Business Blogging May Not Take a Village, But it Does Take a Team

Even after playing together for more than fifty years (I learned from Steve & Jack’s Home News), the Rolling Stones musicians still understand the value of practicing together, committing to two months of rehearsal before every tour. Why? Practicing together helps them reconnect with each other’s rhythm and understand each member’s distinctive roles.

Running a business blog takes commitment and teamwork as well. In fact, as we Say It For You blog content writers embark on our 13th year, one thing continues to become clear: Whenever things do not work out as planned, it almost always has to do with lack of coordination among the team members:

  • the blog writer
  • the webmaster
  • the business owner or practitioner
  • the staff of the client’s business or practice

As blog content writers, we are interpreters. Effective blog posts must go from information-dispensing to offering the business owner’s (or the professional’s, or the organizational executive’s) unique perspective on issues related to the search topic.

What that means is that owners and professional practitioners have got to be involved in the process of producing content, even after they’ve engaged our services; they can’t “go to sleep” and cede control of the creative process to us. The webmaster has to work together with the blog writer to provide the optimization and analysis that make the content “work”. The front-line employees who deal with the customers daily must be involved.

Hiring professional bloggers is not a “wake me up when it’s over” proposition – just as is true of the Rolling Stones, reconnecting with each other’s knowledge and rhythm is what makes the material come to life. Not only should there be periodic team meetings to discuss content, it is not a good idea for me and my team to take on writing assignments without insisting the business also invest in properly designed landing pages and website optimization. When blog writing is not coordinated with email and social media the results are simply not likely to be what the business owner expects.

Business blogging may not take a village, but it certainly does take a team!


Business Blogging With Round-Up Posts – Part 1 of 2

Authorunlimited editor Cathy Presland calls them Best-of-the-Web Round-Ups, referring to blog posts consisting of “lists of the best websites, You Tube clips, or any other kind of web content that relates to your topic”, and round-up posts are great way, she advises, for business blog content writers to demonstrate the breadth of your own knowledge and your perspective on a topic.

Round-ups needn’t be confined to websites, Presland adds.  They might consist of:

  • Favorite Facebook pages to follow
  • Best software or apps
  • Best blogs you’ve read in the past month
  • Favorite personalities in your area of expertise
  • Top tips from around the Internet  (this very Say It For You post is an example of that.)

This week, I’m doing a round-up of noteworthy observations about blogging:

“Video continues to be a growth market, as well. But, let’s not forget about the words. Not just our tweets and status updates, but our thoughts… the longer pieces of content.”

– Mitch Joel in “The End of Blogging”


“Not promoting your blog is like renting a theater to stage your one-man show and then refusing to put up flyers because you don’t want anyone to show up.”

– Michelle Weber in “Should Your Blog Be on Facebook?”


“Do you like me? I mean, you know, in a platonic, Facebook sort of way. Well, you should. Moreover, if you’re a blogger, you should have a Facebook page — it’s a great way to get your content out to a larger audience and engage with new people.”

– Jeff Goins in “Why You Need a Facebook Page”

“Highly effective bloggers have an established writing and publishing schedule that they adhere to with fervor. They don’t write and post when they feel like it. They write and publish according to a schedule that helps them to both remain on track and accountable and build anticipation among their audience.”

– Dwaynia Wilkerson in “7 Habits of Highly Effective Bloggers”
Blog writers are very much like museum curators, I often explain. We “gather” pieces of art and then help the visitors understand what they are seeing.  On behalf of our business owner of professional practitioner clients, we add “spin” to the curated material, showcasing the wisdom and expertise of our clients’ business or practice!


Ohio River Lessons About Business Blogging

My two-day get-away with friends to historic Madison, Indiana wasn’t supposed to be about business, and it wasn’t. Later, though, recalling the different guided tours we’d taken, I realized I’d had blog content writing on my mind after all. While learning interesting facts about how a telegram saved Madison from demolition and how Kentucky “owns” the river up to Indiana shoreline, I’d learned a lot of dos and don’ts about presenting information to a group.

Tour guides, remember, have the benefit of addressing audiences that have demonstrated they are already interested in the subject matter. In the same way, online searchers arrive at your blog precisely because they have a need for the very kinds of information, products, and services you provide!  But in both cases, now that the searchers/tourists have arrived, it’s up to the guide/blog content writers to keep them engaged, taking them to someplace new in their knowledge and thinking!

Our Lanier Mansion tour guide understood the “one-message-per-post” rule I teach when training blog content writers: in each post, have a razor-sharp focus on just one story, one idea, one aspect of your business. In each room of the mansion, our guide would point out just one interesting item – the parlor had “windows you could walk through”, while the winding staircase had the signature medallion of the architect embedded in it.

The guide, who told us he works for the Indiana History Center, spoke with personal pride, using first person pronouns – “we” will be finishing the renovation of this wing, “we” had to find…. I stress the importance of first person business blog writing because of its one enormous advantage – it shows the people behind the posts, revealing the personality of the business owner or of the team standing ready to serve customers.

Our Rockin’ Thunder jet boat tour guide, Captain Paul, was likewise knowledgeable and passionate. Because the noise of the engine made it impossible to hear while the boat was moving, Paul needed to stop periodically, cut the engine, and then point out interesting facts about Ohio River and Kentucky River history. In effect, in his presentation, the Captain was forced to obey one of the cardinal rules for successful business blogging, namely frequency.  Blog posts provide a steady stream of “sound bites” – little bits of different, interesting, and informative content.

One tidbit of information we learned on that tour was this: Bridges over the Kentucky River are painted blue.  Why? The land donor was a University of Kentucky football fan!

As a business blogging trainer, I urge bloggers to demonstrate why the facts they’re offering might matter to readers, suggesting ways readers might use that information for their own benefit. Sometimes, though, tidbits of information can be so intrinsically interesting, it’s worth including them even if they are not actionable.  Why? To add variety and fun to your content, and to demonstrate your own knowledge in your field.

As blog content writers, we’re the “tour guides” for our readers.  Sure, before they arrived, they were already interested in what we know and what we know how to do. Now that they’ve arrived, it’s up to us to take them to new “places”.







The Logic and Logistics of Blogging for Business

Logic on Multicolor Puzzle.
“Writing is very much about the order of ideas presented and the emphasis given to them,” Brandon Royal explains in The Little Red Writing Book. There are two general things readers expect:

  1. to see ideas unfold logically
  2. to have writers give the most important ideas the most coverage

There are different “floor plans” for pieces of writing, including a chronological structure, where you discuss the earliest events first, then move forward in time, and an evaluative structure, in which you discuss the pros and cons of a concept. Different blog posts might use different “floor plans.” But no matter which approach, readers will expect to see those two things – logical presentation, and emphasis on the most important ideas.

“If your presentation is clear and structured, it will be useful and entertaining; if it is disorganized, your work will be confusing and of little value,” is the caution Lanterna Education offers its International Baccalaureate students. Laterna recommends the following sequence for students giving oral presentations:

  • Introduce the overall theme
  • Explain how each key idea will relate back to that overall theme
  • Explain what your audience should know by the end of the class
  • Review each idea, explaining how it taught something new to the class

In answer to the question “How long do users stay on Web pages?” Jakob Nielson of the Nielsen Norman Group says the following:  Users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer.

“As users rush through Web pages, they have time to read only a quarter of the text on the pages they actually visit (let alone all those they don’t). So, unless your writing is extraordinarily clear and focused, little of what you say on your website will get through to customers,” Nielson warns, offering sobering stats that bear out the importance of the two items on Brandon Royal’s reader expectation list.

Is it all about logic and logistics! What about emotional appeal? Isn’t that what makes readers take action? Certainly, but first fulfill reader expectations of order and emphasis, then give heart to the writing with anecdotes, metaphors, stories, and humor!


What Do Blog Readers Need Out of Our Blog Content

Carla Hill

What do we need at work?

That’s the question Carla Hill, responsible for leading Business Furniture’s New Business Development teams, knows marketers must be able to answer.  Hill’s years as a learning and development consultant have helped her put together the following list of what each employee needs in the workplace:

  • people who help me
  • tools
  • information
  • exchange of ideas

The list of what blog readers need is nothing if not parallel to the Business Furniture list:

People who help me –
Never forget this one truth: People want to do business with people, and readers relate to stories about people, not to facts and statistics.  Let tales of people helping people tell the story of your company, your products, and of the services you provide.

Tools –
Readers want to know that you and your organization can teach them something.  “Briefly,” says Jim Connolly of  Jim’s Marketing Blog, “here’s how content marketing works: You build and market a website and stock it with free information that has real value to your prospective clients.”

Information –
Use business blogs to offer readers free information that has value to your targeted
readers. You can do that “whilst offering them the opportunity to purchase goods and services which are closely linked to the information you give away,” advises Jim
Connally in Jim’s Marketing Blog.

Exchange of ideas –
Whether it’s business-to-business blog writing or business to consumer blog writing, , you must first take a stand on the issue yourself, using various tactics to bolster that stance in the eyes of readers. Then, through including guest posts, citing material expressing the opposing viewpoint, and inviting readers comments, blog marketers have a chance to facilitate productive exchanges of ideas.

You might be composing blog content for your own business or professional practice or doing blog marketing for clients.  In either case, before posting your latest creation, ask yourself:

Am I giving the readers what they need out of this blog?