4 Words Of Non-Wisdom Bloggers Give

August 23, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Content Strategy

There’s a lot of bad advice on the Web. We know this and we’re all getting pretty good at ignoring it. However, sometimes when I land on bad advice, I can actually feel parts of my brain exploding. And that’s usually when I say something that gets me in trouble.

While in the midst of liveblogging Affiliate Summit East, I noticed a tweet sent out by Ruud Hein promoting a post written by Roko Nastic entitled Four Ways To Become An Authority Blogger. Curious to see if I was “doing it right”, I clicked on Ruud’s link during a slow point in a session [hi speakers!]. I then did what I always do when I want to share an opinion but don’t have time to comment or create a new post – I tweeted.

A couple of people asked why I would tweet something I don’t agree with. Personally, I think it’s important to bring awareness to all sorts of content – whether you agree with it or not. I also was pretty sure this post would get a bunch of RTs since it was coming from an influential circle so I wanted to at least bring the other side of the coin. Of course, being at a conference meant I did a pretty crappy job doing that. Luckily, I have friends who will call me out. :)

Almost immediately after my tweet I received some well-deserved comments from Ruud via a new post and Donna Fontenot that my tweet didn’t do anything to help since the author would never see my comment on Twitter. Totally valid criticism (though he should be tracking Twitter). Now that I’m back I thought I’d touch on the issue a bit more.

Write less

While this gem is being touted a lot more, writing on a less frequent basis does not an authority blogger make. I know it sounds good in theory. That by writing less you’ll have more time to polish, more time to save up ideas, and that when you finally DO have something to say people will be so shocked they’ll stop in their tracks to devour your post. However, that’s not usually the case. While taking time to research your posts will help you to add value, simply writing less for writing less sake doesn’t bring the readers. It loses them.

If you want real numbers to back this up, look no further than Justin Kownacki. Justin recently ended an experiment on his blog where he began blogging weekly instead of daily, allowing himself to focus on creating one truly great piece of content a week.

The results of Justin’s experiment? Everything dropped. Visitors. Views to individual posts. All of it.

While some say that’s a sign you need to blog daily, you need to find what works best for your audience. For me, by cutting out one post during the Monday through Friday workweek it opened up an extra day to focus on longer internal or client projects. Whatever you choose to do remember that consistency is key. If you want people to remember your name and care about your opinion, you need to woo them on a regular basis.

In every post, write more

It makes sense that bloggers who advise infrequent posts also advise bombarding readers with really long ones. Because, I mean, this is the Web. People love to sip a cup of coffee and read a 5,000 word manuscript on what Microsoft did today.

Or not.

To be fair, Roko’s definition of “long” seems to be 600 words. I sneeze 600 words. But, regardless, intentionally trying to write long posts will often encourage bloggers to throw in the whole kitchen sink. It’s when a blogger starts writing EVERYTHING they know about a subject to make the post long and authoritative looking instead of breaking it up into digestible and actionable portions.

Instead, vary your post length. Write longer, in-depth posts and then switch it up with shorter, easier-to-get through posts. Or study what your audience responds best to and stick with that. For myself, my average post tends to sit between 800-1,000 words. It’s not intentional; my brain just seems to be trained to write like that. Viperchill wrote a great post on how long your blog posts should be that I’d encourage everyone to read. Personally, in most cases I’d rather see a longer post split up into a series than sit through the entire thing. Unless you’re Tamar Weinberg or Aaron Wall. Then I will sit there for hours and happily soak up everything you’re putting out.

Don’t comment or speculate, meditate on past events

This is maybe the worst piece of blogging advice ever. Blogging, even if it’s corporate blogging, is about sharing your view of the world. It’s about taking what’s happening in your niche and making it applicable to your small corner of the world. Sure, sometimes that may result in people sharing “unfounded accounts” of history but are you going to let a bunch of morons deter you? I’d hope not. It’s that kind of insight that makes your blog unique, that gives it a voice and that builds interest in your company or product. Removing it would also remove the soul of your blog. It’s why most agency blogs are unreadable and why your CEO sucks at blogging. No one comes to your blog to read about today’s news. They come to hear your take on today’s news and why it matters to them.

Attract high quality guest posters Make it unnecessarily hard for people to find you

Okay, I agree with Roko on that one so I’ll create my own…

Maybe it’s some sort of Catholic guilt, but I hate bothering people. If someone makes it hard for me to contact them, I take it as a sign they’d rather not be contacted. My original hope was to email Roko, apologize for my lame tweet, and dig deeper into this thoughts on bloggers. But…he’s not the easiest person to grab on the Web. I could have used the contact form on his Web site, but I felt a little awkward doing so. His @webmasterformat Twitter handle and business logo also made me feel like perhaps he wasn’t interested in a conversation. [Which could be totally wrong, that’s just my perception.] Roko’s blogging on some great outlets so that’s obviously working for him, but it might not work for you if your readers are as neurotic as I am.

I think being an authority blogger means being comfortable putting yourself in that authority position. And part of that means being really accessible on the Web and using consistent branding at every interaction. Don’t make people hunt for an email, wonder if you’re the same person using a different name, or guess if it’s okay to contact you. Authority bloggers are easy to find, get a hold of, and interact with. That’s where their authority comes from – their constant presence and approachability. It helps to build credibility and trust.

But that’s just my take. What makes an authority blogger in your eyes? What takes away authority?

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