With the prevalence of social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter, it may seem like blogs have become obsolete. Some publications advise amateur wordsmiths to not even bother creating a blog, claiming that adding anything to the already super-saturated blogosphere will inevitably become white noise.
The problem, however, lies not in the audience but in the uncommitted writer. Considering how easy it is to make a blog — most can be set up for free in less than five minutes — the blogging trend caught on with the masses very quickly and so many unattractive, uninteresting, and useless blogs were created that the numbers became inflated.
Those blogs whose writers have a specific purpose, especially blogging for business purposes, have been much more successful and met their purpose better than something like a kitten fan page, and for good reason. Because business blogs have a specific focus and an — admittedly smaller — but more interested and dedicated audience, they cannot be as accurately tracked with statistics as mass-appeal general topic blogs are. Generalized blogs have the advantage of appealing to a greater audience, but they are at a major disadvantage when it comes to keeping a reader’s attention long-term. They are also at a disadvantage in that they have no specific purpose, which often leads writers to stagnate and just stop posting.
It’s not blogging is dead, it’s that not everyone with access to a computer can write something worth reading. For these people the limited lengths and guaranteed audiences of social media is a better option. But this doesn’t make the blog useless or obsolete, and the numbers agree; according to a recent eMarketer study, 53.5 % of the online population in the U.S. (122.6 million people) read at least one blog every month.
In fact, most bloggers (up to 75%) believe that blogs are being taken more seriously as sources of information now than ever before and 74% of self-employed bloggers say that their blog has proven valuable for promoting their business. Commitment and longevity in blogging pays off, since 68% of successful bloggers have been posting for 2-6 years.
So then how, in a full-to-the-brim blog community can you make your blog successful? A business blog has the advantage of a specific purpose a continual stream of topics which will help to keep the blog fresh and thriving for as long as the business is, but only if it the writing is up to business standards.
- First and foremost you have to know your subject and audience, and gauge the content of your blog accordingly; a business blog is going to require more time and effort than most to be interesting and substantive, but the possible rewards vastly outstrip those of a blog about kittens.
- The next thing to focus on is the layout and design of your blog (but remember that writing quality needs to be your first priority). Because the blog is such a fluid medium, there’s no reason for yours to be boring or unattractive. A proper understanding of the CRAP principles can also work wonders. The challenge lies in finding a balance between readability, navigability, and attractiveness. A clear layout and a subject-based archive of past posts as well as the standard chronological one can be very effective.
- Also, highlighting new posts, either through including new posts in existing weekly newsletters, having a specific mailer just for blog updates, or using an outlet such as Google Reader will make it effortless for your readers to keep abreast of new posts and can increase readership dramatically.
Now that blogging has moved out of its infancy, things are changing; the blog format is established, audiences expect higher quality content, and readership is more specialized. But that’s no reason why a blog cannot be informative or successful, it just means we’ll have to try a bit harder.