The Problem with Blogging

Fingers on keyboardThere'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.

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3 Reasons to Use Twitter in Your Educational Marketing

twitterMost companies use Twitter the same way they use advertising – as a one-way communication blast. Although it is easy to set up and manage your Twitter account this way, it is limiting and off-putting to your target audience. They quickly see through your self-serving Tweets, and tune you out. Often, for good. If you think of your website as “information central” and your Twitter account as an “outpost,” gathering and sharing intelligence, then you’ve got the right idea.The three best ways to use Twitter in your marketing are:

 

  • Research
  • Building Awareness
  • Establishing Authority

You can think of research in this sense as keeping your ear to the ground. Educators are talking and sharing on Twitter. They share what’s happening in their classrooms and schools, what they think about education issues, and what they need help with. Twitter is a direct channel to the connected educator…the educator who is actively invested in learning how to be more effective by connecting with other educators across the country. Building a community of interest and awareness of your products is the goal on Twitter. It is not a direct sales channel. As you know, educators are particularly sensitive to marketing spiels. Once they determine you are more interested in selling your stuff than in helping them, they’re gone. They’ll pass right over you.

So, how do you build community and awareness without turning off educators?

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3 Ways to Optimize Your Investment of Time in Social Media

 

Time to go One of the biggest objections to launching a social media plan is concern about the investment of time and money.

Straightforward social media plans do not have to cost a lot of money. You can certainly spend a lot of money, but more expensive does not necessarily equate to more successful.

The largest component of any social media plan is time. Whether it’s your time, a team member’s time or a freelancer’s time, it takes time and lots of it.

There are a number of automation programs that can make social media more efficient: Hoot Suite, Hubspot, and Wildfire are three of the most popular. However, you don’t want to sacrifice engagement and building relationships for greater efficiency. Even the best automation plans require time spent on interaction with your community.

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Insights from ‘The Zen of Social Media Marketing’ Guru Shama Hyder Kabani-a Review

 

front cover of the zen of social media marketingRight at the outset in the book’s introduction, Kabani points out the primary difficulty marketers have with social media. Their challenge is that they’re trying to apply traditional marketing rules to what essentially is a platform outside their control.

Therein, lies the most important lesson for companies struggling to understand social media marketing. The balance of power has shifted to consumers. By the time you become aware of your prospect, your prospect has already acquired massive amounts of information about you. Through search, social media, and recommendations from friends and colleagues, the consumer researches you and your company before you get a chance to say the first word.

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Does the New 80/20 Content Rule Apply to Educational Publishers?

solving problemsYesterday I read that companies should plan to give up to 80% of their content away for free and generate sales and profits from the remaining 20%. As publishers, that seems an unrealistic metric.

Content is our stock and trade. We've invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in developing the best-of-category, and now we should give it away for free?

How is that a viable business model?

Yet more and more companies are allocating larger amounts of their resources each year to this effort as reported by the Content Marketing Institute.

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SEO Series: Part 1 – Why SEO is Important to Educational Publishers

First published February 24, 2008

As the Internet becomes an increasingly mainstream part of everyone's life, connecting with educators, schools and districts online has never been more important to educational publishers than it is right now. Fortunately, the highly interactive nature of today's websites makes it easier than ever to facilitate conversations that highlight the need for your products and also draw visitors deep into your website to investigate your offerings.

But building a strong website isn't enough. K-12 educators and industry decision makers need to be able to easily find your products and services online. Neglecting search-engine optimization strategies (SEO) for your website, means limiting visits to your website and leaving educators unaware of the help that you offer.

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SEO Series: Part 3 – SEO Helps You Deliver Effective Learning Solutions

First published February 26, 2008

SEO is critically important to any business, but especially so to educational publishers. When teachers and educators search for quality content that impacts their students' academic success, they need to find programs and solutions as quickly as possible with as much supporting efficacy evidence as is available.

When SEO is used correctly, you can help ensure that web searchers looking for keywords that are core to their needs and interests will find your web pages at the top of the search engine results.  Appearing at the top of the lists of results assures the searcher that those links will take them to content that is relevant to their informational needs.

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4 Ways to Use Your Blog to Win Over Decision Makers

First published April 11, 2008

As you build up your company blog, one of the primary objectives is to provide information that satisfies the needs of your reader community – customers, prospects and influencers at school sites and district offices. You also want to promote your product offerings as solutions for your community.

On a traditional website, these objectives can be difficult to accomplish without your content coming across as shameless self-promotion. In a blog, the two goals can be done easily in a way that doesn’t turn your readers off.

Here are 4 ways to connect with your blog community while furthering your educational publishing company’s business aims.

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Are you plugged in to your customers’ conversations?

First published June 19, 2008

Do you know where your customers and prospects are? Do you know where they congregate to gather and share information? Do you know that they may be talking about you whether you are there or not?

Online communities facilitate conversation between people of like minds. So what is the cyber equivalent of the back fence for educators? Where can K-12 publishers pick up on the current concerns of teachers and administrators?

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