Category Archives: how to blog

Starting a New Blog: Letting Others Know

My friend Brad Merrill took the plunge and started a blog.

It has the potential to be an awesome personal branding tool for himself, and I applaud what he’s doing.

This is the first of two posts where I’m going to give feedback (with his permission) on his nascent strategy.  Today I’ll talk about how he let me (and hundreds of others) know about the blog.

It’s important to let others know you have a blog… not just once but frequently.  Be careful how you do it, however, because no one wants an email each time you write a new blog post (unless they opt in to a newsletter, or something like that).

Here’s Brad’s message I got last night:

There are a few things I like about this email, and perhaps a line or two I don’t care for.  Instead of critiquing the entire thing, I want to focus on TWO things:

The Length.

The length of this message is PERFECT.  If it were any longer I’d get lost, or not read it, or save it for later, or something like that.  If it were shorter I might feel like he’s just spamming me and a million others with “read my blog!”  It is sincere, concise, and very focuses.

The Question in Yellow.

This jumped out at me the most.  At first I thought “COOL, a professional blog” (as opposed to a personal blog).

But then, when I read the question “if you have some things you would like to (to) see me write about,” tell me.

That’s when I thought “where’s the focus?”

Indeed, reading through the email again I realized I had no idea what the theme, or topics, of the blog are. Is it a personal blog? Is it a professional blog?  What exactly does Brad do, or think about?

If Brad could help me understand this, even if it’s just a reminder (some people know, but a reminder doesn’t hurt), he would have used this email as a branding tool, and helped reinforce his personal brand to his contacts (whether they clicked over to the blog or not).

At a minimum he could have said:

I am going to write about ______ and ______.  My last post talks about ethical behavior.

To take it up a notch he could have said something like:

As a professional accountant I see a lot of interesting things.  I’ll write posts about my expertise (sales and use tax and financial accounting) and keep it interesting with stories and examples. I will probably write about my passions, including watch collecting) and try to always tie the posts back to business ideas. Whether you are an accountant or just interested in business, I hope to have relevant content for you.  If you have any ideas or questions, please let me know, as I begin this journey.

In the first email he reinforces his brand.  In the second email he drills down a bit more so people understand more of his breadth and depth… even if they don’t become blog readers they will know what some of his specialties and passions are.

“Where’s the focus” was my first thought, the second thought was: missed branding opportunity.

Next post I’ll critique his second blog post.

Bloggers: Ready for hate?

I came across an article in the online San Francisco Chronicle titled 20 habits of highly effective job seekers.  This was written based on Ford Myers stuff… I have met Ford a few times at conferences and we’ve communicated outside of that.  Nice guy.

I didn’t read his article (too long for my attention span), but I skimmed it to see if he mentioned JibberJobber again (that would have been cool!).  He didn’t 🙁

I was interested in the 60+ comments the article got, though… they were… scathing!  Hardly anything good from those comments!  From accusations of being self-serving to “utter twaddle,” from BS to “worst article I ever read in my life…”

I’ve felt for a long time that getting comments from a newpaper article compared to comments on a blog is night and day… I don’t know who is reading and commenting on the regular articles but if you read it too long you’ll lose all faith in humanity.  These people are mean, and cruel, and unforgiving.

And, they can provide an opportunity for growth as a blogger.

From the feedback I see in Ford’s article I see a grand opportunity to tighten the writing and message.  Instead of 20 points, how about go with Covey’s example and do 7 habits?

Instead of calling these “strategies,” maybe they should be called mindsets (many have to do with attitude), or tactics?

How about drilling down on some of them and going into more depth, instead of just presenting them at a high level?

As blogs become more commonplace, and bloggers get their material in more traditional media, you better:

  1. Be ready for scathing, hateful, unintelligent comments and feedback (and a few nasty stalkers),
  2. Figure out how to improve the quality of your writing (grammar, spelling, word choice, etc.),
  3. Ensure the message is high quality,
  4. Figure out how to not be self-promotional… or not overdo it.

What do you think?  Do bloggers need to step up (especially when not writing on their own blog)?

You don’t “write a blog” … #petpeeve

My heavens, every time I hear this I cringe.

“I wrote a blog…”

No, you didn’t, you newbie!  You wrote a BLOG POST.

You don’t write an envelope, do you?  NO.  You write a letter.

“Hold on, I’m writing an envelope to grandma!”

Get it?

Blog vs. blog post.

If you blog, learn the difference.

(now, someone find me a ladder so I can get off the soapbox :p)

How to write a FREAKING AWESOME blog post

There are probably a million ideas on how to write, and how to write a blog post, and how to write a freaking awesome blog post.

I’ll share just one… since it’s on my mind. I don’t remember where I heard this but it made a ton of sense to me.  Before I share it I want to say why I think it is brilliant.

One reason I write is to develop a community. One measure of community is the discussion.  A way to gauge the discussion is by the comments.  A “comments” metric is “Number of comments.”

I think blogs that have comments show they have (a) readers and (b) a community.

So, how do you write a blog post that gets comments (perhaps that should have been the title of this post, which really should become a series)?


Let your readers finish the other 20% in the comments.

Think about that – if you write enough of the post, but leave it open for discussion, as opposed to making a super-tight conclusion, you don’t give your readers much to comment about.

When I heard this I thought it was absolutely brilliant.  It takes skill to write that 80% and not sound aloof… and I think by nature we want to complete things, but if you want to generate discussion and create community, make sure you don’t say all that should be said.

I’m wrapping it up here – tell me in the comments what YOU think a FREAKING AWESOME blog post entails 🙂

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