This industry has grown hugely over the past 10 years, giving rise to the ‘lap top lifestyle’ by the likes of Yaro Starak, Mark Anastasi and ‘virtual CEO’ Chris Ducker. There are a few high-flying women in this category too, such as seven figure earner Joanna Martin and self-styled ‘nomad’ (with three kids and a husband in tow!) Michelle Dale, herself a VA for many years who now shows others how to replicate her success and offers consultancy services for her high-end clients.
So how does blogging differ from other forms of writing?
What are some of the pitfalls and challenges peculiar to this medium?
Perhaps critical to blogging now more than ever is a clear focus on what you want to be known for – and in turn found by search engines, especially Google, and hopefully consequently by visitors and customers!
This is where the relevance of key words – or we could just call it content – to your business expertise and subject matter is crucial. A search engine is probably one of the most important marketing channels for anyone wanting to raise their online presence. And those crawlers like to find fresh content. Which is why blogs often do well in search engine rankings. Experts in the blogosphere, though, will always stress the importance of building your own email subscriber list, leading your readers back to the content on your blog.
In fact, these days blogs are rarely standalone products. They are often used to drive traffic to another part of the website where there are products or services on offer. A recent survey by Hubspot (2018) revealed that 55% of marketers said blog content creation was their top inbound marketing priority. Social Media Examiner in its ‘2018 Social Media Marketing Report’ (its 10th annual report on the topic) found that 65% of marketers (in the US) planned to increase their use of blogging in 2017.
A blog site these days might include far more than written content. Many now include video of some kind as well as a podcast. Information or usefulness seems to be the key to a blog’s popularity. Will someone share it?
The fashion bloggers were early to monetise their blogs by allowing ads and then securing lucrative sponsorship deals. Nowadays, as a result of the proliferation of low-priced (and sometimes free) easy to use software, there has been a boom in the professional blogging sector. You only have to look at the number of sites powered by WordPress to see this growth.
There are blogs to solve acne problems, blogs to teach people how to publish their own books and blogs to teach you how to make in excess of $10,000 per month by blogging! So how does this sort of writing differ from any other form of business writing?
Sam Leith (author of ‘You Talking To Me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama’) knows a thing or two about writing. He’s a columnist at the Financial Times andthe Evening Standard as well as literary editor at the Spectator.
In his new book, ‘Write to the Point. How to be Clear, Correct and Persuasive on the Page’, he offers sound advice to those of us with blog-writing ambitions:-
“A blog isn’t a single sort of thing. Some blogs are essays; some are diaries; some – if you include in the blogging category profiles on platforms such as Pinterest or Tumblr – might be more like a curated collection of artefacts.”
“The thing that can be said about all of them in general is that knowing your audience is the key to their success.”
“Blogs are personal. What’s your selling-point? Is it your particular expertise or authority? Or is it your taste and style and tone of voice? A blog, one way or another, needs a USP.”
This last two quotes will strike a familiar chord with readers working in marketing communications or those who have had any training in how to develop and deliver a pitch. It appears that there is little difference in the thinking required to write a blog post than that required to construct a compelling pitch document or presentation.
The main difference – and greatest challenge – in being successful as a blog writer is holding our seemingly gnat-like attention spans when online. Competition is fierce out there on the worldwide web. When connected to it via our computers, tablets or mobiles we are faced with an onslaught of new and potentially interesting content to distract us.
So, in conclusion, blog writing seems to have more similarities than differences to pitch or presentation writing. If you haven’t grabbed your audience’s attention with an intriguing headline and sustained it within the next few lines, they’re likely to have wandered off to find something more interesting or useful to watch, read or listen to!
On the topic of listening… you may want to read my article on podcasting. This medium may be the solution with regard to holding our audience’s attention.