I’m not a fan of blogs.

Contradictory coming from someone who is in the process of writing a post for one. It all goes back to first impressions, most of which were NOT good and left me believing many are nothing more than

ONE: a thinly veiled attempt at self-promotion, or

TWO: an irrelevant play-by-play account of someone’s day.

I resisted exacting either on a blog audience for a long time. Who really cares about how many cups of coffee I drank this morning, which flavored variety I chose, or how many times I had to run to the bathroom because of it??? Even after kicking off a blog of my own, I remained a reluctant poster.

After arguing my reservations with many fellow writers, speakers and bloggers, I’ve given some ground. There is a brighter side of blogdom and I confess both my relational and sales selves see the potential: geographically unlimited networking and relationship building, opportunity for positive influence and change, exposure of organizations and people with little or no voice, and a forum for regular writing and interacting with others in with similar pursuits. And (my personal favorite), it’s a great way for us to get to know each other. Score.

Still, my business side holds firmly to three components of an effective blog:

  • Know your audience: If your blogging readership consists of Mom, Dad, your neighbor and best friend, then posting about your new puppy’s potty training mishaps is a great idea. You might even want to throw in some pics. On the other hand, if your goal is to develop a wider base of readers or a market for your books or a speaking platform for a new ministry, your blog needs to offer more than personal anecdotes. Deliver some kind of tangible benefit to those who stop by for a visit. And then go ahead and share puppy pics.
  • Know the need: Who are you trying to reach and what is their greatest need? If your blog is primarily for your own benefit, this is irrelevant. If your intent is other-focused and you want to invest in real people, then make sure you go to great lengths to get to know them. Determine what your reader is looking for, and then do whatever you can to meet real needs in an authentic way.
  • Know your product: What do you bring to the table that is both fresh and unique? Is it humor? The ability to entertain? A knack for storytelling? Expertise on a certain topic? An unusual or exciting life? Spiritual direction? Resources and connections? Ask yourself what you can give away for free that will entice a visiting blog reader to continually come back for more.

If you’re blogging for recreation, please disregard everything I’ve just said. Write, share, dialogue and then write some more. If, however, your goal is to expand your audience and sphere of influence, be diligent about building your blog at the intersection of the need and what you have to offer. That’s precisely where people–and ideas–come together.

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