*You need no one’s permission to start.
*You can choose any topic you are passionate about.
Before I started blogging six months ago, I had worked in economic development (workforce development) and had lead a few business workshops (most notably at three Entrepreneur Day seminars that I helped organize). Not very many people locally thought of me as an “expert”. I subscribed to lots of email newsletters of wonderful information. I could see the small towns around me shrinking in population, dwindling away. If only there was a way to share this info and help reverse this trend…
*State your purpose/niche/approach early on.
With all that in mind, I started with a sheet of paper and wrote a few bullet points, defining what I saw as the overall theme of economic development and small business tied to my interest in small towns. I used that to write my very first post, explaining my purpose for readers. It also served as a good reminder for me of what I wanted to target. After about 6 months of blogging, I re-wrote the post, included some of our best articles, and called it the guided tour. It serves as an introduction and welcome for new readers.
*Link to authorities and add your thoughts. Trackback.
When I started I would sometimes copy and paste whole stories with a link to their source, and maybe a short comment. I still do that occasionally, but I try to add something of real value for my readers. One of my favorites along this line is Communicate: Ask Better Questions. It is a conversation with another blogger, Chris Brogan, and an article by Jeffrey Mayer that I had saved for several years and quoted extensively. The result is an article with some added meaning from me and others, and with some use for real business people.
And for sites that allow trackbacks, it’s a great way to make the other site’s author and visitors aware of what you are adding to the discussion.
*Write original stuff.
Re-use workshops, handouts, articles, or tips you have already written. If you don’t have anything to add, you may not be an expert.
I dug through my files of newsletters and articles I had written, workshops and handouts I had developed. There it was! Useful information I had shared with others once and then just filed away. With a blog, I could share them every day with people literally worldwide who might use them. Simplified Business Plans for the Real World was the best one. Some of my other “great” posts came from concepts I had learned and used for years: Layering, IPAs, testimonials.
*Tell others in your network/industry about your site, especially non-bloggers. Get their feedback, encourage them to refer others, invite them to write a guest article.
I just started on this one. I specifically wanted to wait until I had built up a respectable amount of material. Part of my goal is to promising bring new technology to small business people. That involves bringing new people in to the blogging world. I’ve had positive responses as these people learn that wonderful online resources are available.
*Comment on other related blogs.
As I started reading blogs, I wanted to add to some conversations. Sometimes I would just comment on the original post, and leave a link. Sometimes I would comment and start a whole new post on my blog. But I very seldom just commented, “Yeah, I agree!”
*Enter related carnivals.
I found that I could enter the Carnival of the Capitalists, Carnival of Entrepreneurship, Carnival of Marketing, and Carnival of Business. I keep a running list in the sidebar of my blog of all my Carnival selected articles. I also entered articles at Jotzel, the daily version of the Carnival of the Capitalists. Every time, I have received a boost in the number of people who read that particular article. It also boosts my general subscribers. Weeks after the carnival, the occasional reader will still turn up from that link.
*Re-use your blog writings as new workshops, handouts, articles, or tips.
*List yourself as the author of your blog. Include it in your bio, especially off-line.
*Treat yourself as an expert. Maybe no one in the off-line world thinks so, yet, but build your expertise.
This works because while you are writing your stuff, you are making yourself into an expert. You are improving your knowledge and understanding as you research for articles, read related materials, and keep up with industry thinking. Blogging to position yourself as an expert can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’m sure you have some tips to share about blogging. I would love to hear them via email or comments.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.