22 Dec 2008

Six Kickass Writing Resources for Bloggers

Jim believes in the power of blogs.  He started JimBoykin.com back in 2005, he hired me in October to create the We Build Pages blog (holla!) and, after taking a look at some of the recent contracts, I know he especially loves recommending blogs to clients.

If you’ve spent any time in the corporate blogging world, you’ll see that most corporate blogs kind of suck. Two weeks ago we heard that only 16 percent of people believe what they read on corporate blogs. There’s a reason for that.  Most corporate blogs are doing it wrong.  They’re posting their article section in reverse chronological order and calling it a blog.  That’s not a blog.  That’s you looking dumb. Wave to everyone watching.

The way I see it, I have two courses of action as a blogger: I can look at the number of corporate blogs failing and get upset OR I can see it as a huge opportunity for the clients of We Build Pages. I choose to focus on the latter.

The sinister side of Lisa almost likes that businesses are ruining their “blogs”. It means that by encouraging our clients to start blogs and then teaching them how to blog correctly €“ we give them an enormous opportunity to grow their business and increase their branding. It stinks for the rest of you, but you’re not my problem or my priority. Our clients are.  [I’m just kidding. I love you all. I just love you a little bit less than the folks who contribute to my salary.]

A lot of companies hear the word “blog” and switch it in their minds to “article writing”. A blog post is not an article; they’re two entirely different skill sets. I know this. I’ve had to write both, and while I’m only marginally skilled in blogging, I am not at all skilled in the article side of things.  If you’re going to start a blog, you need to actually hire a blogger. And two blog entries on a blogspot.com blog doesn’t make you a blogger. If you’re trying to outsource the task (and there’s nothing wrong with that), do some research and make sure you’re getting someone worth it.  Someone who knows how to use personality to convey a point, not get in the way of it.

There are plenty of posts out there about how to blog and what makes a good blogger, so there’s no reason for me to rehash them. Instead, I wanted to share some of my favorite blogging resources in the hopes that you guys would share some of your own.  What do you think?

I’ll go first. Here are my favorite posts/resources on good blogging.

[Note: I’m choosing to focus on the how-to-write-blogs side, rather than the SEO /platform side of things. There are lots of great guides on creating SEO-friendly blogs, but that’s another post for another day.]

What Makes a Good Blog: This may be my favorite article on blogging of all-time.  It covers 9 absolute essentials to blogging and leaves out the fluff. If you’re going to read one article on how to be a real blogger and engage people, I think this is it.  Plus, if you’re going to take blogging advice from anyone, Merlin Mann is a good person to take it from.  His last two rules are my favorites: Good blogs put in the extra effort to try and they’re smart enough to know when to break their own rules. Amen.

The Executive Bloggers Guide to Building a Nest of Blogs, Wikis & RSS: This Guide comes from Ogilvy (a PR agency, oddly enough) and details pretty much everything you need to know about creating and running a successful blog. They even went as far as to create a Blogger Code of Ethics that I actually really like. It outlines things like not deleting posts or comments, being honest, disclosing conflicts of interest, and other issues that are staples to those of us in the blogging world. It’s a great Guide for those getting started and a maybe a reminder to the vets.

How to Write With a Distinctive Voice: If you’re familiar with me, you know that voice is something I’m overly-passionate about. To me, that’s just what blogging is. Finding your voice and using it to connect and make a difference. This Copyblogger article from Dave Taylor is a good lesson in the finding your blog voice.

I wrote a post for Search Engine People not too long ago called Bringing Your Voice To Your Blog that I think is another good piece on the importance of voice. I won’t shill it here, but you can head over there if you’re interested in reading it.

10 Techniques to Get More Comments On Your Blog: Comments are the lifeblood of your blog, well, to me anyway.  They represent the conversation, the level of engagement and tell you if you’re making an impact or not. Without them, you’re just talking to yourself and I hear you’re not supposed to do that in public.

Ten Recipes for Persuasive Content: This was sent to me last week by one our awesome Web Designers [everyone wave to Zane DeFazio], and I really like it so I’m including it here.  It offers some good tips on being persuasive aka how to make people listen to you. It makes sense that the first tip is to talk like a person.

So, those are some of my favorite reads on blogging. If you’re looking for other resources, Blog Herald, Copyblogger, Lorelle on WordPress and Dooce are some of my favorite places to go to learn about writing. (Yes, I know Dooce isn’t about blogging, but I think it is about storytelling. And to me, the best bloggers are the ones who tell the best stories.)