I write a lot of blogs nowadays, for many different clients. Many companies spend a lot of time cranking out blogs and wondering if it’s all worth the effort. Last year I probably wrote about 150 of them for about about a dozen different companies, and I get asked similar questions all the time such as:
- Are My Blogs Too Long?
- What tone should our blogs convey?
- Should a blog from our CEO have a different style than a blog from our CTO? Or from one of our product managers?
- How many links should we have in each blog?
- How technical can we get in a blog before we lose an audience?
- How frequently should we post our blogs?
- Should we tweet out each blog?
- Can we put multiple graphics within a blog?
To most of these questions, I offer a simple, truthful and totally unfulfilling answer—it depends. There’s no clear best practices methodology yet available for blogging, so consistenly adhering to a few general principles can be your best guideline for establishing your blog and managing it over time. Whether I’m writing blogs for Fortune 100 companies, publishing firms or early stage startups, I suggest the following principles as guidelines:
- Set a minimum and maximum blog length and enforce it. If you’re not sure what that range should be start with 300 to 500 words and work from there until you find the right length for your audience.
- Target your content to the technical level and interests of your audience, and remain dilligent in ensuring that the proper content is distributed to the right audience. A CEO’s blog shouldn’t appear in a technology blogging area—unless it’s clearly labelled.
- Quality counts. Determine the tone of the content and the style guidelines you’d like to enforce so that you deliver a consistently professional experience to your reader that encourages them to return.
- Limit the hyperlinks and graphics so you can deliver your message to the reader as quickly as possible with as few distractions as possible.
- Make your blog entertaining. It’s not a data sheet or a narrative web page, use your blog as an informed perspective and encourage action whenever possible. Don’t be subtle, make your blogs decisive and demonstrate expertise.
- Encourage feedback so you can continuously improve your blogs to address the information needs of your target audiences.
I can pontificate on this topic for much longer, but I’m about to hit my own maximum blog length requirements that I set for myself so I have to sign off for now.