To Blog or Not to Blog, that Is the Question: Part I

Coincidentally, as the women of WIC worked to launch our first blog — to coincide with WIC’s 10th anniversary celebration on October 16 — two different articles on blogging reached my inbox. One was from a favorite e-newsletter of mine, the Rainmaker Report by RainToday.com, and the other came from the Silicon Valley WebGuild.

Look Before You Leap (Aka Plan Before You Blog)
Michael W. McLaughlin, contributing editor at RainToday.com, urges consultants to ask some key questions before they commit to starting a blog. Very practical advice, actually; and thankfully, we (WIC) answered these questions before we took the leap.

One in particular resonated with me, because it cuts to the heart of what WIC is all about — collaboration and support: “If your practice includes other consultants, could you tap them for help with blog content? Would you be able to rotate the writing assignments for your blog with others?”

As WIC’s director of marketing and PR, I was charted to get this puppy off the ground. And the first thing I did was tap my fellow WIC board members to help generate content. That’s how we tackle everything at WIC — together. And I’ve found that this approach carries over to our businesses as well.

In fact, we believe community is so key to a consultant’s success that we’ve devoted an entire category to the concept of successful virtual teams. So, if you’re thinking of starting a blog, I can think of no better way to get your toes wet than to collaborate with your fellow consultants.

Blogging Easy? Not Exactly.
Another five little words from Michael also captured my attention: “It’s easy to get started….” On that, I have to disagree — a little. Sure, it’s easy to set up a blog in WordPress. And, yes, it just takes a computer, a bit of writing skills, and virtually no capital outlay. But easy? Not exactly.

To launch a successful blog takes some planning, which Michael clearly suggests in his questions to ask. But if your blog is truly going to be a marketing tool and you want it gain traction, there’s some other upfront work that’s well worth the labor.

Determining the keywords you want to target, assessing whether you can gain traction in those areas, limiting yourself to a handful — yes only a handful — of beachhead categories, and uncovering all the various alternatives to include as subcategories under the beachheads takes time. And it’s time well spent. Oh, and it’s interesting, too. But, I thank God that we’ve the talents of Celeste Bishop on our side to guide WIC through this process.

And the keywords are just the beginning. After you launch the site, you want to continue to refine your keywords. At the same time, you need to scope out the ecosystem in which your blog lives, taking the time to comment on other people’s blogs as well. That’s what blogging is, one big conversation. And to be heard above the din requires you to not just talk at your house, but others’ as well.

So Should Consultants Blog? You Bet!
None of what I wrote here is meant to scare you off from blogging. It’s just a bit of guidance — from someone currently going through the process — to say think it through and be prepared. It can be a very successful component to your overall marketing plan, whether you’re starting a consulting business, running a consulting business, or looking to grow your consulting business.

Oh, and make sure to follow one of Michael’s other pieces of advice: “You often hear bloggers say that blogs invite informal writing, and that typos and grammatical errors come with the territory. Maybe that’s okay for Max the Golden Retriever [read his article to understand this reference], but it’s the kiss of death if you are marketing a high-end professional services business.”

avery@aveconsulting.com' About Avery Horzewski

Principal of AVE Consulting, Avery is a marketing and customer communications consultant, and serves on WIC's board of directors as president. As a consultant, she works with companies of all sizes to develop compelling, persuasive, and effective customer-centric marketing and communication strategies that encompass everything from websites to social media to print collateral. Avery assumed the role of WIC president in January 2010, after overseeing the organization’s marketing, PR, social media, and website initiatives for three years.

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