In this newsletter, I’ve so far avoided the topic of blogging – even though this newsletter is really a blog. And not that I’m bragging (well, I suppose I am), this blog has now been publishing for a year, which is some kind of a gauge of success. The number of subscribers keeps on climbing, unsubscribes remain low, and metrics indicate a pretty high “open” rate.

I’m not saying this to brag, but to indicate that maybe, I can say a few things that will help you build a successful blog if you want to do so.

First of all, what’s a blog?

The term comes from “web log” and it implies an online journal or newsletter, to which people can subscribe.

Some blogs are all around “what I want to say to the world,” with no clear business purpose. A thought leadership blog, by contrast, is intended to demonstrate the expertise or thought leadership of the author, and it does this through providing really useful information.

The blog can be distributed by a variety of platforms (Wordpress is one of the most common) that allow you to create new blog entries, invite people to subscribe, allow them to subscribe (as well as unsubscribe), and make previous issues available.

This blog used to be distributed via an interface called Mailchimp, which was fine in the early stages, but my business manager suggested switching over to another platform, called Active Campaign. The blog appears on the Thought Leadership Resources website too. I create notifications about each new post for distribution on Twitter, as well as summaries on LinkedIn and Facebook.

It’s a good way to provide useful information to people and I’m grateful for all the people who have said that the blog is useful to them.

Is blogging right for you?

Blogging isn’t for everyone. Some business professionals just get a bad feeling whenever someone asks, “Do you have a blog?” Blogging works for you IF:

You’re able to write at least fairly easily
• If you can’t write easily, you can at least talk into a recording device and have your ideas transcribed using software
You are able to keep to a regular publishing schedule, at least monthly.

It also helps if there are many new developments in your field and you’re plugged into those changes, so that you can make your blog a ‘must-read’ resource for anyone who needs to stay up to date. This can be the case if there are many new regulatory changes or new laws that affect your clients, new technologies, or other new developments. I talked about “newsjacking” in Post #6, about how you can get a lift for the content you produce, including blog posts, if you can hang it off some news that affect your clients.

As I write this, the mainstream news is about a hot new iPhone (the 7) and about Samsung devices that are literally bursting into flames. There’s been a long rivalry between the two companies, with Samsung scrambling to keep up with the iPhone’s coolness factor, and from what I can tell, largely succeeding. These new developments mean that anyone covering consumer tech needs to have created some blog posts around the new devices.

However, most business professionals would be wise to find a way to create content that is valuable to their clients and prospects, that they won’t find elsewhere. I call this “narrowcast newsjacking,” covered in Post #29. That post talks about public speaking, but the “narrowcast” idea applies to blog posts too – and other forms of content.

What topics should your blog cover?

Many bloggers wonder what they should write about. It’s really quite simple. You write about the questions and issues being faced by the people you want as clients. That’s it.

If you don’t know what their issues are, this is a good chance to call a few up, and arrange time for a call, or a meeting over coffee, beer or wine – your choice – and find out what’s nagging at them. Is it a newly disruptive technology? If not, a new law? Is there something they don’t know how to do, but it would help them (like, write an effective blog)?

One of the most renowned business-success-through-blogging stories is that of pool installer Marcus Sheridan, of Maryland-based River Pools, who saved his business through a blog that answered his customers’ most frequent questions. You can do this too – just write out the most common questions your customers or clients have for you, and then develop some answers around those.

Getting best leverage for your blog posts

If you produce a blog that you think is genuinely useful to other people, you want to attract people, particularly prospective clients, to read it. The best way to do this is to make sure that the content you produce is actually written with your ideal prospects in mind. If it’s useful, your ideal clients will go on subscribing, and they’ll recommend your blog to others.

But you can go further. As mentioned above, the Thought Leadership Resources blog is distributed by email using Active Campaign. We also create three tweets for each blog post, and these tweets then get sent out multiple times on a regular schedule, using an online solution called Hootsuite. We also create a summary appropriate for LinkedIn, and also for Facebook, that includes a link to the website version of the article.

I find that some of my colleagues have my Twitter set up for an automatic retweet of my social media to their followers, and this multiplies the reach of each Post.

Then, there are multiple uses for each blog post. I often take the content of the blog post and rewrite it slightly for use as a LinkedIn post.

Further use of the content can come if you turn several blog posts into an article, or maybe a speech.

In all, the key to successful blogging is to answer the questions and concerns of the people you most want as clients.