Hi, everyone – I’m Bill Sheridan with the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute.I’m here today to give you a really brief crash-course on blogs.In the interest of full disclosure, I love blogs. I co-write the MACPA’s blog, CPA Success, and nothing has been as important to my career and as personally satisfying as blogging. It has really changed the way in which I do my job, and I think it has changed the way in which the MACPA connects to its members in a really positive way.People’s views on blogs have evolved over the years. Early on, I think a lot of folks looked at blogs as these narcissistic outlets for people with inflated senses of self worth. Today, blogs have really gone mainstream and are considered entertaining and important sources of content and information. Bloggers themselves are now often afforded the same rights and privileges as mainstream journalists.And businesses are using blogs to great affect as a ways of informing and connecting with their audiences.We’re going to start at the beginning. Let’s take a look at our agenda..
Before we really get started, I’ve got to tell you a quick story:Part of this presentation is a look at some of the ways in which small firms are actually using social media to great effect, and I wanted to bring some of these small practitioners into the room to tell their stories.One of them, Jody Padar, is here in person. A couple of others are here via the magic of video – I asked them to record their stories and send me the files so I could share them with you.One of them, Greg Kyte, who you’ll be hearing from later, was trying to send me the file but couldn’t find my e-mail address. So here’s what he said:You can augment the content of the video with the fact that I don't have you email address, and I found it through Facebook after looking on LinkedIn. This video wouldn't have gotten to you without social media.“We’ll decide later after seeing the video whether that’s a case in favor of social media or against it.Anyway, that’s the kind of world we’re living in today, and we’ll take a closer look at how small firms are taking advantage of it.
We’re going to start by defining our terms – what is a blog? We’ll give a brief introduction to blogs and what they do.Next, we’ll look at some of the reasons by you should consider blogging – what’s in it for you? What are some of the benefits of blogging? And there are a lot of them.Next, I’m going to take a quick look at some examples of great business blogs. Who’s doing it right, and what are they trying to accomplish?Then it’s on to the nuts and bolts of getting started: What are the first steps you need to take to get started down the blogging path?I’ll take a look at some valuable resources that will help you as you get started.And then we’ll sum everything up as neatly as we can.
But let’s get started with a really easy-to-understand, simple explanation of blogs and blogging.
And if you don’t believe, listen to what Seth Godin and Tom Peters have to say.
It’s all a matter of personal preference, really.
The first steps involve making some important decisions:What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to address customer service issues? Do you want to inform? Be very clear about what you want your blog to do.Be clear on the type of content you’ll give your readers. Choose something you know about and are passionate about and are excited about – and stick to that. Don’t vear off into a million different directions. It will only confuse your reader.Who will be your bloggers? Make sure it’s someone who wants to do it? If you try to bolt this task onto someone else’s job description, you are doomed to fail. It won’t get done.Are you committed to making it work? Because there’s a lot of work involved. Some experts claim that it takes up to three years of consistent blogging to gain the attention of your audience. Are you willing to put that kind of time in? Because that means making blogging part of your life.If the answer is no, don’t bother. The Internet is littered with the corpses of deserted, outdated blogs – and they will do your brand more harm than good.
These things aren’t easy even for the most gifted bloggers. The answer is practice, repetition, just doing it, making it part of your DNA. Some tips from successful bloggers:-- Update your blog frequently and consistently. More people will read it, more search engines will find it, and if they like what they see, people will keep coming back looking for more.-- Become a blogger. By that, I mean make blogging part of your day. Constantly scan and think about how you can turn everyday experiences into a good blog post. And write all the time – the more you write, the better a writer you become.-- Be human. Write conversationally. Write the way you talk. Avoid corporate-speak. Nobody wants to come to your blog to read a press release. They want to think, to be entertained, to be informed, and to hear what YOU think. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion. That’s how you become a thought leader.-- Be clear. Don’t confuse your readers. When they come to your blog, they should know instantly what they’re getting – who you are, who your company is, what you’re writing about. Use a clean, uncluttered design. Don’t clutter up the blog with a lot of bells and whistles. Keep it simple.-- Edit. Good grammar and spelling won’t win you legions of new fans, but bad grammar and typos will drive readers away FAST. Use spell check and have someone else read what you’ve written before you post it.-- Promote everywhere. Share your posts on Facebook and Twitter. Put your blog URL on business cards. Link to it on your home page. Leave comments on other related blogs. Put links to your blog posts in your e-newsletters. Remember, no one knows you have a blog until you tell them about it.
And CPAs are right there in the thick of things, too. There are hundreds of really good accounting-related blogs out there.
Advice for beginners:That first couple– Blogging Tips for Beginners, from ProBlogger, and How To Start A Blog, from WikiHow – are great. They include links to resources about designing your blogging, finding ideas to write about, choosing a domain name and a blogging platform. Just a ton of great stuff there.
Blogging 101: First Steps to Stardom
Blogging 101: First steps to stardom Bill Sheridan, CAE Business Learning Institute
Bill Sheridan, CAEThe Business Learning Institute
Today’s agenda Introduction to blogs Why should you blog? Benefits of blogging First steps: What you should do What you shouldn’t do Resources for beginners The bottom line Bill Sheridan, CAEThe Business Learning Institute
Video: “Blogs in Plain English,” from CommonCraft.com: bit.ly/ft5NMJ Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
What’s a blog? A Web site of news and commentary that allows readers to comment on what they are reading. Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Why blog? Establish yourcompany as a thoughtleader Reinvent yourmarketing strategy Build communitiesand improve customerrelations Control Expand your brand Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Companies that blog have …• 55 percent more visitors to their official Web sites.• 97 percent more links to their Web sites.• 434 percent more indexed pages. Source: HubSpot Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Video: “Seth Godin and Tom Peters on Blogging,” from Innerpreneur: bit.ly/fK1gUv Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Blogging: What you should do1. Decide:What platform should you use? • Typepad • Wordpress • Blogger • Tumblr • Create a unique URL. Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Blogging: What you should do2. Decide:• What are your goals?• What will you write about?• Who are your bloggers?• Are you committed? Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Blogging: What should you do?3. Understand:Blogging takes time and hard work. • Update frequently, consistently. • Become a blogger. • Be human. • Be clear. • Edit. • Promote everywhere. Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Even more important …What shouldn’t you do? Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
What shouldn’tyou do?1. Expect overnight results.2. Give up.3. Forget to attribute.4. Regurgitate.5. Be a corporate mouthpiece.6. Get sloppy.7. Be someone you’re not.8. Forget to promote.9. Ignore your readers. Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Keys to blogging successContent … … and commitment Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
Advice for beginners• “Blogging tips for beginners,” from ProBlogger: cpa.tc/beginners• “How to start a blog,” from WikiHow: WikiHow.com/Start-a-Blog• “Top 10 blogging tips for beginners,” from BlogHer: cpa.tc/top10tips• “9 tips to start blogging successfully,” from ProBlogger: cpa.tc/9tips• “The Corporate Blogging Book,” by Debbie Weil: www.debbieweil.com/book• “Social Media Strategies for Professionals,” by Michelle Golden: amzn.to/e1N6VJBlogging platforms• Typepad: TypePad.com• WordPress: WordPress.org• Blogger: Blogger.com• Tumblr: Tumblr.comBlog readers• Google Reader: Google.com/Reader• Bloglines: BlogLines.com• FeedReader: FeedReader.com Bill Sheridan, CAE The Business Learning Institute
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