Trying for Incomplete in Blogging for Business

one piece of a whole“In blogging, it’s important to blog about a particular topic without being complete,” says Lou Dubois in Inc. “If it’s conversational as a blog is supposed to be, you get a chance to say one thing or one idea, and then it’s your customer’s turn to talk or respond.”

“Successful bloggers are focused on their audience and readers as they move out from behind the podium,” says Liz Strauss. “They come in with a beginner’s mind and aren’t afraid to say ‘I’m learning’ as they talk to others and improve.”

That “beginner’s mind” thing really struck a chord with me.  Nine-plus years ago, when I was an experienced writer but very new to blogging, I would attend seminars, read blogs and books about blog content writing and then share that material with readers even as I was learning it myself. (And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is “the rest of the story” of the Say It For You blog.)

The idea of blogging about your topic (your business or practice) without being complete is an important one on several counts:

  • You cover one aspect of the topic, then link to another blog content writer’s comments about the subject you’re covering, showing that you stay in touch with others in your industry or profession.
  • You leave room to cover other aspects of the topic in future blog posts.
  • Your readers are “learning along with you,” rather like a travel agent who’s experiencing a location for the first time, along with her group.
  • Readers have reason to “put in their two cents”.

The “beginner’s mind” template might appear at first to be a direct contradiction to a piece of advice I often offer to clients and blog content writers, which is to establish themselves as thought  leaders in their field.

Actually, there’s no contradiction.  As business owners or professional practitioners (or perhaps as the blog content writers for those clients), we need to come across as “real”.  Yes, we have knowhow and experience to share, but, along with our readers, we learn something new every day.


The Royal “We” in Business Blogging

“When Roman consuls spoke of public issues, they did so on behalf of all those with whom they shared power, and Royal Gold Crownso they used the royal pronoun ‘we” instead of the singular,” Doug Lennon explains in The Little Book of Answers.  Then King Richard I began to use the “royal we”, implying that he was speaking for his subjects as well as for himself. It’s improper, Lennon cautions, for nonroyals to use the plural.  (That’s why, when Margaret Thatcher referred to herself as “we”, she incurred nothing but ridicule.)

Why, then, do I so like for Indianapolis freelance blog content writers to express themselves as “we”?

  • Using first person pronouns (“I” and “we”) helps keep the blog conversational rather than either academic-sounding or sales-ey.
  • “We” shows the people behind the posts, introducing the personality of the business owner or team ready to serve customers.
  • Using “we” allows statements of opinion, establishing the business owner or professional as a thought leader:  “At ——-.we believe…”  “Here at ———-, we always…”  “At ______. We’re convinced that….”
  • We freelance blog content writers “speak” not for ourselves, but on behalf of the companies and professional practices we’re marketing. Richard I spoke for his subjects; we’re writing for our clients.

On the other hand, shouldn’t content creators learn anything from the icy reception Margaret Thatcher earned by using the “we” word? Yes, but it’s got little to do with putting ourselves – or our clients – out there as royalty.  In fact, all content writing for marketing blogs is second person-driven, meaning that it’s all about the “you”s (the targeted readers who are the potential customers) and their wants and needs.’

The royal “we” in business blogging just keeps things up close and personal!


Serving Up Different Varieties of Posts in Your Business Blog

I don’t know about keeping up with the Heinz 57 standard, but business blog posts do come in different varieties. It’s generally a Close-up of old armaments in male handsgood idea to toggle back and forth among those varieties over time, just to keep repeat visitors engaged (and yourself from getting bored).

Rich Brooks of certainly concurs.  In fact, Brooks suggests blog content writers add some of the following “arrows” to their blogging “quiver”:

  • How-to’s and tutorials
  • Resources and link lists
  • Cheat sheets
  • To-do’s
  • Reviews
  • Controversial posts
  • Interviews
  • Series
  • Case studies
  • Stats
  • Daily roundups
  • Breaking news
  • Personal stories

Rather than asking yourself, each time you’re ready to blog, “Now, which variety should I use today?”, I teach newbie content providers, the blog posts for any company, professional practice, or organization can be planned around key themes.  Those themes are fixed ideas that form the basis for blog posts.  Then, what you’re doing in any one post is filling in new details, examples, and illustrations. Having this “quiver” of formats from which to select a style that fits then becomes quite a help for any business blogger.

The other thing about having a variety is that (as I know from having been a teacher for many years), readers have different learning styles and different preferences.  That’s why it’s such a good idea for marketing blogs to use a variety of styles and materials.

Have YOU other “arrows” to contribute to our collective blog writers’ quiver?


Blogging to Tell Them What to Think About

Thinking manHara Estroff Marano, writing in Psychology Today, says she won’t tell you what to think, but will tell you what to think about.  While in this article the psychologist is offering food for thought in the sphere of dating and self-motivation, I couldn’t help but love that line of hers, realizing how very apropos it is for us business blog content writers.

In fact, this is the very point I often stress in corporate blogging training sessions – whether you’re blogging for a business, for a professional practice, or for a nonprofit organization, you need to voice an opinion, a slant, on the information you’re serving up for readers. In other words, blog posts, to be effective, can’t be just compilations; you can’t just “aggregate” other people’s stuff and make that be your entire blog presence.

On the other hand, if you, as a business owner or professional practitioner, try telling people what to think, that’s a surefire way to lose friends and customers in a hurry. Yes, your blog is your “podium”, meaning you get to showcase your business so customers will want you to be the one to provide them with the product or the service they need. But they need to arrive at that point as a result of their own thinking.  Dr. Marano hit the nail on the head – don’t tell readers what to think; give them all the facts they need to think about.

How can blogs help potential clients and customers make better, sometimes complex, decisions?

  • By suggesting questions readers can ask themselves while choosing among many options. (Do they want ease of use? Current functionality? Future capabilities?)
  • By “mapping”, meaning showing how choices are related to consequences.  How much sooner will your mortgage get paid off if you add $100 each month to your payment. How should the prospect feel about the purchase (Relief? Trust? Premier status?)
  • By offering easy ways to make choices, so that the decisions are not pressure-packed.

You might say the art of blogging consists of supplying facts, and then putting those facts in context.  As bloggers, we’re giving them the raw materials to think about, but we need to go one step further, demonstrating why those facts matter, suggesting ways readers can use the information for their own benefit.

To the woman concerned that the man she’s been dating has been legally separated for the past twenty years, Marano suggests, “Could it be that your online friend values clinging to the comfort of the status quo?”

What are you giving your readers to think about?