world, you don’t need big sales numbers to make a big impact. For a small business, serving a niche market, benefit of having a blog can be huge.
This is a tale (or a tail) of two meanings, but there’s a third, very important way in which small business owner or professional practitioner’s business blogging efforts can have a disproportionately large effect on marketing results. As professional website copywriter and blogger Matt Rouge puts it, "Blog posts contain valuable information about your business and your industry. This information may be further used in email and print newsletters, white papers, brochures, and other media."
Done right, a short blog can have a very long tail!