We are at a point in history which may turn out to be the biggest publishing change in over 400 years. For the first time in centuries people can communicate easily, directly and economically. As individuals we need to use the technology and it’s popularity effectively. Compared to twenty years ago, every one of us has the tools even large corporations and governments did not have. This change compares to the revolution the printing press brought in western Europe and north America between 400 and 200 years ago. Printing presses, publishers, writers and book sellers changed everything in the western world from education, politics, government, religion, economics and technology. The scientific and industrial revolutions, democracy and communism, free enterprise and capitalism would not be possible without the changes which sprung from the printing press. Obscure Iranian bloggers and YouTube video clip posters, protesting the Iranian election results probably look very much like the American pamphleteers of the 1750’s. Benjamin Franklin became an influential leader because he was one of the printers supplying pamphleteers with a quick, economic and effectively method to spread their ideas.
Blogging sites (Blogger, Word Press, Type Pad), social network sites (MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In), retail sites with open reviews and comments (eBay, Amazon, Craig’s List), are essentially doing the same thing Franklin did 250 years ago and Gutenberg 150 years before. They enable direct and relevant communication completely unedited and unapproved by anyone (definitely uncensored.) Good news to bloggers and social media participants like you and me. There is a catch! With blogging and social media available to everyone, you have to be as good or better than most bloggers, promoters and social media networkers. You need to “say it better”. You also need to have something useful to say: “have something better to say”. Finally, what are you going to promote? Do you have a cause to publicize? a business to promote? a product to brand? a personality to introduce? Technology’s flexibility demands focus and persistence from you the author. The good news is that we are still early in the use of blogs. In your specific area of specialty you do not have as many competitors demanding your readers attention. You need to take this opportunity seriously, work at it and grab an early position in the blogsphere.
Once you have a clearly developed message (an idea, a need, or an existing article collection) [article here] and have researched and developed a plan [article here] you need to get a blog up. If you want to get it out quickly you need professional services to get you going. Bloggers [like me] can get you a blog up quickly and write a few posts. If you need researchers or promotion strategists, there are people with experience ready to help. If you need people who are going to promote your blog or social network page in blogs and other social media communities, these are media marketing experts (some rely on “free promotion” and some on paid advertising.) There are copywriters with experience in many areas, if not in your area a similar one probably exists. There are people with reputation or personal specialties who can be recruited to voice an opinion.
The best way to see what you can do with a blog is to start one. First plan and set up a blog. Plan the blog design and installation for a mid-term horizon. Set your posting frequency in the plan. If you are going to have a weekly or bi-weekly posts, you need to think about topics for a few months, so start with 20 article topics. If you can’t come up with 20 topics that seem to lead to one subject matter, get help from a blogger. This first plan will get you started into the details of defining your message. With a list you can also start writing summaries for each article. A series of articles can be analogous to a newspaper column. Think of yourself as a reporter or a writer. Think of yourself as a syndicated columnist [list]. You can be Dear Abby or Bob Woodward or even a Doonsbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau. If you plunge right at it, don’t worry too much at your direction or your overall message. Most people need practice. Blogs are great for practice, old articles disappear in the “next page” link at the bottom of the page. So go ahead and write as many articles as you want. If you have something good, you can use it again in a later post, you are the editor, nobody will complain. Most of all you will find out what you can do on your own. You will also find out what you want and how to manage a copy writer, an editor, a promoter or a SEO expert. This will help you a great deal once you need to hire these people. Experts you hire will also respect you and give you better work when they see you have some knowledge.
Take into account how to direct writers and editors. Bloggers can set up your blog and train you on the basics of using a platform (Word Press, Type Pad, Blogger.) If your blog or social media page (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Linked-In) needs promotion there are SEOS (Search Engine Optimizers) or SEMS (Search Engine Marketers), experts which will promote your position in search engine results. There are advertising specialist that can buy and manage advertising space and run campaigns to bring readers to your blog (Double Click, AdWords.) There are also bloggers who will place your articles into popular blogs as contributing authors. This can help you get noticed by a large number of readers much faster than you can gain subscribers and direct readers. All these services will get you started quickly, you will gain momentum. Getting started quickly is crucial if you want to adopt a blogging mentality into your work (personal or corporate.) In some traditional organization the shift to blogging may be very difficult. Deploying a well designed, written and promoted blog can make the shift easier and faster.