It may surprise you to learn that as a ‘more occasionally than I would like’ blogger and lets face it ‘occasionally lapsed’ blogger (according to my chum Robert Rose)  I am asked for advice about blogging, but this week I was.

I’ve read so many tips about blogging over the years, some I’ve learned from and many I should have paid attention to and my good intentions have gone the way of that new years resolution to get fit or lose a little weight – but when you are asked for advice, you can’t just say “Google it” – so perhaps it’s OK to share a tip or two of my own.

My first tip, is to think about why.

This probably applies to anything you are doing in the digital world, whether personally or for business and whether you are thinking of a company blog or a personal blog – the why is important.

It’s important because at some point you are going to find yourself looking for motivation to sustain the investment in your blog (even if that investment is just your time) and as part of that you are going to look at measuring its success.

Or perhaps this will help you kill the idea – if for example your “why” is to look professional or down with the cool kids and you don’t think you will maintain the motivation – a dead blog would work against your ‘why’ and ‘no blog’ could be a better strategy.

Assuming you press on –  you will need motivation – it’s broadly quoted that 95% of blogs are inactive and that a large percentage fail within the first three to six months. It’s hard to quantify this number with recent data, but this article in the New York Times from 2009 says:

According to a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs, only 7.4 million out of the 133 million blogs the company tracks had been updated in the past 120 days. That translates to 95 percent of blogs being essentially abandoned, left to lie fallow on the Web, where they become public remnants of a dream — or at least an ambition — unfulfilled.

So, motivation will matter.

The “why” is going to set you on your course, determine the kind of content you need to create and the audience you want to build – it will be important to remember why you started the thing in the first place to enable you to maintain momentum.

As you look at your objective for your blog, you should also start with the “who” – who are you hoping will read this?

Professionally as a content/product marketer I start with the who – who is the buyer of this product, what is the persona of the influencer, what are they interested in, where do they hang out online (etc etc) and you should give some thought to this. It will shape the kind of content you need to write, the style you need to write it in and where you need to promote it.

Talking of style – if it’s a personal blog you need to decide who you are.

We all have multiple facets to ourselves that we pull out depending on the context. If you are in the pub with your chums, sitting on the floor with your kids or presenting at an industry event – you are different – so, which are you going to be on your blog?

I am not suggesting you aren’t authentic, but when you write imagine the context; is it the board room or the pub?

I’ve written about personal branding before, I have a low bar and it’s not wanting to look like a total cock. I also have advice for you if it’s a company blog in Be Yourself or Find Someone Else Who is.

So, the “why” determines the measurement, the motivation and the me

I thought maybe it would be helpful if I share my “why” and how it relates to how I measure, motivate myself and decided on “the me” for this blog.

So, why do I write this blog?

  • For people to get to know the ‘professional me’ betterI look at this blog as an extension of my LinkedIn, Twitter and about.me pages, I also think it’s kinda mandatory to have a blog in my business.
  • To be a better practitioner. Maintaining this blog gives me a connection with the tools, community, techniques and hands-on experience of the coal face of content marketing. Although I may not always follow all that best practice here; how can I preach about the value of corporate blogging, if I don’t do it myself?
  • For the love of writing. I like to write, maybe ‘love’ is too strong a word as sometimes it’s hard. But, I want to be a better writer and it’s a muscle I want to exercise more. I like the process, the research and the flow you get into when it’s really working. I am delighted you are reading this, if it’s useful or strikes a chord, even better. But – like an exercise bike that doesn’t go anywhere, just doing it, is good for me.

What does “knowing the why” mean for me?

  • Measurement – The practical purpose of knowing why means I am not focused on search engine traffic and I am blissfully free of worrying about page views as a way of measuring success. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the traffic, it’s just I am not tied to the numbers (and whatever discouragement this might bring). My success is when this blog greases the wheels of an online or “in real life” conversation – in which case I don’t need thousands of people to read this, just the right few.
  • Motivation – Aside from it not looking terribly good to have a decaying blog hanging off my Twitter  and LinkedIn handles (my definition of who), my motivation is that I want to write, even if it’s just for me and I want to keep my toe in the blogging waters.
  • Me – Who am I here? I see this blog as the projection of my professional persona – so I swear only a little bit and don’t constantly talk about cocktails and the weather like I do on Facebook. 

Clearly if your objective is to raise your profile as a practitioner or build a business, these are going to be different for you. However, once you have all this figured out; you commit to the writing, stick to plan and be consistent in your style

Easy – right?

Well no, even with my low threshold for success I need to commit to maintaining this blog. It’s the same for the corporate and thought leadership blogs I’ve been involved with and I’ll share more of those experiences here at some point.

I hope this helps – if you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments.