Clients ask this all the time. Hard to answer when you don’t do it yourself. So, here goes...

Should all businesses blog? Only if they have something interesting or useful to say and the wherewithal to do it consistently. Much like office newsletters of the past, blogs, Tweets and Facebook posts tend to trickle down to the person with too much to do and no authority to say “no.” What one of my clients used to call “the stinky fish”… passed around from person to person because no one wants to own it. That’s the biggest pitfall: starting a blog and not continuing it.

Step one: Make it someone’s job. Not a side project, but a core responsibility. It takes time and thought to come up with interesting nuggets of info that people might actually want to read. (This is why I have never blogged in the past. Stay tuned and we’ll see if I can come up with anything.)

Step two: Figure out what your blog’s voice will be - Corporate or chatty? Professional or relaxed? A little personality goes a long way. If it’s dry and boring, forget it.

Step three: Plan ahead. While some blogs may be based on current events or interesting ideas that crop up in the course of business, it’s best to have a list of filler topics ready to go before you start. And a realistic schedule for how often you plan to blog. I would start slow and increase the frequency if the spirit moves you over time. If honestly you think you can only afford to blog once a month, then do that. Just don’t skip a month. Keep doing it. Go to twice a month if topics keep popping up that you want to write about. Just don’t start with a 2x a week schedule and then blow it in your first month.

Step four: Outline your topic areas. Decide among yourselves which topics are fair game and, more important, which are not. For obvious reasons, you probably want to stay away from controversial topics (sex, religion), mocking people (especially anyone who might read your blog), etc. That's another reason I have never blogged: the most interesting stories are the ones I can’t publish. Not if I want to stay in business.

Step five: Write it well. It doesn’t have to be deathless prose* but it should be clear, concise, easy to read, thought-provoking or at least somewhat memorable. It should NOT be blatantly promotional. Who’s going to keep reading that? Well, your competition might… but your clients won’t. No one likes to be sold to all the time. Over the years I’ve learned to ask myself what the audience asks themselves (consciously or unconsciously): What’s in it for me? Keep your focus on what is useful or interesting to your audience. And if you need help with writing it, call me. (Subtle promotion is okay.)

Well, there are a lot of other things to think about when planning a blog, but the next step overrides them all, and that is:

Step six: Keep it short and sweet. So that’s it for now.

* “Deathless prose” - origin unknown, thought to be from around 1590-1600. I love looking up idioms, even though this one was a dead end. I looked up “in my wheelhouse” recently - possible origins include baseball, railroad and naval expressions.