To get your message using blogs and social media, you need to write. If you are not a writer, or can not set up a blog, there is plenty of help. If it takes you too long to write, or your ideas come to you too fast, there is also help. Finally, if you have a busy schedule and are not going to write, you can have a blogger as a ghost writer. If you are a blogger or a writer or even someone that can maintain a blog (technically) you may want to help someone that can not do it by himself. Blogging does not have to be hard. The first few steps usually stop people, so sometimes we need help. The areas which get people frustrated the most are:
- Technical setup: getting a blog set up, picking a good design, page layout and additional elements (widgets.) Picking a blogging platform.
- Writing and editing: actual writing itself, editing effectively, finding appropriate topics, creating series of articles. Getting started after a lull.
- Cumbersome posting process: turning quick ideas into articles, commenting on news, adding graphics or pictures or formatting.
- Complex promotion: posting article announcements on other blogs, social media sites: Facebook, Linked-In, MySpace, Technorati, Digg and Delicious. Promoting on trade sites and comments on blogs or advertising.
- Constant technology change: keeping up with new Word Press versions, updating plug-ins, adding widgets from services. Learning and using new technologies (currently social media site connectivity.)
Simply put, blogging is still not simple enough for everybody. Actually, blogging is getting more complicated all the time. Most of the setup and maintenance operations you may do only once and have to be precise. Documentation and examples are not always simple to follow and there are times where the software is newer than the documentation. Then there are the many different terms to learn and processes to master. If you are a professional in any area but computers, you are better off letting someone with experience do the technical setup. Posting (uploading or actually writing) an article is fairly easy. You get a screen that is essentially a word processor. The editors for most blogging platforms are much simpler than Microsoft Word. You need to get used to the idea of “posting”. Posting is the process of publishing an article on the blog. You can always edit the post after it is published, but usually once it’s out, it’s done.
Writing, editing, photo and video editing:
Once the setup is done, then comes the writing. Most people don’t write on a regular basis. If you are one of them choose between learning and developing your writing skills, or hiring someone to write for you. If you are going to write for yourself, you can still find someone to edit, research topics and background information and find or summarize related blog status. The blog as a new format, has made content the crucial component in your message, design and a large amount of information no longer attract people. Blogs are now focused, current and most of all interactive channels in a community of readers.
If you have a specialty, even without doing your own writing, a ghost writer can still give you personal writing which is interesting and unique. That will become your voice: style, subject matter, political or policy leaning, etc. Lately there has been a trend toward audio with text and presentation (screen casts) and video blogging. Here you do not write as much as direct and present. Here a writer or researcher can help you with your presentation. In the corporate world, companies like Cisco have adopted video blogging in a big way. You still have to come up with a topic, but speaking may be easier than writing.
Writing takes time, if you need graphics or photographs processing them takes time. Even videos, editing and uploading takes time. If you want your ideas “up” as soon as they pop into your head, you need to stop the rest of your life. If you see an article or someone phones with news, you may want to write a response right away. For most busy professionals, stopping their daily activities is not an option. This is where a blogger or a photo editor on a retainer comes in. I have a client that just posts vacation deals. He posts them anywhere he can. The information is free and comes from many sources, still he need to edit the text and images. He negotiates with bloggers on posting rates, editing text and links… all that work takes time. He has a blogger do most of the work, dealing with other bloggers is an easy job for a blogger. There is a blogger that just posts his shop’s new camera news. He just copies camera specs from the manufacturer’s web site then translates it to a few languages. He does this a few times a day. There are many new camera models of all kind coming in. A blogger edits the format, links to social media (Facebook, Twitter) and keeps the front page looking good all the time. To the photo shop owner this service is well worth it’s cost.
Complex promotion and advertising:
The blogsphere has become a big world of it’s own. Blog promotion has gone through a series of “phases” from cross linking, to affiliate advertising to blog catalogs and indexes… with all kind of content swapping and guest writing techniques. If you are not an experienced blogger and want to move quickly, a blogger can get you connected and explain standard operating techniques. Advertising using Google AdWords or other advertising services is useful in corporate and individual blogs that need fast exposure. If you are selling a product or introducing one, you may want to bring a large number of readers thorough advertising. Many large blogs carry advertising that you place on Google and will expose your blog to their readers. In each specialty area there may be large established blogs which may exchange articles or run your articles with links back to your blog. This complex structure is not easy to master and may take some research. This kind of promotion service is highly recommended to new bloggers who are more focused on their content than their blog’s promotion. As a single writer on a few blogs, I had the experience of focusing on one aspect like writing while neglecting the other tasks like promotion. Neglecting something in the blog will eventually catch up with you. Balance your efforts or get help if you need it.
Constant technology change:
We are in the midst of two big technology changes in the blogging world: mobile micro-blogging and connection of blogs with social networks. There are just two of the latest changes which affect the constantly moving world of blog technology. Update of platforms like Blogger and Word Press is another constant change which a blogger must be familiar with and even master. A year ago the advertising networks and affiliate networks have gone through changes and in the mean time RSS (Real Simple Syndication) provider Feed Burner was acquired by Google and stress among bloggers over changes and the possibility of the service closing rumbled through the community. If you are going to focus on ideas and writing, a good technical blogger is a useful resource. Blog platform like Live Journal and Type Pad offer a complete solution where you do not have to update the software or worry about technology changes, the service does it automatically for a small monthly fee. Again, these are crucial small details which a beginner can spend a great deal of time learning yet can purchase the service from an experienced blogger or technical expert.
This list is not meant to scare new bloggers from taking the plunge. To the contrary. Blogging has become popular because it is effective and gives a voice to people who have important things to say. It also addresses a focused audience which was not effectively done until now. In the past, magazine articles and newsletters did what a blog does now, only they had to be mailed all over the world. But, just as e-Mail, web pages and social networking sites have done, blogs bring a solution to a specific type of writers and readers. That said, the popularity of the format has also brought fast advancement and complexity. If you choose not to use the most complex and advanced features, you may have a simple blog which becomes popular by word of mouth so advanced promotion techniques are not necessary. You may choose to use a user friendly platform such as Type Pad (see Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin article) and simply design your blog with the most basic widgets and page formats. Or you may wish to chart a long term blog strategy and add elements mentioned here one at a time. Whichever way fits your needs, I encourage you to read more, test out whatever you think you need and most of all, get help. Help can be a blogger to get you started, a book to follow, a blog to read or a class to take.
G O O D L U C K ! !