In the last article [here] I covered the mechanics of planning a blog. One of the most effective use of blogs today is in developing an image and a message. Developing a message is encapsulating one idea in everything you do. The tag line and logo and style and mostly the writing (style, subject matter, posting frequency, sources and connection to outside publications, are you commenting on news or opinion? is the material informative and useful?) are the message. Most people do not develop messages and images for a living. Marketers and brand managers have been doing it for centuries. So as an individual blogger you need to learn the basics. Most people think that image just falls out of what you say, how you dress and what your presentations looks like. This approach is true if you are not going to work on your message and image. If you want to guide people toward a certain way of seeing you, you may need to polish certain elements and to explain your professional skills in layman’s terms. If you want to convey (or impress) certain professional style or approach, you may need to explain in detail what you do and how your work stands apart from others. Essentially a blog gives you a professional communication platform. You need to work on what to say and how to say it.
One way to start is by developing guidelines and examples of your message. Some people like to define a mission statement and goals of the message (“the blog will portray a professional expertise in blog copy writing and promotion”.) You may want to collect examples and decide what to do and what NOT TO DO (“comments and links to technical resources are useful. Comments and links to professional resources such a writing style sites and blog promotion sites are not useful to OUR CUSTOMERS-READERS”.) Once you have a message, you can amplify with examples, theory, strategy, benefits… and have better results with a blog than with other formats (newsletters, static web pages, mailings.) If you need examples, go to companies and individual’s blogs. Blogs are more accessible and have better format than a set of books. Even writers like Seth Godin and Malcolm Gladwell use blogs to keep a steady stream of messages and updates. They both use Type Pad, a blogging platform with clean design lines and well integrated basic functions. Type Pad attracts single bloggers like authors and professionals, who need basic features and are willing to give up on flexibility to get a simple interface. Think of the “MAC” of blog programs.
Godin and Gladwell are one example of a focused image. They promote their books and focus their writing on their subject areas. The blogs tell more stories and examples in real time. Godin’s style is playful and he posts short messages almost daily. Gladwell is more serious and uses the blog to comment and expand on articles from the media. Both authors have carved a niche for themselves and they write for a broad audience. Both cover the development and behavior of social communication. Godin is more specific about social media in context of technology driven format: blogs, social networks and digital media. Gladwell is more specific about the organization of social groups and gives general examples. His writing is focused on group behavior.
From your message and many blog articles comes your image. From the design to the writing to the subject matter, readers are going to presume an impression, that is their image of you. Once you see enough examples and you write a few articles you can start shaping your image. You can change your image as you develop your writing. In future articles I will look at more examples and show more details on developing and shaping message and image.