Unravelling the mysteries of online blogging…

For some of us, the world of blogging is a myriad of jargon – microblogging, widgets and SEO – just what exactly does it all mean, why should we share our innermost thoughts and just how do people make money out of “a hobby”? More importantly why, as PAs, is this a topic for you?

Creating a blog, as a PA, is the perfect opportunity for you to do one of several things… become an ambassador for the industry, showcase your copywriting talent – which will assist you in developing your career path – develop marketing skills which can steer both your career and that of the company you work for and, lastly, it could also support you with an additional income, if you choose to take it in that direction.

Blogging is a fantastic way to push causes you believe in and share your passions and opinions, whatever they may be, with the World Wide Web.

But first things first, who wants to hear what you have to say? Well, that all depends on your goals – who do you want to read it? How are you going to promote yourself, and what is the reasoning behind your blog?

Let’s start by explaining some of the common jargon:

  • Widget – this is where you can add a small display of a programme within your webpage, usually situated in the sidebar. It’s usually a shortcut to another application. For example, you might want to display your twitter feed on the screen, so you can add a bit of code into the webpage and it will display a small window which has your most recent tweets showing. From this window you can click into it and it will take you to the Twitter programme.
  • SEO – Search Engine Optimisation. This term encompasses the techniques used to help promote a website within search engines such as google or bing. By optimising your website/blog you stand a better chance of visitors finding, visiting and sharing your site online.
  • Meta descriptions – A meta description is the short sentence or paragraph of text you see displayed in the search results. It’s vitally important therefore that this concisely and accurately reflects what your site is about.
  • Tags – Tags are a way of categorising your blogs. They tell the reader what each specific blog is about and also help people find content that they might want to read about in your blogs much easier.
  • Keywords – These are specific, refined words and phrases, relevant to the subject matter you’re writing about. Having good keywords in your blogs ensures the search engines can pick up your content and start to rank your blog in the search results (ideally as near to the first page as possible).
  • Google or site analytics – By setting up some form of tracking on your blog, you’ll easily be able to see details on exactly the number of people visiting your website, how they found you, where they came from, what pages they read most and, in turn, what pages they leave. All useful information that can help you to hone the content you add (or remove) on an ongoing basis.

Here are several tips to help you get your blog up and running, and heading in the right direction:

1 Concept is key

What do you love? Be it work or play, blogs are an effective way of showcasing your copywriting skills – which can be beneficial in most roles. The concept behind your blog will help you to build a following of people who are genuinely interested in what you have to say, so choose your topic/s carefully. Not only will you need to be prepared to write content on these topics, on a pretty regular basis, you will also have to be poised to respond to comments and, from time to time, criticisms.

The key is to really drill down to your passions, and tie this in to how you are wanting to advance yourself. Think about things you would want to read yourself, and start to imagine yourself in your audience’s shoes.

By choosing your concept carefully from the outset, you will be able to create an effective marketing strategy in order to ensure people read, share and comment on your blog.

2 Do your research

What are other bloggers in your area writing about? Start having a look at your potential competitors and review the posts which are most topical and commented on. Start to research who your competitors will be – even if you are just doing this for fun. Who else is blogging on your topic? Then start to think about how you could start to work together. Can you partner up by offering some guest blogs whilst you start up, and continue by sharing some content once you’re established?

Once you have got to know your market, the language and tone that “talks” to them and the type of comments you can expect, you will have a good grounding to begin writing some of your first posts.

Writing is one thing – and essentially the passion will have to come from you, but the technical bit is something that you can get help with!

3 Look and play the part!

Dressed up Intelligence may sound like some form of false advertising, but what you really need to ensure here is that your site talks the talk in both copy and visual content, as well as the intelligent “behind the scenes” technical aspects including SEO, tagging and meta descriptions.

The techy parts behind the scenes are what you need to develop effectively in order for your blogs to be found, read and shared. The beauty of this is, it can all be learnt, or if you really want to, you can pay someone else to help you! The more research you have done in the initial stages the easier it’ll be to learn the tips and techniques which will increase the visibility of your blogs – meaning more and more people will see them.

Getting to grips with SEO is always a bonus though. As for most businesses with websites, understanding the fundamentals behind search engine optimisation will enable you to not only write your own blog content with ease – filling it with relevant keywords and descriptions – but it will also help you to suggest ideas within your role as a PA.

4 Get social!

I’m hoping by now this is your favourite “to do” – I cannot tell you how many articles I have not only written, but also read where people are screaming from the rooftops about just how crucial social media is to your personal profile, as well as for business promotion. Whilst most social platforms are steering businesses towards advertising, social media is still the largest “free” online promotional tool out there – and what can be better than word of mouth promotion?

Connect all of your social media platforms to your blog, and ensure that each time you blog, you share your posts across your platforms. Create custom urls which are uniform across each platform making it as easy as possible to build “fans and followers” across all of your social media channels, help them find and follow you.

Take to Instagram to capture some arty shots and fill your posts with hashtags to boost your visibility.

Once you’ve put all of that hard work into your blog, you need to make sure you get as many views as possible – as that is what counts in terms of “authoritative value”.

5 Don’t be shy

You started your blog with passion and purpose – so don’t be shy in revisiting your initial aims, and taking your blog one step further. If you set out to prove your copywriting skills were second to none – send your boss, or the marketing department a link to your blog – offer yourself up as an extra pair of hands if they need some content creating.

Alternatively, if you’re thinking about taking the leap to work for yourself, or fancy your chances at making some money for your blog, map out a strategy, and start writing advertising proposals – they do say if you don’t ask, you don’t get…

Whatever your vision is for your blog, or even if you just want to get to grips with what this blogging malarkey is all about, start reading, expand your mind, and even try out a course or two. You never know – you might just like it!

Claire Lister is the former Owner of Pitman Training Group (www.pitman-training.com). Pitman is a market leader in the PA and secretarial training industry, delivering exceptional results for tens of thousands of students each year. Pitman also provide ... (Read More)

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