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Blogging: It's Fun, It's (Somewhat) Free, But It's Work
By Anne Holland



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(Editor's note: Blogging, the art and practice of producing a Weblog, has been covered before in Ezine-Tips as a strategy for expanding your audience and keeping readers up to date between editions. Marketingsherpa.com Publisher Anne Holland puts the principles into practice with two Blogs she maintains daily, in addition to overseeing production of a full weekly schedule of email newsletters on content creation and marketing case studies. We're not sure when, if ever, she sleeps.)

When Janet Roberts emailed over last week to ask me to write something about Blogging, I was (a) too busy and (b) waaaay too busy. But, I can't help it, you guys are my peers, and Blogging is incredible, and I just had to share. (Plus of course, who doesn't love Janet?)

Here's the scoop:

Blogging started a few years ago (for more formal history, see the link below) as way for folks to write little comments about linked stuff they found online. It's now more of an online diary/journal tool. It's basically a content-management tool so easy to use that it encourages you to dash off quick notes on your site whenever the spirit moves. Several different companies offer Blogging tools, but all are (despite being wildly popular) so close to non-profitability as to be non-profits.

Blogs are great for ezine publishers, especially those of us who have a fairly formal and/or formulaic editorial format. In my case it's Internet marketing case studies. Sources would give me tips that didn't fit in format, or I would yearn to comment on things that I had no format-OK way of commenting on. So, for me editorially, Blogging came as an enormous relief, kind of akin to wearing your old jeans when you've gained weight, and suddenly being able to pop open that top button. Whew!

The fantastic -- and totally unexpected -- factor was reader response. In the beginning, the Blog was for me. By the end of the first week, the Blog was for my readers.

Bear in mind, my two Blogs don't have enormous readership. A hundred-thousand weekly readers see my Company's formal newsletters. Just a few thousand read the Blogs. But, oh my gosh, do they count! They are our top fans, the heart and soul of our reader base, the folks who make a difference. I can publish a kick-*** Case Study in one of our formal newsletters and in return get a couple of reader letters. I post a tiny note in my Blog and get loads of notes in response.

I think itís because people feel the single human being behind the Blog is more approachable than the editorial team behind our other content.

So, yes, a Blog might make a great editorial extension for ezine publishers with formal editorial layouts, especially trade ezines with expert editors who would love a chance to sound off. You can use a Blog as a reader Q&A, an OpEd column and a spot to pop in the news that counts but doesn't fit.

Be prepared, though, for three challenges:

  1. Email version requests
    Within a week of launching my first Blog, I had emails from readers begging me to email it to them so they didn't have to remember to go back to the site daily for updates. (We immediately set up Blog lists so they could subscribe to a weekly compiled version and now are dealing with reader-lobbyists who want it to be daily.)

  2. No vacation
    Some readers really like to surf by the Blog every day. And, if there's nothing new .... Unlike traditional publications, you can't get somebody else to cover for you if you're sick or on vacation, because the whole point of a Blog is a distinctive personal voice. (I actually keep a little file of Blog ideas so if I'm stumped one week, I've got something at hand.)

  3. True reader interactivity
    A Blog is somewhere between an ezine and a discussion group. Which means, editors from traditional print backgrounds may have nervous breakdowns dealing with the reader feedback. Readers can sniff out a faux-Blog (looks like a Blog but it's actually just an op-ed column with purposely bad grammar) a mile off.

But on the good side, Blogging is still free (for the most part; Blogger.com just instituted a Blogger Pro paid version promising more features and reliability, although Blogger Founder Evan Williams says the free service will remain.)

Get your own free Blog at Blogger.com or pitas.com
History of Blogging
Past Ezine-Tips on Blogging:
Blogging for Success
Web Logs as Content Tools

Tip contributed by Anne Holland,
publisher MarketingSherpa.com
"Formal" newsletters at http://www.marketingsherpa.com
New media industry Blog at http://contentbiz.Blogspot.com
Online marketing Blog at http://sherpaBlog.Blogspot.com

Ezine-Tips for January 28, 2002

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