"Aacckkk!!! I am getting known for everything except luxury home design here on AR!!!"
The above statement was going to be the title for this blog -- but at about 3 am, I decided to change it. Not only did it not reflect the original topic of this blog, but that I had a revelation about this subject!
What was the revelation?
A successful blog should be about the readers' interests, not the writers'.
You Are What You Blog
Think about it.
We are what we blog... Sage advice here has been to work your blog around what you want to be known best for. This has been obvious for a wide range of subjects: SEO, branding, social media, video creation, niche building, motivation, near death turnarounds, jokes, ethnic food, blogging tips, Facebook tips, interesting historical trivia, etc.
And we know almost immediately, from the title of the posts, exactly WHO is blogging on any particular topic.
If that topic relates strongly to real estate, then not only will the blogger stay in your mind, but the author will probably show up higher on searches for their specialty, etc.
So, blogging topics are important. But we can't write on the same subjects over and over and over. We try. In fact, there is empirical evidence to show that blogging topics are so content heavy that the SEs have discounted them big time. So... now what?
If we have the luck (through SEO and other methods) to be 'found', how would YOU like to be remembered?
Will you be known for your recipes, branding ideas, trivia, local events, specialty interests, etc.?
Readers of blogs are interested in things that help them the most - in their businesses, and even for their personal lives.
If you can create an audience that feeds on your niche and branding, great! But many of us don't consistently blog about our niches.
And that is not necessarily bad.
Because: Readers will remember YOU and your qualities, empathy, honesty, humor, earnestness, savvy, friend-worthiness, etc. possibly more than your subject!!
And this revelation may even be more important than your content!!
And it is not just the blogger.
Those who respond intelligently and have obviously READ the blog, also have a following, even if THEY don't blog regularly. Those who reblog have a following. Why? They are helpful, they are taking their time and energy to enable YOU to be more efficient.
In looking back on about a year and a half of thoughtful blogging, I wanted to see what clicked and what did not...
Here are my top 10 posts:
2,228 views on the 2 ft. rule. About organization. Not a peep about Vitruvius or the Golden Section... sigh...The tenth most popular post exposes the Not So Big myth -- 954 views. Closer to what I do. Other top entries not listed? About goal setting, business relationships, and how things are done in Italy!
Any takeaways for bloggers out there? SURE! And some pointers...
1. Readers prefer to hear about stuff that impacts THEIR lives -- not fluff about what YOU particularly do, like, or think, or received awards for. Really? Well, it is interesting to know what others think but if not connected with a "moral of the story", you may lose your audience. hmmm
2. Readers prefer to be entertained while being informed. We call that 'edutainment' around these hallowed grounds of Disney. They want to hear about the HOW and WHY of things. Sure, the technical how-to's are truly golden bits of knowledge. Facts are good. Inspiration is easy to digest and keeps one's fingers crossed. It offers hope. We are all looking for better ways of doing things. Workarounds. How to get ahead of the curve, etc. Readers like to be entertained along the way. How? A tongue in cheek write up, humorous graphics/joking, self deprecation, a personal story woven in, etc.
3. Write something compelling that will capture the interest of many of your readers. Write about something that will help them. A timely topic, some news that impacts or concerns their business, a great way of doing something to save time and improve their profile, etc.
4. The title should grab their interest. There are thousands of blogs on AR every day. Similar to sending out an email that someone will actually open. You need a hook. I rewrote this title a few times, even rewrote the story line! People scan their emails by looking at the subject line. Come up with a pithy hook. Think about it.
5. Tell the story in a natural manner. Weave an interesting story. Writing is an art. And a blog is about writing. Think about all the things that make reading any article or book engaging. Suspense, teasing introduction, build up to a finale, etc. People and first hand experience in the matter makes you real. Write from the heart. And mind.
6. The digital age requires all sorts of graphical interest to keep the eyeballs on your blog: photos, color, text breakup, etc. You can evoke a response simply by the font, spacing, size, paragraph breakup, etc. You can lose some people on how 'dry' the layout looks or astound them with overdone formatting. Here is one of mine that went way beyond: MOAB -- The Impossible Dream: is AR advice small-business achievable?
7. Make subtle references to YOUR specialty, but do not use a hammer or shotgun. When your reader realizes the blog is completely self-serving you will lose them. If you use the same tricks every time, they will avoid you completely. Watch out for overwhelming signatures... Ahem...
8. Remember: people are going to remember YOU and your personality almost as much as the content of your writing! People engage you for business and other matters based on what they know about your thinking and approach. Your blogs reveal how you communicate with others, how much you understand your audience, how willing you are able to share your experiences and truly hope the reader will profit in some way.
9. Edit your content during, and immediately after posting. Fonts, images, syntax, spelling, etc. can go awry. Correct constantly. I walked away from the moment I published this post and two hours later was aghast that the fonts were completely messed up. I am correcting this now three days after posting because I realized I had to elaborate on a thought here and there. Never 'close' a blog.
In the last 18 months most of my top blogs were about motivation, SEO, branding, and... food. Things I would have NEVER written about -- ANYWHERE. Because I am not necessarily an expert in any of these. I just notice a few things here and there. And. I Ponder... (there are a few of us here who do that regularly...)
So... I now offer up this important PSA... (this has nothing to do with architecture so you can breathe a sigh of relief).
This is about food!! And the kind of meal you should have at least once a week. It is based on Mediterranean Diet precepts... oh yes. It will keep you healthy. It will maintain your...ahem...regularity.
Of course, ONLY on AR would I even DARE to write about this. I am breaking the limits of polite discourse, yes. I am not following any 'rules' about most of the things suggested here about blogging... But wait, doesn't Kat and Barbara and others suggest exercise as a critical component of our lives in order to reach our maximum potential!?
So, without further ado...
I had been eating a lot of meat lately. Barbequed beef and lots of chicken. Mornings: baguettes wrapped around omelets dripping in butter with great sugary danishes and coffee to finish.
So, I says to the wife I says: "Honey, how about a night of just veggies. You know, a bit of zucchini, some carrots maybe..." And she told me to shut up because she knew what she was going to do...
Dinner that night consisted of boiled zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and green beans. She also boiled separately swiss chard. (should that be capitalized? I don't want to be non PC)
The meal was inhaled. Literally inhaled. It was HOMEMADE, fresh, and tasty. (This happened two nights ago.)
It was garnished with olive oil, oregano, some parsley, a pinch of salt and pepper. I lavished on some lemon. That was it. (ah, I guess you could add some mushrooms, garlic, perhaps roast the zucchini and squash...just sayin'! etc.)
In about 2 hours something magical occurred. And I was smiling for another day or so.
And I realized: this is EXACTLY what mom would make two or three times a week. Of course, there would be thin cut fried lamb chops, roast beef, etc. Plus a salad. Always a salad. (she tried fish sticks back then and I couldn't take it)
And I was healthy for years and years and years. (see the Truth about the Mediterranean Diet if you missed it).
We eat too many processed foods and sugar. (we never had cookies, carbonated sugar drinks, etc. at home. Always ate fruit). OK, some ice cream now and then!
Well, I am not a dietician. For cryin' out loud, I'm an ARCHITECT.
But I didn't get this far without blissfully enjoying my Mom's fabulous healthy Mediterranean style cooking. THANKS MOM!!
So, I hope you take this message to heart. It is FOR your heart...and everything else to keep your body healthy!