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Why blog and what makes a blog successful?

Steven Streight is writing a book, Secrets of the Blogging Pros, that includes input from well-known bloggers. As he put it in his original email to me, he wants to include pointers from "innovators, CEOs, VPs, marketing gurus, political pundits, tech geniuses, manufacturers, writers, artists, computer gamers, PR firms, book publishers, satirists, entrepreneurs, etc." I am flattered he asked me to participate! He's already gotten feedback from a list that includes: Cory Doctorow (Boing Boing), Laura Ries, Mark Cuban, Richard Edelman, Dave Taylor, John Moore, Steve Rubel and many others.

Needless to say, I procrastinated for almost two weeks before responding to his two simple questions: 1.) Why did you start your blog? and 2.) What makes a blog successful? Here are my answers (they address the issue of procrastination)...

(1.) Why did you decide to start your blog ?

I started my first blog, www.DebbieWeil.com, in 2003 for a very practical reason: It was clear to me that blogs were going to become a business tool. And I needed to know how to use the tool. I figured blogging myself was the quickest way to get up to speed and even get ahead of the learning curve of most business folks. How could I advise clients or write knowledgeable articles if I wasn't doing it myself?

Not a sexy reason to start blogging, I know. But I can dig a little deeper now that you ask. Why do I blog? It's simple. I have an urge to write. I was a journalist for several decades. Now I'm a marketing consultant. But I'm really a recovering journalist. I still have the urge to "report," to clarify, to offer perspective. And the elegance and simplicity of blogging software gives me a way to write short entries quickly and easily.

I'm a huge procrastinator when it comes to writing. Not coincidentally, the software and Web interface behind a blog make it ideal for procrastinators. Writing a 750 or 1,500-word article is a daunting task. But a quick blog entry takes less than a minute. And yet the ripple effect is significant. A corporate communications director recently called me from a Fortune 100 company (it was H-P... right before Carly was axed) saying he had read my new blog and was I available for a presentation on blogging. He found BlogWrite by googling for "blogging" and "corporate" and "best practices."

(2.) What do you think makes a blog successful? (attributes, measurements) and your blog in particular?

Attributes of an effective blog:

Good writing. Useful information. Hot-off-the-press information. Lots of links. Credits to other bloggers as appropriate. Regular posting (at least once a week; preferably more often). Honesty and authenticity in your writing voice. Speaking directly and respectfully to your readers. Not just writing to impress other members of the blogosphere.

Other measures:

Number of Comments (from your readers) and number of Trackbacks (from other bloggers).

As to how my two blogs measure on this scale, I'd say they do well but don't get an A+. Like most people in business I don't have time to blog, er write, three times a day. Starting a second blog was a strategic decision. I wanted to focus on the craft of "writing" a blog and specifically, writing a thought leadership blog. It's a big topic. So I think of BlogWrite as a place to chip away at this subject.

Ultimately, a blog is the sum of its postings. Keep that in mind and you'll feel more comfortable posting shorter, more frequent entries. You don't have to be brilliant every time. Just useful and hopefully a little bit interesting.

 

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Posted by Debbie Weil on February 23, 2005 in Writing Tips | Permalink

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