There's no point in beating around the bush. The main problem with blogs is that they're hard to maintain.
After the first few months, you begin to understand that like anything else, it's work. And not just a little bit of work. It's a lot of work.
I began blogging in 2007 and have been both a faithful and an unfaithful blogger in the time since. However two years of steady writing at a time is the most I've been able to accomplish before falling off the blog wagon.
Oh, there's tons of excuses. I've used them all. But once you stop writing on your blog, it's easier to stay stopped than it is to start again. I've probably spent more time thinking about NOT blogging than I have about what to write in the first place.
My most successful blog was my children's literature blog –Crazy4KidsBooks Upon reflection, I think the reason that blog was successful comes down to three things.
- Clarity – I reviewed children's books. Just for the joy of it. Since things on the Internet never die, the blog is still there. The content is mostly book reviews with an occasional rant about funding school and public libraries. I was totally clear on the blog's purpose and function.
- Community – Once I began, I was almost immediately welcomed into the community of children's literature bloggers. A wonderful ragtag group of teachers, parents, librarians, writers, illustrators, and folks from the publishing industry. And what's not to like about talking books with other readers and finding boxes of books on your doorstep each month?
- Contribution – Although the most popular books might be reviewed on multiple blogs, there was an interesting lack of redundancy between children's book blogs. Each reviewer had their own interests and experience that colored their choice of titles. So together (at that time roughly 500 of us), we produced a large canon of book reviews and opinions that celebrated our love of good stories. They, of course, have continued to create wonderful content in my absence.
So, can I extrapolate anything useful from this experience and apply to my now third refresh of this marketing blog?
At this point I can tell you that being passionate about marketing or even about helping teachers and students is not enough to keep most people showing up at the keyboard for weeks, months, and years.
I think the three points above are actully key success criteria for any blog. It's not enough to love what you do.
It's about finding clarity, building community, and making a contribution.
In our world of educational publishing, being focused and clear about who our community is and how we can help them is the first requirement. What information do they need to accomplish their goals?
Building a community of people who resonate with what we have to share is another key ingredient. Learning and sharing with others is collegial and fun.
By helping educational companies share their customer stories, we contribute to the body of information called 'What Works' in education.
My goal continues to be helping educational companies tell their stories about changing the lives of teachers and students. In restarting this blog, I'm going to keep in mind the three lessons from above – finding clarity, building community, and making a contribution.
We'll see if I can beat my two-year blogging record by sharing successful marketing strategies with educational publishers and providers.