To blog is human
It’s been over a year since I wrote my first blog post and I’m just starting to get to the humanity of it.
I started with the goal of blogging as an extension of my job search. Creating a narrative that shows my marketing chops. That shoots steroids into my resume. That builds my online presence and personal brand. You know, all that marketing jazz.
Turns out, to get good at blogging I had to unlearn some of that marketing jazz.
A blog seemed the ideal platform for me. Much of my career has been devoted to direct marketing copywriting, brand strategy and business publishing. I’ve been an editor for many business newsletters, so why not wade into the blogosphere?
I learned blogging is different.
I had to set aside some of the journalistic tendencies of detached reporting and put more of myself into posts. I had to let go of the “brand guideline” approach to controlling the message and polishing each message to a fine sheen.
The polished, technically well-crafted posts were still missing something essential: a human connection with the reader. They were missing a unique perspective, a personal story and emotional oomph. So I looked for ways to add that to new posts. In reading other blogs, I asked myself some questions:
How were exceptional bloggers accomplishing this?
Do they have unique skills apart from other writers?
How can I figure this out more quickly?
The answers came in the mail when I received my copy of Born to Blog, the new book by two of my favorite bloggers Stanford Smith and Mark Schaefer. They have written the essential handbook for personal and business blogging.
It covers the basics of setting up a blog, content planning, attracting readers and monetization. Most exciting for me are the sections that help you focus on your purpose and find your unique voice.
One of the things I love about the book is its examples of blogging success by everyday people who share their personal stories. The stories range from battling weight loss, surviving cancer, reaching fitness goals and sharing their hobbies. They touch readers on a human level, and in the process build a community of followers.
These stories lead into a practical examination of successful blogging traits and essential skills that everyone has and can develop. At least half of the book goes deep into the “inner game” of blogging with action steps to develop the tenacity, focus, flexibility, consistency and courage to succeed.
The authors help you understand the reason why before the how to of blogging. Their stated purpose of the book is to explore “how blogging is changing people and businesses from the inside out.”
It doesn’t stop there.
Discovering your blogging skills
Another insightful section of the book identifies the core skills shared by successful bloggers. It is exciting because they are not unique talents, but skills everybody has to some degree. Through their research the authors discovered:
Blogging isn’t an elite marketing strategy. It’s a natural form of communication with skills preprogrammed into us all. You practice these skills every day. You just need to know how to summon them and put them to work.
What are those fundamental skills? In a nutshell:
- Dreaming – Do you dream of making a difference?
- Storytelling – Can you tell a story?
- Persuading – Do you have passions and opinions?
- Teaching – Can you answer readers’ questions?
- Curating – Can you critique or categorize a subject?
If you can answer yes, you can blog. The good news is there are ways to summon these skills and the book shows you how. Chapter nine provides a simple evaluation tool to help you identify your strengths so you can focus on your dominant blogging skills.
Born to Blog is a perfect example of the maxim “good things come in small packages.” In 165 pages it gets to the guts and glory of blogging. Whether you are a blogger or part of a social media marketing team, it will help you connect with your audience on a human level. I wish I’d had it when I started a year ago.
[Disclosure: I have met Mark and guest-posted on his blog.]
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