If you’re not online then you’re losing traction (and clients) to the professionals cultivating a strong online presence through the act of blogging. The Internet is a communication ecosystem that amplifies the effect of lucrative referrals with “word-of-mouse spread[ing] even faster than word-of-mouth,” according to a Harvard Business School study, The Economics of E-Loyalty.
An Example of Traction Through Blogging
There had been a lawsuit involving a wrestler suing the WWE. I pulled the actual contract, put it online and discussed it, from a legal perspective, in the blog. It was picked up all over the place by wrestling blogs, news blogs and media nationwide. I had 20,000 hits in a day–50,000 in a week—it was huge. That’s when I realized just how far this blog could go.
Back then, Schwartz measured his initial success in numbers, but today he uses a different barometer. For him, blogging is all about building relationships:
In the early stages of blogging, you tend to pay more attention to the stats than you should. As you mature as a blogger, you look less at the stats and more at the relationships and contacts that are coming from your blog posts. While it’s easy to get caught up in SEO, it’s really not about quantity. Blogging is an enhancement to networking–a way to reach and build one-on-one relationships with people you might never otherwise reach. You can check in, follow, and join conversations in an unobtrusive way.
In one case, Schwartz received an interesting blog comment from a local company’s in-house legal counsel. He followed up on the comment and eventually met that individual for lunch. Six months later, the company was sued, and the in-house counsel referred the business to him.
This is only one example of the kind of meaningful relationships that can be built through a blog. For me, there have been many, many others. I would say that one-fourth to one-third of my new business has some connection to my blog.
Other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest or the next flavor-of-the-month are secondary to a blog. Savvy bloggers use these platforms to share and amplify their blog content. To own your blog is to control your professional destiny. That’s not just my view. Here are three key points from other respected authorities making the case for owning your own blog:
1) Blogging Is More Essential Than Ever
…[F]or organizations and individuals that want to be known for their ideas, the clearest–yet most underrated–path is through blogging. It hasn’t been buzzed about in years, but it’s more essential than ever…
If you want to shape public opinion, you need to be the one creating the narrative. A fascinating study last year by Yahoo Research showed that only 20,000 Twitter users (a mere .05% of the user base at the time) generated 50% of all tweets consumed. A small number of “elite users” sets the conversational tenor, just as in the general world of blogging.
An article lives forever on the web and will be seen around the world.
Writing is still the clearest and most definitive medium for demonstrating expertise on the web. …In an information-hungry world, there will always be a need for expert content. And there will always be more readers and “retweeters” than there will be creators.
If you want to have an impact, you might as well be the one setting the agenda by blogging your ideas.
2) Blogging Answers The Long Tail of Search And Social
When you set up your blog as a “hub” for your social strategy, you are best positioned to benefit most from all that top-of-funnel awareness.
With a blog, you have assets to feed each stream in a way that when you do something that matters, you won’t have to worry so much about changes in platforms. You are free to step back and focus on the big-picture things that matter, like an editorial vision.
…Blogs let you think user-centric, not platform-centric.
Without blogging, it is difficult to build an ever-increasing amount of content to be discovered via search engines and shared via social. …[E]ach time you publish a blog post, you make it so significant that the industry takes notice.
A perfect example of a brand doing this well is Tesla. Each time they have news, their blog is the central place where it’s shared and whatever is published is amplified not just by social but media of all types. It’s worth following them as an example of a brand that understands the importance of self-publishing and a model you could follow.
Call it blogging, digital publishing, or whatever you prefer: you’ve been able to publish your own ideas, in any format you like, wrapped in your own template, with full access to analytics and ability to monetize how you see fit (or use it to generate organic leads to equal revenue later) and distribute across search, social, and email since the Web existed.
…To give your best content over to someone else as the canonical place makes as little sense now as it ever did. To amplify and share your ideas in OPPs (Other People’s Platforms) in a way that adds value and is efficient for you is the smartest path to digital success.
3) Build Your Blog On A Home Base That You Control
…[W]hen it comes to your platform, you can’t afford to build your house on a rented lot. And Facebook continues to teach the same lesson.
Like Twitter, Facebook is an important part of my platform. But it’s not integral. It’s too fickle for that. Owners make rules, not tenants. And Facebook owns the lot.
I was an early adopter and advocate of social media. I still am. But I encourage everyone interested in growing a platform to begin with a home base that you control. Use other services to expand your reach, but build your house on your own lot.
Few things in life are truly stable, but some things are more stable than others. I bought MichaelHyatt.com in 1998. It’s been through a lot of iterations, but it’s always been mine. Ownership provides stability because you set the rules.
This means that you post your primary content on your own blog.
Make Your Splash In The Blogosphere
The online world is a big opportunity for you, provided you develop a sustainable strategy. Turning the digital dials in your favor starts with creating great content.
A professional blog signals your passion, authority and expertise, especially when you share and distribute your blog content on other social media platforms in appropriate ways. That helps Google discover you. Google, in turn, helps you get discovered by others.
All this helps you build meaningful relationships that drive your business development. Just make sure you own and control your blog like the above comments from Clark, Singer and Hyatt underscore. Remember:
- Blogging is more essential than ever.
- Blogging answers the long tail of search and social.
- Build your blog on a home base that you control.
I leave you with seven blogging tips from Schwartz:
- Be genuine
- Don’t actively sell
- Narrow your focus
- Provide information of real value to your readers
- Let your personality come through your writing
- Write in plain English–without case cites and lawyer-speak
- Write for content–not SEO
Building an online persona that equals or exceeds your offline reputation is a marathon, not a sprint. Focus on quality content and long-term connections. As Adam Singer says, “What’s popular is typically easy, but what’s easy isn’t always what produces the best results.”
How are you controlling your online destiny? Do you control the platform that serves as the hub of your digital presence? If not, you risk being S.O.L.