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Struggling to Find Your Voice

Takes courage to share your voice, but the reward is worth it.

I’ve talked to many groups, clients, friends, family members and even some random strangers (it’s my husband’s fault, he’s just like that) about blogging and content generation over the past year. Many of those hearing my words look at me like I’m a special kind of crazy. For all those out there who are struggling with the question, “Why do I (or does my business) need a blog?” or “Why do I need to update the content on my website more often than once every year or two?” here are some things to ponder:

Search engines are hungry, ok, voracious, creatures. They are always seeking new content to digest. And like any animal, the people they like best are the ones who regularly provide food. Feed the beast, and it will be your friend. Continuing with the analogy, make sure it’s good stuff you feed the beast… no one likes to receive rubber chicken when they were promised chicken cordon bleu.

If it takes three impressions at a minimum for someone to internalize a message and seven touches before they’ll take action (conventional marketing wisdom), why do you only want people to stop by your website once every 18 months? If they know fresh content is a mainstay on your digital hub (whether that’s your Facebook Fan/Like page, your website & blog, your Twitter stream, or ideally all of the above) they’ll return more frequently to check out what you’ve got.

Most of my clients tell me they want to be known as the expert in their niche or market. A blog is a great way to build that rep. Talk about what you know… about what you wish people knew about your field, about products, services, ideas or challenges in your field. Help educate your marketplace. If the challenge is no one knows they are making bad decisions, then HELP THEM know better.

Recognize that you’re in it for the long haul, and it costs way less to work with someone to help you develop a blog editorial calender, maybe edit or polish your posts and help you generate content ideas than your average yearly yellow pages ad buy.

Lots of resources are out there on blogging well. Here are a couple to get you started:

Mack Collier’s The Viral Garden

Copyblogger‘s site

Liz Strauss’s blog

And, if you’re on Twitter, follow and participate in #blogchat every Sunday night, 8PM central to 9PM central, to share, learn and connect with bloggers of all stripes, topics and backgrounds.

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11 Responses to “Struggling to Find Your Voice”

  1. Brian Doyle May 12, 2010 at 6:19 pm #

    Mandy,

    I enjoyed the post. I recently started a blog and have been amazed how quickly search engines index your site. That coupled with using Facebook and Twitter to promote I have been pleasantly surprised to see how many visitors I have had in the blog’s first month.

    This has been a far cry from my first feeble attempt at blogging, I have had more visitors this month than in the 6 months of my first attempt. By using tagging and links within my post it has been a new ballgame.

    Now it is up to me to keep the momentum going with regular posts

    • Mandy Vavrinak May 12, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

      Brian,

      Glad to hear your second attempt is going so well… it definitely sounds like you are on the right track. And yes… regular posts are a traffic builder. I am trying very hard to make sure I post at least weekly. In a perfect world, I’d post 2 or 3 times a week, but at the moment… time is hard to come by. I’m trying to schedule blog writing time in to my week now. If you see more frequent posts, you’ll know it’s working! 😉

  2. Doug Stewart May 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm #

    Some businesses have heard about so-and-so getting good search engine results with a blog. But after that, they’re lost. People need direction in this area. Thanks for including the links to Copyblogger, Liz Straus and the Viral Garden. I follow Liz and Copyblogger. But wasn’t familiar with Viral Garden. Thanks again!

    • Mandy Vavrinak May 17, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

      Mack is great… glad you found him. I agree that direction is so helpful… even those who are “professionals” need some input and accountability from time to time.

  3. Bobby Rettew May 17, 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    Mandy, I know the feeling. I have times where I am writing twice a week and then times I am searching for my voice. I am actually thinking about starting a personal blog to separate personal views from business. I think this will help me keep focused on my core business writing objectives. Bottomline…it does bring value. The inherent value is more than driving traffic to your site for business. The blog is a platform to help us self-employed individuals stay focused via our business blog writing. Just my thoughts…great post and self-reflection!

    BR

    • Mandy Vavrinak May 17, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

      Good perspective… blogging does have inherent value. It’s true that thinking about, researching, and then writing about a topic does crystallize ideas, processes and connections. I truly enjoy writing this blog and the PR blog both, and the interaction they afford with other peoples’ ideas and contributions. (kinda like your ideas, natch)
      Thanks for sharing, Bobby 😉

      • Bobby Rettew May 17, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

        Your post is what forced me over the edge with my recent post. But it is a funny balance, we do not want our audiences to ride the wave of our creative thought processes too much, we want to engage them and drive business. Here is a question…could you lay out a 6 month strategic plan for your blog and does it include some sort of revenue generation? Sorry if I am chatting too much and getting too much into your business. I just like to hear your smart thoughts!

        BR

        • Mandy Vavrinak May 18, 2010 at 12:27 am #

          I have no plans to directly monetize this blog. It serves the purpose I envisioned when I launched it… I get to think out loud, write about those thoughts, and share them. And the best part is other people share with me, too. Yes, it drives business for me because people get to know me, but I don’t plan to use ads or change the level of “sell” on the site.
          As far as a 6-month plan, not really other than posting at least once a week on topic here and once or twice a week on the PR blog. I have a “catch bin” of post ideas that I will develop as the inspiration strikes, but often, a post is triggered by a blogchat convo, an article in my Reader or something I see. I help others with editorial calendars for their blogs… especially helpful when you’re starting out or if you have trouble coming up with ideas. However… ideas are not usually my struggle 😉

  4. Josh Ploch May 18, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Mandy – Great Post. I still think it has to do a lot with fear. Either fear of getting rejected or doing it “wrong” from a personal side and fear of losing control of the message from a corporate side. I think it makes sense to us who use these tools every day, but for entrenched old schoolers – writing for public consumption still seems like a waste of time or at minimum not a priority. Until that mindset gets changed (and I think it slowly is) it will continue to be a struggle.

    And in response to Bobby – I just started a personal blog for the same reason, just to kick around more fun/project type stuff and not worrying whether it was “on message”.

    • Mandy Vavrinak May 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

      Josh, I think fear probably is an obstacle… Especially, as you point out, fear of losing control. I try to help clients see that they never had control in the first place… They were just unaware of the comments & conversations happening. In this case, ignorance is not bliss!

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