We have read your blog

One thing I’ve heard much more ever since joining the world of public relations and started pitching (read: selling) new business is people saying, “Oh, we’ve read your blog”. At first glance, this appears to be simple due diligence – prospective customers have read the blog, excellent, we share some common understanding.

Seattle 2013

But that got me thinking – there’s more here that’s being said, more that underscores the importance of having not just a blog, but a great blog. We often think of our blogs as part of the content marketing engine – crank out some content that has a home you own so that you can share it on your social media outposts. We tend to think of individual posts as granular, individual, discrete segments.

We forget that the blog is also a legacy and a big picture view of our entire body of work over time. That portfolio is something people looking to hire you (or your company) will leaf through as though they were meeting you for the first time and getting a sense of what you’re all about, and they’ll encounter great, good, mediocre, and poor posts all at the same time.

That’s why it’s critical that your content not suck, that you not just phone it in. Better to skip posting than to post something bad, because when that prospective customer starts reading, you want them to run face-first into a wall of awesome.

Here’s a tip, a production secret I use on this blog: I’ll go through my analytics for previous years and identify the posts that never really hit the mark and rewrite them, especially on days when I can’t write something “new” due to time or constraints. I’ll then go back, redirect, and erase the old post from the back catalog. This accomplishes two goals: fresh content that’s good (because my writing skills have logically improved through the years) and elimination of underperforming content that someone really doing their homework might unearth.

Remember this above all else: when someone is checking out your blog for the first time, they’re probably going to look at more than one post and see a bigger picture than a regular reader. Make sure that what they’re likely to see is worth their time.


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Make your very old content work for you

I was trolling through my analytics (as I often do when I have a spare moment) recently and noticed something funny.

Pages_-_Google_Analytics-4

Even though it’s been more than 6 years since I started this blog, very old posts are still getting traffic, still getting searched and found, like this post on how your music collection can protect your mind.

That post still works for me in a couple of ways, because one of the simplest things I’ve done over the years is create shortcodes in WordPress that are dynamic.

Take a look at the bottom of the post. Even though this post was written 5 years ago, it’s promoting my current newsletter and book. When I change out the short code’s contents in the future, all of my old posts will be updated retroactively, which means the post will continue to work for me, continue to promote current things, even if I never touch the content again.

Accomplishing this is simple: find a blogging plugin for your platform of choice that allows you to insert a shortcode at the end of your posts. If you don’t have one available, consider writing a simple HTML file that you drop on your web server and then include by any standard means of including external content. PHP folks will likely use the include() function. If you’re on WordPress, my recommendation is Shortcode Exec; you’ll find more details here.

Check your analytics for pages and content that go far back, and see if there are opportunities for you to make that content work for you again.


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Do you read this blog on Google Reader? Get the newsletter instead!

Chris Brogan & Penn #pcb6

As friend and fellow blogger Chris Brogan did, so am I: if you read this blog on Google Reader, it’s going away on July 1. How else can you get the blog? Well, you can bet that Feedburner is in the crosshairs for Google next, so don’t go there. Instead:

1. Subscribe to my newsletter. You’ll get a recap every week on Sunday night (or Monday) of what I’ve blogged, and as a bonus, it’s what I’ve blogged on multiple sites, not just this one.

2. Follow me on the social network(s) of your choice:

Twitter
Facebook
LinkedIn
Google+

3. Share this idea by linking either Chris’ post or this one to your friends and doing a similar one on your blog. This post will be shared frequently, probably once a week, until the lights go out on Google Reader.

4. If all else fails, bookmark this site.


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