Together with Annie Jacobsen of Assisted Transitions, I have been hosting a series of events called Blog Blitz! Our third workshop, this Tuesday 4:00-6:00, will focus on defining a blog niche and devising an actionable strategy.
Seven primary ingredients are necessary for business blogging success:
Let’s take a look at Strategy:
The case of the new real estate agent’s blog
With his permission, I’d like to cite my new friend (and Blog Blitzer) Robert Lani as an example. You can read his blog here.
At our last Blog Blitz! event, Robert expressed something that I hear from people all the time. He said, “Kelly, I’ve written 19 posts in the first few weeks of my blog, but now I’m totally stumped for what to write about.”
A good start
Now, Robert did a smart thing when he started his first blog. He got a free WordPress.com blog. He didn’t have to pay for hosting or get a great design. He used the standard template, which is fine for now, while he’s just getting his feet wet. Any gaps in posting aren’t hurting him right now because his blog is not yet a core component of his marketing.
When he puts a solid strategic plan in place, defines his blog niche, and his blog becomes an important part of his marketing plan, it will be time to get a hosting account and a custom or customized design consistent with his identity. Then, his blog will rank better in search engines, and it will reflect his unique corporate identity and personal brand.
I met with Robert last week, and you know what? He’s a pretty interesting guy. Robert is a new real estate agent who got into the market at a time when offices everywhere were hemorrhaging agents who couldn’t eek out a living in the down real estate market. Robert is a risk taker with a deep, genuine laugh and some rich life experiences. The guy has lived, and he’s still here to tell about it. He can relate to people in thought-provoking ways, and there’s a great value in that.
Thing is, his business blog would never tell you that. But it should because that is what makes him a unique person and gives him an edge as a real estate agent.
Robert’s blog currently does not address any particular target market. Instead, it talks to everyone and, thus, no one.
Finding a diamond in the rough
I read through Robert’s blog, and I found that his posts talk about everything under the sun in Seattle real estate. One post, in particular, caught my eye. It was titled, ‘Help for Homeowners in Financial Distress.’ That could be one of his primary categories, and right now, it’s a hot topic and will remain so for probably 2-3 years. Plus, it’s likely to gain either a regular reader base or a high quantity of readers. Valuable links would be easy to find. He could write frequent, short posts about the ways people could stay out of financial trouble to save their homes. He could write about how to come to terms with the need to sell your home before it goes into foreclosure, and what to do after the sale. He could write money-saving tips, ways homeowners can protect their credit, or how to deal with mortgage company phone reps. There is a veritable garden of topics that all relate to helping homeowners weather tough financial times.
Getting this specific with your blog takes work! It requires planning, research, gaining alternate perspectives, writing and editing. Good blogging takes time and effort, but it can pay off in spades if it’s right for your market. This approach will help prospective clients get more specific with how they relate to you. When they relate to you, they trust you, and they are more likely to become clients.
The effects of a little blog elbow grease
What would writing about weathering tough financial times do for Robert’s real estate business? It would open his doors to a whole community of people from all walks of life going through the same thing. It would build his community and help foster his relationships with prospective clients. While Robert would never wish for people to lose their homes, if it became inevitable (as it is in some cases) his credibility would be high, and his name would be known. He would stand a much greater chance of being the agent they called to sell their home, especially if one of his primary categories covered what to do next.
Setting a strategy and a pace
This is where strategy and pacing are so important and so effective. Strategy is not simply, ‘I’m going to write 5 posts per week.’ That’s not a strategy. It’s a empty promise that can be cast aside on a whim, without apparent consequence.
Have you ever said this to yourself? ‘There are so many things to write about in [your industry] that I don’t need to limit myself to one thing. I can write forever!’ That works for about two weeks on average. That’s it. Then there is a three week lapse in posts, you lose all of your regular readers and your motivation, and the whole thing goes to pot. Try not watering your house plants for three weeks and see what happens.
How do you avoid this scenario? You define a blog niche and develop an actionable strategic plan for your blog. You figure out how often you can post, then schedule time for writing. You make it part of your work routine. If you can write only one post per week, that’s fine. If you can do three-five posts per week, even better. If you don’t have time to write, consider using use a ghost writer. If you can bang out ten posts in a week, but you are unlikely to write again for a month, post the ten entries at regular intervals over the course of the month.
Why do you need a blog niche?
The fact is that everyone can be amazingly good at one thing. You need to figure out what that one thing is. Until you do that, your blog will have no niche. And in all likelihood, you won’t either. Do you know what that does to you in the eyes of your prospective clients? It places you squarely in no man’s land.
Think about that phrase for a minute: “No man’s land.” That means you are no one, nowhere. People don’t know who you are, or why they should want to know you.
Apply that thought to your blog, and it’s easy to see that your blog MUST have a niche. Without it, few people will read past the first post. Why? Because they won’t know what they are going to get, or why the time spent on your blog will be so valuable to them.
How to find your niche
If your business has a niche, apply it to your blog. If your business is lacking a niche, think about your passions and experience. Next, try writing 15 blog topics, and see where they overlap. You are bound to see some strong connections between your experience, passions, business expertise, and blog topics. Find the one thing that you are amazingly good at. Don’t worry if you get stumped at this point. Most people do.
If you get stumped, try asking a trusted vendor why they like working with you, or ask a client what they enjoy most about working with you. People love sharing their opinions, so don’t be afraid to ask. Write them down, and give it some thought. Your niche is undoubtedly just waiting to be discovered. Oh– and don’t worry so much about whether or not someone else has the “same” niche. Everyone, including you, has their own unique view of the world around them and their own way of expressing themselves.
Can you get by without a blog niche and strategic plan? See above, or in short, not likely.