What should you be blogging about? Well let me answer with that question with another question. Who is your audience? Now if you’re blogging as a business then part of your audience should be your customers and prospects. However even Wiggly Wigglers founder Heather Gorringe admitted recently that in a practical sense she could only supply customers in the UK even though her blog/podcast audience reached much further.
You want to be covering the topics your audience are interested in, while pointing out how your products and/or services can help them… but without sounding like an advertisement!
How do you know what your audience is talking about?
By following your audience on social media sites like Twitter. Follow the flow of conversation. If one dilemma, question or concern keeps coming up – maybe you should be blogging about it?
By setting up Google alerts with keywords relating to the brands and issues you represent.
By subscribing and reading other relevant blogs. Don’t be afraid to tackle a topic another blog (even a prominent blog) has already addressed. You will have unique contributions to make to the discussion as well as an opportunity to offer your product/service – which should (hopefully) be a unique solution to these issues!
Don’t limit your research to just text blogs however… Check out video sites like YouTube and podcast directories like iTunes. If a video has hundreds and thousands of views, or a podcast is highly ranked in a podcast directory, there is obviously interest there! [If a video offers something you can’t – or don’t wish to – reproduce, consider sharing it with your readers anyway. It is easy to embed most videos into blog entries.]
Ask your audience. This is often overlooked but there is great power in just asking your audience – whether on social media, in a blog post or in a podcast – what would you like to know? What are you struggling with? What do you need more information about?
Find out what questions have already been asked on other websites. Sites like Yahoo Answers are set up exclusively for people to pose questions and suggest responses. Yahoo Answers has a list of categories and I’m sure one of them will contain questions about your area of expertise. [There is even an opportunity to answer a question briefly on that site and include a link to your own blog with more detailed information in the ‘sources’ section.]
Please Note: There is also a Google Answers site. This website has been discontinued so isn’t as useful as an opportunity to answer questions and produce links to your blog, however the archives are still available so it might be useful from a research perspective.
News Media – online, newspapers, television, radio – may cover subjects that relate to your area of expertise. If the mass media carries a story this means a lot of people will have encountered it. There may be a great opportunity for new visitors to your blog here. If you have already covered the subject don’t be afraid to create a new blog entry identifying the publicised case/event and include links to earlier information.
Specialised Media – niche sites and blogs, books, magazines, industry publications, specialised (often cable) television shows – will cover topics that relate to your area of speciality. If an editorial, new technique or technology causes a lot of excitement/fear/speculation you should be covering that too.
By reading your blog’s comments. This is a no-brainer. If people read your blog entry and have further questions then why not share your thoughts and answers not just with the person who asked for more information but with ALL of your readers?
By checking your inbox. Do you have questions, information and announcements that would benefit your readers? Share that information with your readers!
By attending relevant events and trade shows. As well as being just a great networking opportunity, events and trade shows give you the ability to report back to all those people who wish they were there but aren’t able to attend. Just take a look at the recent coverage of MacWorld for example. Blogging live from an event (where capabilities exist) can provide your readers with a sense of immediacy and relevance they will really appreciate.
Find existing online communities. Discover what they are discussing. Consider investigating any relevant communities that might exist within Google Groups, Yahoo Groups and NING Networks. (Google groups incorporate twenty year’s worth of usenet newsgroup postings – something to remember if you need a historical perspective on anything, particularly technical subjects.)
Finally I’d like to offer one caveat. Just because your audience isn’t talking about something don’t automatically assume it won’t be of interest to them. They may not be aware of the issue or its implications, and as an expert in your field you should use your own judgment to determine what you write about. Who knows you might be responsible for breaking a hot topic or news item?