5 things blogging has taught me


May 12th, 2015   •   no comments   
5 things blogging has taught me

I am a writer. Ever since I was old enough to hold a pen, I’ve used it to put my thoughts on paper. From telling stories to selling widgets — you name it, I’ve written it.

As a writer who has honed her skills on just about every form of the art, I didn’t expect to learn much about the craft of writing from blogging. I was wrong. Since starting a personal blog in January 2013, my writing has improved immensely. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Blogging is a form of writing that requires a specific focus and edge. It is not enough to have something to say: sharing useful information with your audience is necessary but far from sufficient. You also need to share your personal point of view. Even if you are an expert in a particular field or niche, you need to get your point across in a voice that is uniquely yours.

  1. Use your expertise
    I’ve managed to amass a fair amount of general information in thirty years of working in different capacities within the field of communications. This ‘bon niveau de culture générale’ as the French call it is of great use to me but little interest to anyone else, unless we happen to be sitting next to each other on a long-haul flight. General knowledge is by definition broad and fairly superficial. There are, however, a few topics about which I know quite a bit. These are my niche focus areas. They are the essence of blogging.
  2.  Keep it personal
    If I want the facts, I’ll check Wikipedia. Better yet, I’ll check a reputable, expert-verified journal or source. But if I’m reading your blog, I want to know what what you think. Your posts should share your experience of your topic in a way that is both informative and personal.
  3.  Narrow your focus
    A blog post needs a very specific focus to be effective. If I start to write generally about either of my main areas of expertise – corporate communication and living in France – we could be here for a very long time. Blogging forces the writer to narrow in on one aspect of a topic, and trains you to focus your ideas.
  4.  Be regular
    Experience has taught me that by doing just about anything regularly you will get better at it. This applies to any acquired skill, from learning a language or practicing a sport. Regular blogging has taught me how to channel my thoughts quickly and structure them into readable bites. It is also important to be regular for your followers. Whether you publish daily, weekly or monthly, your blog will benefit from regular updates that your readers can count on and look forward to.
  5.  Get social
    There’s a reason they call it social media. “Being part of the conversation” means listening to what other people have to say. That means you also need to interact with your audience. Ask what they think and reply to their comments. Invite them to guest blog for you or reblog their posts. Read other blogs and offer your own thoughtful comments.

Avatar_COGNITO_fond_transparent_72x70pxWhen I started my personal blog, FranceSays, I was a babe in the blogging woods. Back then I believed that if I just wrote good posts, people would read them. (“Build it and they will come.”) My first posts got almost no traffic. Then I began to interact with other bloggers, to leave comments and likes. I noticed that the really good bloggers always replied to comments; they posted regularly and asked people what they thought. After about a year of following this strategy, I had built up my following to about 100. Then, I got ‘Freshly Pressed’ by the WordPress platform, instantly quadrupling my following. Since then the number of people who follow my blog has grown steadily, and is now around 1,500 followers. It’s nowhere near where I want to go with it in terms of statistics and engagement, but it’s well on its way.

As for Cognition, it’s still a work in progress. This blog is not intended as the main driver of my business but to offer an added value for clients and industry colleagues. I don’t post as often as I’d like but I do try to share information and ideas that you will find relevant. I would very much like to hear your thoughts – and any ideas for future posts!

What about you? Should you have a blog? If you are asking the question, the answer is probably yes. Whether as a small business or independent professional, blogging is a way to share expertise and gain authority in your field. It’s also an excellent tool for self-promotion.

If you’d like the help of a professional writer with your blog or other online communication, connect with me here.

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