This month only: Save $100 on PRO with code OCTOBER »

Real-World Education for Modern Marketers

Join Over 608,000 Marketing Professionals

Start here!
N E X T
Text:  A A

Seven Steps to a Successful Marketing Blog

by   |    |  17,359 views

How do you start from scratch yet create a top-ranked marketing blog in less than a year?

If I had anything close to a foolproof formula, I'd be making an infomercial right now rather than writing this article. Nevertheless, I can share some tips from my own experience to help you achieve success with your marketing blog.

1. Read

Before you draw up a plan for your blog, do your homework. Find and read the top marketing bloggers (see Mack Collier's Top 25 list). Don't overlook new voices, however; they may have valuable ideas and a fresh perspective.

It's important to listen before jumping into a conversation—and that's what blogging is all about. Often the back-and-forth discussion that takes place in the comments is the most valuable part of a blog post.


2. Comment

I did nothing but read blogs and bookmark them for about a month before I moved on to Step 2, which is to join the conversation by leaving comments on the blogs that you read.

Rather than a bland "nice post" type of comment, write something that adds to the conversation. Why was the subject important to you? How can you use the information?

Now, when you leave your comment, here's where marketing magic begins. Most blogs have three boxes for personal information to identify the commenter:

  • First, your name. Unless you are widely known by a nickname or pseudonym, always use your real name.
  • The second piece of information requested is your email address; it will not be visible to readers but lets the author know that you're a real person, not a bot or spammer.
  • The third blank to fill out is the URL of your Web site or blog, if you have one. When you add a URL in this space, it creates a hyperlink to your site, and when a reader mouses over your name, your blog title is displayed.

Because you've automatically generated a way for readers to find you, it's considered poor etiquette to use the comment space of someone else's blog for self-promotion. So resist the urge to hijack the comments; make your point, and use no more than one hyperlink. Most blog filters are defaulted to flag as spam any comment with two or more hyperlinks.

3. Write

When you first start writing a blog, it takes a while to find your voice. The best advice I can give you? Don't try to be Mack Collier or Drew McLellan or John Moore—or anybody else.

It's good to quote from industry leaders, but take time to formulate your opinions and express them in your own words. And don't write a lengthy essay that draws final conclusions, which has the effect of shutting off dialogue.

Learn to ask for comments in your post, and phrase them in a way that invites response.

4. Respond

When visitors comment on your blog, follow up with an appropriate response in the comment section. There's a fine line between dominating the conversation and keeping it going, so let several comments accumulate before you address them in the same reply.

Remember that commenters may not revisit your blog to see your reply, although this has been made much easier with new tools that allow RSS or email feeds for individual comments. Toby Bloomberg taught me an early lesson about responding to new commenters: She sent a short email thanking me for the comment and introducing herself. What a nice surprise for this brand-new blogger to get a personal email from the Diva! It started a conversation that has continued to this day.

5. Converse

A blog is not your only venue for interaction with readers and thought leaders. Take the conversation to another forum—a microblogging tool like Twitter, for example, or Facebook. More than 900 people follow me on Twitter, which provides many opportunities for interesting or helpful conversations. When I send a "tweet" with a link to a blog post, I always see a spike in traffic.

I do not treat Twitter, however, as just another marketing channel. Users who send only links and never engage with others will not find Twitter valuable.

6. Connect

Look for ways to extend the conversation to face-to-face meetings with other bloggers: Attend conferences, for example, or invite a local blogger to coffee. These connections will invigorate you and help you become better known in the marketing blogger community. When you visit the blog of a personal connection, it's like catching up with an old friend.

7. Rinse & Repeat

Don't rest on your laurels. Blogging is a long-term commitment, and you need to be aware of that—and prepared for it—going in. A writing schedule, or even an editorial calendar, can be a helpful tool to keep you producing fresh content on a timely basis. Set aside time each day to read and comment on other blogs.

Bonus Round

Be prepared for serendipity. You never know where the connections you make online will lead. For example, an offhand remark by online friend Cathleen Rittereiser inspired me to start a breast cancer fundraising project called the Frozen Pea Fund, which came to the attention of writer Craig Colgan, who wound up quoting me in a story published in the Washington Post, and that led to... well, I'll have to get back to you.


Join over 608,000 marketing professionals, and gain access to thousands of marketing resources! Don't worry ... it's FREE!

WANT TO READ MORE?
SIGN UP TODAY ... IT'S FREE!

We will never sell or rent your email address to anyone. We value your privacy. (We hate spam as much as you do.) See our privacy policy.

Sign in with one of your preferred accounts below:

Loading...

Connie Reece is executive director of Social Media Club international and a conversational-marketing specialist. She blogs at Every Dot Connects (everydotconnects.com) and microblogs at Twitter (twitter.com/conniereece).

Rate this  

Overall rating

  • This has a 4 star rating
  • This has a 4 star rating
  • This has a 4 star rating
  • This has a 4 star rating
  • This has a 4 star rating
10 rating(s)

Add a Comment

Comments

  • by John Johansen Thu Mar 6, 2008 via web

    The best part of this post is that only 1 point relates directly to writing your blog. While I understand that good writing is a critical differentiator, and voice can be difficult to find, blogs offer so much more opportunity than just content distribution.

    The point about not writing to the point of excluding discussion is one that I just posted on last night as well. You get more when you include people into conversations that you are starting or joining.

  • by john moore (from Brand Autopsy) Thu Mar 6, 2008 via web

    I'll add something to point #2 ... when writing ... Be Interesting to Get Readers Interested. You gotta write something interesting to earn opinions from readers which leads to gaining a readership.

    (Connie, thanks for the link love.)

  • by Wilson Thu Mar 6, 2008 via web

    Hi, I just like to say that I am totally inspired by your post! I am currently in the midst of setting up a marketing blog as it's my passion and I would love to learn more about marketing through exchanges! Great tips that you have given! Will try to put them to good use!

    Wilson
    www.themarketinguy.blogspot.com

  • by Connie Reece Fri Mar 7, 2008 via web

    John and John -- thanks for reading and commenting. Blogging is about so much more than content distribution. And amen to "be interesting." I get frustrated when reading articles on SEO and packing your writing with keywords. Sure, you should pay attention to SEO potential, but if that's all you do, it sure can lead to boring blogging.

    I say forget it and just write what you're passionate about. Readers will find it interesting when you do that, and you'll probably hit SEO gold without having to think so hard about it.

    Wilson, best of luck with your marketing blog. It's delightful to know that you found my article inspiring. That is always music to a writer's ears.

  • by Prasad Fri Mar 7, 2008 via web

    Hi Connie, After reading your post, I realized that I had just sped through steps 1 and 2, which are so very important ... will pay more attention to that from now on. Also a question/suggestion, in #3, is it not important to have a "hook" for your readers? For eg. This blog post definitely had me hooked!! Its TG is novice bloggers like me.

  • by Bob Grier Mon Mar 10, 2008 via web

    I recently started a blog without the wisdom of reading and studying like you suggest. It has been a hard learning experience. i wonder if there are courses someone can attend to teach you all about the tricks of the trade, such as domain names and hosting issues along with putting yourself out there to be seen by more searches. I am thinking i may need to convert over to a website at some point, is this common? thanks for your advice. my site is helicopterr44pilot.com
    thanks
    bob

  • by Heather Tue Mar 11, 2008 via web

    Thank you for the advise. I've been reading as many blogs as I can and have also learned what NOT to do after reading some of them. Any thoughts about "commerce" blogs e.g. online stores who also own a blog.

    Thanks

  • by Toby Tue Mar 11, 2008 via web

    Connie - great post and wonderful ideas. for me what ties them all together is they lead to the outcome .. developing relationships .. which is of course the secret sauce of social media and blogs. and as we found what begins online continues offline .. can't wait to meet you in april in NYC!

  • by Connie Reece Tue Mar 11, 2008 via web

    Prasad - It's nice to have a hook for your readers, but that's more likely to result in a temporary spike in traffic rather than long-term growth. If what you're looking for is subscribers to your blog (and of course you are!), producing quality content on a consistent basis is key.

    Bob - at this point there is no established course in social media. A lot of us are writing it in bits and pieces, making it up as we go, experimenting with what works and what doesn't work. Books are being written, but no one source pulls it all together.

    What platform is your blog on -- WordPress, Typepad, Blogger? I know WordPress best because that's what I use. You can use a static page as the front page of WordPress and your blog can be a dynamic page. That makes it appear that a reader has landed on a regular Web site and the blog is integrated into the Web site.

    Are you familiar with the bookmark tool, del.icio.us? You can access all of my research, tagged, on my page there: http://del.icio.us/conniereece -- browse around and see if there is some information that helps.

    Heather -- Sometimes learning what *not* to do is a very important lesson. I think a blog related to an online store is a good idea, but the success will depend on making the time commitment to keeping the content current and relevant. Initially I would take an approach similar to a newsletter, where you don't feel the pressure to write every day. Or a weekly column.

    A blog is a good opportunity to insert some personality into your marketing plan, to let customers get a glimpse of how things work behind the scenes. But the blog needs to be more than an excuse to toss another marketing message at the reader; if that's all it is, another marketing channel, it won't attract many readers.

    Toby -- it is always good to see your name on my computer monitor. Let's get social in NYC. See you soon!



  • by Shel Horowitz, ethical marketing expert Wed Mar 12, 2008 via web

    Three things made a difference in my blog getting noticed:

    1) Discovering that WordPress's Akismet spamfilter was trapping and purging most of the comments and all trackbacks--now I go in a couple of times a week to check

    2) Feeding my blog to my Facebook profile

    3) Flagging the occasional really good comment to groups in social networks where I participate

    I also comment a lot on other people's blogs.



  • by Connie Reece Wed Mar 12, 2008 via web

    Hi, Shel - thanks for stopping by.

    Interesting that Akismet trapped so many comments from your blog. I've only found one legitimate comment I had to rescue from Akismet. But the point is well taken: check your spam filter regularly.

    I also feed my blog into my Facebook profile -- another great tip. Occasionally I cross-post an article to another social network, such as BlogHer. (Thanks for the reminder. I have one that needs to go there now.)

  • by Bob Grier Sat Mar 15, 2008 via web

    hi connie, i use blogger because that was the first connection that i have had to blogging. is there a way to do the front page thing with blogger?
    is there anything wrong with using google ads? is there a better way to get revenue?
    thanks
    bob

  • by Connie Reece Sat Mar 15, 2008 via web

    Bob, I don't have any experience w/ Blogger so I can't answer the question about creating a front page with it.

    Most bloggers I know (keep in mind that's a limited circle of several hundred; the blogosphere is huge) do not use ads. There's nothing wrong with it, but unless you have a substantial readership (in the thousands) the revenue generated will be minimal. You also risk alienating readers if the ads are intrusive, especially with contextual ads placed in the middle of or between posts.

    If you're looking to make your blog an income source, take a look at Darren Rowse's Problogger (http://problogger.net). Keep in mind that blogging will become your full-time job when you seek to make it a significant revenue stream.

    Most of us use a blog as a platform

  • by Shel Horowitz, ethical marketing expert Sat Mar 15, 2008 via web

    "Interesting that Akismet trapped so many comments from your blog. I've only found one legitimate comment I had to rescue from Akismet. But the point is well taken: check your spam filter regularly."

    It grabs all the trackbacks. Some of them are borderline and pretty obviously done with some kind of automated tool, e.g., "Principled Profit had an interesting most this morning." But they link to legit pages and I accept them. Others are real comments, though fewer of them get trapped. And the junk links of course I delete.

    I don't what to do about the article sploggers, though, except to hope that Google can tell the difference between my original and their scraped copy.

  • by Connie Reece Sat Mar 15, 2008 via web

    Sploggers --- ugh. I hope you're right about Google.

    I found out this article was translated into Spanish, with attribution but with no link back to me or Marketing Profs. Now other Spanish blogs are picking up the translation and there are discussions going on about it. I can't join the conversation, though.

  • by Shel Horowitz, ethical marketing expert Sat Mar 15, 2008 via web

    Ooops--I meant to write "interesting post"

    As far as Spanish, maybe you could find someone at MarketingProfs who could do it for you and give you summaries.

    My book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First was translated into Spanish. AFAI can tell they did a reasonable job, but I'm far from fluent. But I do much better than with the Korean version of Marketing Without Megabucks: How to Sell Anything on a Shoestring, which I can't read at all.

    Meanwhile, I'm still on a campaign to make bad business practices (like splogging and spamming) socially unacceptable: http://www.business-ethics-pledge.org

  • by Connie Reece Sat Mar 15, 2008 via web

    Shel, I will check out the ethics Web site you linked to. I get frustrated every time I find a new splog, especially when I'm searching for something and most of the search results lead to news aggregators or splogs.

  • by Tony Eyles Sun Mar 16, 2008 via web

    Thanks Connie - blogging sure is a great way to be inquisitive and creative; to capture passing thoughts and links; and, hopefully make some new connections. The reality is with so many blogs our there there must me something in it for the writer other than reaching thousands of fans - or bots.

  • by Connie Reece Sun Mar 16, 2008 via web

    Tony, I have found blogging to be great for making connections. I'm about to attend an event with 80 other bloggers, most of whom I have gotten to know through their writing, and a few of whom I have already met in person. Networking this way -- connecting online and then meeting face-to-face -- is enjoyable and effective both personally and professionally.

  • by Tony Eyles Sun Mar 16, 2008 via web

    Sounds fun Connie - just wish I had more local connections down here in New Zealand!

  • by Connie Reece Sun Mar 16, 2008 via web

    In some areas it is more difficult to find local connections, but there must be some fellow Kiwis you can get together with. I just polled my Twitter connections and in less than 5 minutes got back three replies of people saying they have Twitter friends who are located in New Zealand.

    A social network like Twitter or Facebook is a good place to look for connections in addition to a blog. Start looking, and let me know what you find.

  • by Osnat Mon Mar 17, 2008 via web

    I was wondeing if you have tips to encourage commenting on my blog. I see its read through the blog's statistics but no-one comments. Am I over estimating their importance? how imporatnt is to show you have a blog that people comment on?

  • by Connie Reece Mon Mar 17, 2008 via web

    Keep in mind that only a very small percentage of readers will actually leave a comment. I've read the statistic that 90% of people who visit blogs will read only; 9% of people have commented on blogs; and only 1% of people create content on a blog or other site.

    Tips for increasing comments:

    • Ask an open-ended question at the end of a blog post, inviting readers to comment.

    • E-mail a link to the same blog post to a few friends and ask if they have anything to add? Keep the email short; be courteous and respectful of their time.

    • Post your blog to other social networks, like Facebook or Twitter and invite people to visit your blog and comment.

    • Keep creating quality content and promoting your blog as a whole.

    Some of the posts I consider to be my best have drawn few, if any, comments. Others have started great conversations.

  • by Osnat Tue Mar 18, 2008 via web

    Thanks Connie and I appreciate your quick response. I am doing most of your suggestions but never tried explicitly asking for replies from friends or even employees that are probably more involved and interested.

    Thanks for the tips!

  • by Michael Lombardi Fri Mar 21, 2008 via web

    I've actually found I have no interest in most of the top 25 that Mack Collier lists weekly. It's the smaller ones that I find more valuable--with the exception of the Daily Fix.

  • by Connie Reece Fri Mar 21, 2008 via web

    I always recommend looking for new voices or lesser-known voices. The problem becomes how to find them in what has become an overcrowded space. Suggestions?

  • by Goktug Gedik Sun Mar 23, 2008 via web

    Thanks for the great post! I believe the most important steps are 1&2. The variety of the blogs, voices and perspectives are the best advices for a new blogger to find its own voice. Moreover, I believe it is an art to publish nice posts. So, even your posts are great, if you can't find a creative and nice way to publish them, they worth less than they are in real.

    I think another approach to express your ideas is to start VideoBlogging. Easier to record and talk, but sometimes harder to edit. However, since it is far more different than text blogging, I think it should be discussed somewhere else... :)

    Thanks again Connie, I'm gonna work harder on each step, especially 1&2 ;)

  • by Connie Reece Sun Mar 23, 2008 via web

    Thanks for your comment. Video is a great idea; I've started doing some video blogging myself. You're right -- it needs an entire topic thread of its own. :)

  • by Neil J. Squillante Fri Mar 28, 2008 via web

    Heather, we operate a blog for a printer supplies store, which you can see here: http://blog.databazaar.com/

    Thanks to this blog, a number of competitors also launched blogs. In all but one case, the companies outsourced the blogging to an agency or professional writer.

    I've always believed writers are born, not made so be honest about your abilities. And just as importantly, about your ability to develop content continuously. Creating regular beats or columns can keep the ideas flowing.

  • by Sharon Natanblut Wed Oct 1, 2008 via web

    Hi Connie,
    This is my first week learning and participating in blogging and social media. It's been an amazing week and an addictive experience. I just wanted to thank you for your article and say how pleased I am to see a woman who is an expert in social media. Seems to be a pretty male-dominated group looking at the top 50 social marketing blogs. Anyway, I'm sure you're right that you should spend a month or more reading and bookmarking blogs before participating, but for me, I knew the only way I could really understand what blogging is about was to start doing it right away. So, I created http://footinblog.wordpress.com and called it The Blog Chronicles -- I figured if I blogged about learning to blog, it could maybe let experts like you see social media and blogging from the perspective of a neophyte. I also hoped it would encourage other newcomers to give it a try. After one exhausting, frustrating, yet oddly exhilerating week, I've begun to get the hang of WordPress, I've discovered a ton of amazing social media blog sites and experts, I've started commenting on posts I really enjoy (like this one), and I've realized how very much I need to learn.

    For now I'm hoping that people will start responding to my posts and let me know how they overcame all the difficulties and challenges I've been facing and what steps they think I should focus on next. I would love any advice you could offer and I will add your everydotconnect.com to my blogroll.
    Thanks tons.
    Sharon

MarketingProfs uses single
sign-on with Facebook, Twitter, Google and others to make subscribing and signing in easier for you. That's it, and nothing more! Rest assured that MarketingProfs: Your data is secure with MarketingProfs SocialSafe!