Though blogging provides significant business benefits (e.g. increasing a firm’s credibility and visibility in search), developing a blog isn’t the right move for every organization. The web is littered with abandoned blogs; according to Technorati, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs it tracks have been updated in the past four months, and just 50,000 to 100,000 blogs generate most of the page views. To illustrate these figures visually:
That’s a lot of writers trying to join a very small club. How do you get there? To make a blog really worthwhile—to join that elite 0.08% of successful blogs—requires (at least) the following six characteristics.
Curiosity. Successful business bloggers are interested in and knowledgeable about much more than just their own products and/or services. They study the bigger picture, keep up on trends, understand their customers’ issues and enjoy learning and sharing industry knowledge.
Passion. This is what makes a blog not just informative, but interesting. It brings life to the writing. It’s also a prerequisite for the persistence needed to keep writing, and making it interesting, long enough for the blog to really start getting traction and succeeding.
Organized thought. Whether you are sharing information primarily through writing, audio (podcasting) or video blogging, it all starts with the ability to tell a story, weave a narrative, or present an idea in an organized and coherent fashion.
Social skills. What separates blogs from other forms of writing (white papers, articles, e-books, etc.) is the interactivity–blogs are meant to be conversations, not monologues. Good bloggers are social creatures; they link to other bloggers, write copy that attracts links, leave relevant comments on other blogs, respond to comments on their own blogs, and interact with other bloggers through other social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter. The result is that other blogs and social networking sites become productive sources of blog traffic, as well as being helpful for search.
Patience. Even if you use best practices for a successful blog launch, building traffic still takes time. Why? The three primary sources of traffic to any website are direct visits, referrals (links) from other websites, and search. When a blog is new to the world, it doesn’t have high awareness to draw a lot of direct traffic, high credibility to attract links, or loads of content for search engines to index. It takes time to build that. Many bloggers fail at this point because they get discouraged and abandon their blogs. Many others succeed simply by being too stubborn to quit.
Commitment. To be successful, a blog must be continually updated and constantly promoted. This isn’t a “toe in the water” exercise (unless your plan is to join the 94.4% of abandoned blogs that unattractively litter the online landscape). Blogging is wasted effort unless you are willing to put in the time, even (especially) in the early ramp-up days when traffic seems disappointingly low, even when a post falls flat with readers, even when you expect tons of comments and get only a few (or none).
Blogging isn’t for everyone. But for those with passion, curiosity and determination, they can pay off by showcasing your company’s expertise, building its brand image and enhancing its search visibility in ways no ordinary corporate website can.