As a “blogmeister” I’m often asked “How personal should I make my blog?”
This is a great question. The answer for everyone is different.
There is no set answer to this question. It’s important to remember that your blog is a living extension of your business, and ultimately you. So keep in mind the image you want to portray, the goals of your blog and what your audience is looking for.
Howard Stern is a good example. Howard is often challenges his audience to “change the channel, no one is making you listen.” It’s part of his image, his schtick. It’s one reason why people do listen. The part of his audience that hates him tunes in because they love to be angry!
Does that model work for your “toy train” online business? I’m not sure. Let’s use the “toy train” business as a “model” (notice the clever play words).
1. Who is my audience?
Your audience ranges from Neil Young (who owns Lionel) to possibly 10 year olds who build and collect model train sets. Their experience level ranges from the new collector/modeler to the experienced hobbyist. This is important in determining the “feel of the read”…are you writing for a 35 year old who wants hard facts and analysis, or a 12 year old who wants to have fun and learn. The beauty of blogging is you can have both. Think about separating categories for your audience. Have Product Reviews, Product Releases, Kids Corner, How to, Ask the Conductor, Tips and Tricks, etc. as specific categories and post accordingly.
2. How and Why Do They Buy?
Does my audience buy on a whim, or do they buy when they “find the solution”? Are new product releases an important feature my audience is looking for? Do “Product Reviews” increase the possibility that a potential customer will pull out their credit card and purchase?
3. What do I find interesting?
This is probably the best indicator of what to write. If you haven’t already, take some time, visit, read and write down what it is you like about the blogs you frequent in your market target. Chances are if you like it, other people will to. Now take your list of “likes” and combine them and create “a better blogtrap”.
4. Why would I read this blog, subscribe, come back or make a buying decision here?
In addition to a blog being a vehicle for you to get your information out there and attract and keep an audience, your blog can become an interactive, user supported community. Think about the features you like on other people’s blog, and maybe even ones that don’t exist. What about having a contest for the best train picture, the coolest design, etc. Let users post their pictures and vote. Offer a prize. Allow members to email and print articles they like. Encourage them to ask and answer questions.
5. Is it fun for me?
Running a successful blog takes time, but you don’t have to become a shut-in. Structure your blog from the beginning to fit your schedule and your passion. Try and post something everyday. Your posts don’t have to be 1,000 words each, they can be about something you learned the day before, big or small. Don’t be afraid to ask your competitors or customers to help you keep the blog going by posting their valuable information. Always give them attribution, or at least a link to their site if they ask. Remember, your blog is a “service” that transcends petty competition. It has no ego, ex-wives, jealous husbands or personal problems. It just wants to be useful and used.
For me, I like to read blogs where the personality of the owner comes out. I read blogs mainly for the strength of the content, technical information or news, but the blogs I return to the most, the ones I subscribe to and pass on to friends and employees are the ones that are fun to read and provide valuable information.
Sometimes the personality of the owner adds a level of trust and intimacy between the reader and the author that raises the articles/posting above the clutter of the Net.
So decide for yourself how personal you want to get.
When deciding what to write for my blog (www.theblogmill.com) I like to pretend I’m Clint Eastwood:
“Did I write 6 posts or only 5. In all the confusion I kinda of lost track myself. But being this is The Blog Mill, the most powerful blog in the world, and will blow your head clean off, I have to ask myself one question ‘Do I feel plucky? Well, do I, punk?’”
So think about what you like, what your audience wants to read and how your personality fits into to your overall blog strategy and start posting.