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If you’re getting ready to start your own company, the last thing you want to have to deal with is learning all the rules and tricks it takes to stand out online. Yet, if you don’t contribute content, then you’re even less likely to get noticed.
Fortunately, there’s hope. Some years back I wrote an article for LinkedIn, describing what I thought were the most problematic issues with innovation. That ended up getting tens of thousands of hits, with people leaving comments like “this is the most useful thing I’ve read on LinkedIn.” It wasn’t my first article, but has been my most successful to date.
I have a few theories as to why that piece took off–it was focused on something I knew about, didn’t include unnecessary SEO words, and I circulated it to groups I was already connected with. It’s the type of thing I might discuss with a friend if we sat down for coffee, vs something I coaxed myself into writing.
Over the years, I’ve tried to balance that genuine approach with the best practices to getting circulation. Some articles took on too much fluff, while other times I was desperate to get anything out there. There were times though, where I put the right words to paper and the clicks and likes shot through the roof.
From those experiences, I took away a handful of lessons that should help you better understand why you might not stand out from the noise, and what to do about it.
Build up your reputation before you build your blog
This is a no-brainer, but if people know who you are they’re more likely to read what you’re writing. I have more to say about data analysis than Kim Kardashian, but if she wrote anything about data today it would get millions of more clicks than anything I could put together. She has a greater deal of awareness (and a ton more followers) but may not have the reputation around excellence in data analysis. If likes are your goal, reputation doesn’t matter. However, you’re probably trying to sell something where reputation plays a part so building the right kind of likes is far more important than the quantity.
The good news is, you don’t have to have millions of Twitter followers in order to build a reputation that will make people want to read what you have to say. Start by getting connected with people within your community, and focus on meaningful exposure vs just collecting views. Take the time to go to industry meetups, connect with the people you meet there on LinkedIn, and focus on groups (online and offline) that will translate directly into revenue.
If you’re going to start a blog, you must continue contributing quality content to it on a regular basis. You don’t have to blog every single day–but you do have to establish a regular posting schedule in order to ensure that you don’t leave your audience disappointed. I personally suggesting blogging 2-3 times a week.
Staying consistent also means consistently engaging with your audience. Interact on social networks like Facebook and Twitter once or twice a day. Thank people who share your article on Twitter. If someone asks you a question in your comments question, take the time to respond to it. People who feel that they have a connection with you are more likely to spread your message than those who view you as just another blogger.
Do your research before you start writing
Spending time reading, absorbing, and learning about the areas you want to write about are critical to providing worthwhile content. Personal experiences are great to speak from, but always write from the area you have a good deal of depth in.
Here’s the process I use to come up with story ideas and put blog posts together:
– Sit down and reflect on topics and/or issues I ran into the prior week (I usually focus on topics related to three different areas of my business: employees, customers, and technology).
– Do research on what industry experts say are best practices for dealing with that particular issue, and reflect on what I did about the issue (regardless of the outcome)
– Write up 2-3 bullet points on how I’d share the information if I was giving a presentation on the topic.
– Write it up in 600-700 words, give it to a couple of people I trust to review honestly, then post.
Doing this 2-3 times a week can take work, but is all content you can reuse in a number of different avenues (presentations, employee meetings, post snips on social media, leverage content for a book over time, etc).
There’s much more to it, of course. Marketing professionals can be worth everything they’re paid and more because of that. However, if you’re just getting going then it’ll be one of the hats you have to wear for a while. We all have something to share with the world so these tips should work to get you started or change up what you’re doing.