Sep 13, 2011

It’s much too often that I find myself thinking, “I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.” That is, until I take a step back and realize, if granted my wish, I’d likely request even more time to complete all the unfulfilled tasks on my lengthy to-do list.

It took me way too long to realize that if I truly wanted something I’d make time for it, and everything else would work itself out. For starters, I was already a victim of the social media time warp, tweeting, Facebooking and emailing every chance I could. The only thing missing to satisfy all my digital cravings was a blog.

The truth is I was somewhat intimidated by the blogosphere. I regarded bloggers with awe: How do they find so much to write about? Is it possible to have THAT many followers? Where do they find the time? They must not have real jobs or even be real people. Then irony hit me over the head: I was somehow taking time out of my already-too-busy schedule to follow these fascinating, inspiring bloggers and read every single post, every single day. I was addicted. I just had to dive in myself.

So here I am, one blog and numerous followers later, blogging to you about blogging. I started La Vida es un Jamón about three months ago and have yet to request a 25th hour in the day. I’ve found that blogging is not only second nature to me, but also therapeutic during chaotic times. In addition, the whole experience has enhanced my ability to guide clients through their own blogging pursuits.

For those who can relate to the unnatural desire to blog, here’s how I did it:

1. What do you want to be known for? I found that one of the many things holding me back was figuring out what to blog about. The simple truth is that you can carve a niche for yourself by becoming an expert in something that interests you. (I chose fashion, food, traveling and photography.)

2. Where do you find the time? This was one of the biggest challenges to overcome. Luckily, platforms like Blogspot and WordPress are free and simple to use, and they allow you to schedule posts as often as you like. Therefore, it’s a good idea to create an editorial calendar for your blog, which keeps you organized and prevents not knowing what to write about. You can also factor in anticipated events and trends, and when it’s a particularly busy week you can have several articles queued up and ready to go. However, it’s very important to keep your calendar flexible for timely events.

3. How often should you post? Write often. I try to write once a day and usually publish in the mornings. Statistics show that frequent blog posts result in higher traffic. (It also reminds readers that blogging is a committed effort on your part.) It can be challenging at first to maintain frequency, so if you need to, start off more slowly and build your way up. I’ve found that keeping my posts short and using a lot of quality photography helps me write more often. It’s also very important to keep your blog as clean and easy to read as possible. One good tip is to visit the blogs you admire and take note of the features, widgets and tools they use that keep you going back.

4. How do you build a following? While there isn’t an exact formula, provide original content on a frequent basis that brings something new to your readers. Whether it’s the latest fall fashion accessory, a new recipe or a guide of things to do in a particular city, blog aficionados are always craving new material. Having a presence on social media networks also helps drive traffic, visibility and engagement. You can send out status updates on Facebook and Twitter, for instance, every time a new post goes up, and in return incite comments and feedback.  There are many tricks of the trade to market your blog to the right audience…so many I would need to take up a whole other blog post on that topic.

5. Should you have a code of ethics? The short answer is yes. Make it clear that the views expressed in your blog are yours alone. Take responsibility for what you write and always be truthful and accurate. If you are sampling a product on behalf of a brand or company, make sure you give them proper credit. I always include a link to the company’s website if possible, even if I’m not receiving compensation for my post. However, it’s a different story if you are being paid. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), all bloggers are required to disclose any paid endorsements to their followers, online friends and readers. In addition, you should always be transparent. In other words, if you’re going to blog about how awesome your employer is, make sure everyone knows you work there.

These basic questions and tips helped give me the confidence to start my own blog, and also build relationships with other bloggers with whom I already interacted on a daily basis. At rbb, it’s not only important to know your client inside out, but also to be able to identify unique opportunities for them, whether through traditional media or online. Being a blogger has helped me understand what others look for when being pitched. Having firsthand knowledge of building a blog means I know the ins and outs for advising clients on their blog content, structure and format.

For some, content strategy and development, ongoing engagement and marketing tactics can still be baffling and time consuming. That’s why many corporate blogs hire a firm like rbb to help define their voice, reach a wider audience and ensure a greater return for their considerable effort.

For me, this experience has helped me understand how bloggers think and work and has opened the door to endless opportunities for both me and my clients at rbb.


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