All About Blogging – Part 2: How to Write a Blog Post
By Christine Gertz
If so few people blog or read blogs, is it important to blog? Will you or your organization get any benefit out of blogging? If you read Robert Bly, the author of Blog Schmog, there is little or no monetary benefit to blogging just lots of aggravation. So why would anyone want to blog?
- It’s cheap and it saves paper. If you currently have a website, or offer courses through an online platform such as WebCT, it is possible that your package came with a blogging tool that you have not turned on or were unaware of, like it was added to your package as part of an annual upgrade. If you have a Gmail account, you can easily create a free Blogger blog in about five minutes.
- If readers subscribe, they hear about you as often as you post, which is good for marketing.
- It’s a good place to accumulate content and store relevant information. I use my note-taking blog as a portable, annotated bibliography.
- There are tools you can use to disseminate your posts and products. Many online networking sites—alas, not LinkedIn, yet—have applications you can download to import your blog, so you don’t have to move everything to their platform.
- Replace some other product that is either out-dated or not earning you any Return on Investment (ROI). Print publications do not move with the same velocity as they once did and storing them is a pain. However, if you are not ready to move away from your current marketing effort, don’t run a second service, like a blog, at the same time. It’s a waste of effort. Pick one or the other.
If you decide to blog, it is a good idea to have a specific purpose in mind as well as a schedule. If you are a lone blogger, posting every day can be a huge commitment, so you might consider joining a group blog. In a larger office, types of posts can be spread out according to the job duties or specialties of the staff members. Blogging takes time but it has one huge advantage: the actual cost of the blog is much lower than distributing the same content in a weekly newsletter—even if that newsletter is electronic. If you are a lone practitioner or working in a for-profit office, you can use your blog to stimulate sales, get revenue from online advertising or sell products from your site (see JibberJobber as an example).
Professional blogging is a tremendous amount of work. You have to commit to post, write to a certain standard and on a certain schedule so readers know to check your blog. Once you know how, how often and how much, just what will you write? There are several different types of blog posts that you can prepare.
How-to articles: Instructions or recipes, such as, how to write a career objective or how to cold call. How-to posts are the most time consuming because you have to research the information—unless you are reworking some of your older how-to files. They can also be the most rewarding to your clients—and more likely to be discovered in a search—since most Internet users are turning to the web to find out how to do something. Example: Career Hub, Essential Steps to Take in Blowing Your Own Horn, http://www.careerhubblog.com/main/2008/02/the-essential-s.html
Advice: You describe a subject or common problem and suggest ways to deal with the issue. These types of articles are not time sensitive, though you can use a current event to illustrate the problem, and, like how-to, many people turn to the web for advice or comfort. Example: Jobacle, You or Boss: Who’s at Fault?, https://www.jobacle.com/blog/you-or-boss-whos-at-fault.html
Reviews: Reviewing products, such as books, devices and online tools is a mainstay of blogging. However, to do an accurate review you actually have to finish the book or test the product. It is possible to group similar services, like vertical search engines or job boards and rank and rate them in a review, but the testing and review writing takes time. Example: 800-CEO-READ blog, writes about business books and trends, http://800ceoread.com/
Announcements: You can mention a new staff member, an upcoming event, describe the successes of a previous event or release a product. If you know what’s coming, you can have these posts drafted and ready to go. It is also a good place to release a new, personal product that you are selling or to tell people about projects you are working on. Example: Jibber Jobber Blog, I’m on LinkedIn Now What? Update, http://www.jibberjobber.com/blog/2007/09/03/update-on-im-on-linkedin-now-what/
Commentary and reflection: You can respond to news stories, other blog posts or to a timely industry trend. The one problem with this type of post is that you will have to post within a day of the original if your posts are to remain current and popular content in relation to that issue. Common commentary posts include responding to employment numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics or Statistics Canada, talking about jobs and careers in relation to current issues such as climate change or the rising cost of gasoline, to name a few. Example: Chronicle Careers, On Hiring, http://chronicle.com/
Most blogs provide a mix of the types of posts listed above, and the individual posts are mishmashes of these genres. The list was not meant to be comprehensive but inspiring. Used properly, blogging can replace an ineffective marketing or information sharing service—like a magazine—or allow the solo practitioner to create inexpensive marketing materials. With cross-platform tools, such as Facebook applications, or mixtures of tools amongst one online community, like Google Tools, blogging is and will continue to thrive for several more years.
For more information on blogging for business, check out Business and Blogging,http://www.businessandblogging.com/ or Better Business Blogging,http://www.betterbusinessblogging.com/. Suggested Reading: No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason.
Christine Gertz is the Library and Information Specialist at CAPS, University of Alberta. She has written and presented on the uses for technology in career and student services. Her note-taking blog is available at www.co-agitating.blogspot.com/ and she is a very bad blogger.