How to Blog Like Mike
Back in 1993, Michael Jordan was at the height of his professional basketball career. He had completed three straight championship seasons with the Chicago Bulls, and had established his reputation as a top player both on offense and defense, including getting the moniker, "Air Jordan." Building off that fame, Gatorade launched a tremendously successful ad campaign starring Jordan, with the simple premise of "Be Like Mike."
In the ad, which you can see below, it is suggested that drinking Gatorade will make budding basketball players more like the NBA star.
Now, I am not deliberately trying to draw a comparison between myself and Michael Jordan in terms of stardom. Far from it. Jordan's accomplishments on and off the court are incredible. But many have marveled at my ability to quickly create and publish blog posts that are helpful and interesting, and have gone so far as to tag some of their comments with #BeLikeMike. And since I would much rather compare myself to Michael Jordan and the Gatorade commercial, rather than the "Mikey Likes It" commercial for Life cereal, that's what we're going with. Ready? OK. Here's how to:
Blog Like Mike - Preparation
I think you will find that out of all the steps and techniques I am going to outline, this first is the most important. And isn't that like virtually every other business or thing you set out to do. Preparation is the key.
In Blogging, preparation includes the following:
Make sure that you have an appropriate platform in place. I could (and have) spent an entire post talking about choosing the right platform for your blog and how to set it up, but at a basic level, you simply want to make sure that you have a website that you can easily update yourself add content, and have some basic blogging features included automatically with every blog post. These can include social sharing buttons, categorization of posts, SEO options, and so on.
I will go into more detail on distribution in a moment, but there is a lot of preparation that goes into promoting blog posts. You must have social network profiles in place on which to share your posts. You must have an email newsletter and a signup form on your site so that you can communicate new articles to readers who have expressed interest. There are many more ways to promote your posts, but they all require some initial setup.
The Evernote Blog Notebook
If there's one thing that I depend on, one secret that I can share with you, it's EVERNOTE. This entire blog post was written in Evernote - and on an iPad!
Let me break that down for you:
First, if you haven't used it, Evernote is an app that you can install on your computer and any of your devices. It's free unless you need some of the premium features. Once installed, you organize it into different notebooks, and within each notebook you create notes. You can also tag notes, giving you a variety of ways to sort and find notes.
So while I use Evernote for client notes, form letters and all kinds of other uses, I have an entire notebook just for Blogs.
The first note is for Blog Topics. This is a simple running list of blog ideas that I will return to and brainstorm ideas on a regular basis. While a great many of my posts are written because I am inspired to write them at that time, whenever I want to write and don't have anything specific in mind, I have a place to start.
The rest of the notebook notes are blog posts in assorted stages of writing.
- Some notes are just Titles of blog posts.
- Some notes are a Titles and notes or a few paragraphs.
- Some notes are blog posts that are almost finished, or finished and waiting to be published.
So being able to easily refer to your ideas and in-progress posts when you need to is an incredible tool.
But even more importantly, serious bloggers need to be able to think like a blogger. That means that wherever you are, if something inspires you, you need to be able to at least make a note of it, if not actually do some writing. For me, that happens all the time on the weekends when we're out and about. I may be driving or perhaps waiting for my wife to do some shopping. I cannot stress how valuable it has been to me to be able to whip out my iPhone and tap in a few notes or ideas. And for times when I am out of the office but have more downtime I can use my iPad to do more extensive writing, as I have here. This entire article was written in Evernote for iPad and I just copied and pasted it into a new blog post on my site when I was ready to publish it.
One other aspect of Evernote that a reader reminded me of is the fact that, once I publish a post, I change that note's Notebook and Tags within Evernote to a different notebook just for archived content. This ensures that whenever I open my Blogging notebook, all I will see are those notes and ideas which are still in progress. When I'm looking for a blog post to work on or publish, I don't want to have to sift through a hundred old posts that are already Live.
Blog Like Mike - Polish
After you write your blog post, the next step is to edit it ruthlessly. Polish it. And I will be the first to admit this is an area that I continue to work to improve. The idea is that many blog posts will become easier to read and consume if they're edited and trimmed down significantly.
Just as important is making sure that you've used excellent grammar and flawless spelling throughout your post. Check and recheck your blog post so that your readers don't get confused or distracted by basic errors.
Next, unlike other writing mediums, great blogging also means including links to other sites and resources within the text of your post. How often do you link to other articles and topics you've written in the past? In SEO parlance this is refered to as deep linking, and it's something great bloggers do consistently. By providing links at key points within your text to more information, you provide additional value to your readers and create opportunities for them to find new articles and spend more time on your site.
Did you include a Call To Action? Somewhere within your post or at the end should be a clear invitation to the reader to next a next step. Call them to take an appropriate action, whether that's to subscribe to your newsletter, contact you or something else. It's easy to get caught up in what you're writing about and forget that crucial element!
Finally, if I didn't already have an image picked out and created specifically for the blog post, this is when I work on that. It's critical to have a primary image that is conceptually associated with the topic you're writing about. Furthermore, the images today must have text overlaid so that they will play perfectly on both Google+ and Pinterest.
Blog Like Mike - Promotion
Once you have a new article published and ready to go, the next step is to promote it. For this, I do have one key article to refer you to: How I Promote My New Blog Posts - it contains 25 of the steps I take to promote each new post and get the maximum reach for posts. But there are a few takeaways:
Leverage the power of Google+ to cultivate an interested following by sharing great content and taking the time to introduce that content in a powerful, compelling way.
Constantly test and review your distribution channels and be on the lookout for new options. These might include developing social networks, online tools and services, and even personal relationships with influencers.
Blog Like Mike - Practice
So here's the really tough part: it takes time to be a great blogger. And again, I am not saying I'm there yet either. But if you think I am further along than you, sheer volume is likely one major reason why.
Throughout most of 2013, I was personally writing 6 - 10 blog posts a week. I had a publishing schedule of at least one post per day, Monday through Saturday. Most days, I would have an article or blog post written, and then tackle any news or developments that came up as a news story.
I can't stress enough how much the practice of newsjacking has helped me, both in readership and in blog writing skill. When there's an event or story taking place that is related to your business and potentially impacts your clients or industry, taking advantage of that and writing about requires you to drop what you're doing and write a blog post. You have to convey the facts as well as provide value by relating the story to your readers - answering the question, why should they care? And when you decide to write stories like this, you're immediately put on a deadline. You simply can't afford to publish a news story a day or two later - that's too late.
Blog Like Mike - Patience
If you don't have the flexibility to newsjack, or can't devote the time needed to write at that frequency, that's OK! You simply have to understand that your development as a blogger will simply take a little longer. It's like going to a Night School vs. being a Full Time College Student. Both students can get the same degree eventually, but the one attending night school will usually take longer.
And even if you are blogging twice a day or more, it will still take time to improve. It will take time to develop an avid, interested readership, and it is the feedback of readers that will truly make you a great blogger. This is one of the reasons I strongly recommend that my clients have comments enabled on their site, so that they're always encouraging engagement and feedback. Bloggers who are active on Google+ are achieving must the same thing already.
So be patient with your blogging. Continue to write whenever you can. Publish as frequently as you're able (though we can have a separate discussion about whether someone can publish too often.) Read and respond to the comments and questions posed by your readers, and also keep an eye out for other bloggers to connect with and read. It's important that as you practice your writing, you also seek out external sources to "sharpen the axe" as Dr. Covey would say. I would never pretend to know everything there is to know about blogging, so I have RSS feeds from some truly great writers plugged into my Feedly and HootSuite accounts for my own reading, and to also share with my readers and followers.
Following these techniques may not make you the Michael Jordan of blogging, but you can definitely #BeLikeMike if you want to continue to grow your blog and content marketing as I have.
And if you'd like some one-on-one schooling on the court, gimme a call.
Image courtesy of karma17, Flickr.
By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."