Few things say “spring” like the start of baseball season – from the timeless charm of catching a game at Wrigley Field to a perfect afternoon watching a college game in Austin, Texas. So as the weather finally starts to warm, it’s time to take some cues from America’s favorite pastime in taking our blogging efforts to the next level. Ready, slugger?
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play
Every kid who grows up playing baseball dreams of making it to the Big Leagues. Similarly, many of us with a love of writing dream of making it to the Chicago Tribune, copywriting for a Fortune 50 company or becoming the next big-time blogger. Few of us will reach those heights, but here are some tips straight from the dugout for maximizing your blogging potential.
Get lots of batting practice: In blogging, this translates to reading – lots and lots of reading. Read the major blogs in your area of business and discover the emerging bloggers who will be tomorrow’s thought leaders. You also need to spend the time reading everything that’s written on your own blog. Let all those thoughts germinate so that you when you step up to the plate, you know exactly what pitches you can hit.
Read the manager’s signs: Yep, that’s the guy with the glasses standing over there frowning. He’s your company’s marketing manager or social media manager and he’s got a vision for what he wants to do with your company’s blog, what topics interest readers the most and how all your company’s previous blog posts have performed. Pick his brain about blog titles and topics. Ask him to share his blog analytics so you can see for yourself what is resonating with your audience.
Maximize your Slugging Percentage: Whether you end up on base or not, make sure you’re making contact with the baseball. In blogging, that means performing adequate research, engaging readers in your writing and taking the time to edit your work. The outfielder might catch your ball, but at least you’ve given yourself a chance at a big hit because you’re gone through the correct process: keeping your eye on the ball (research), swinging your bat at the right pitch (writing), and sprinting to first base (editing).
Point to the fence: Like Babe Ruth pointing to center field, you’ve got to be confident that you can deliver a home run. You know your industry, the business trends that matter and what everyone is talking about, and you’ve done the research to understand your audience, so be bold and point to that center field fence. Believe your next swing is going to send that ball 500 feet.
Swing for the fences: Write with conviction and passion – taking your readers on a journey that gives them value and helps them solve a problem. Don’t be afraid to take risks (within the context of your content governance). Sometimes hitting a home run means not being afraid to strike out. When you’re disappointed with the results of a post you were excited about, learn from it. Ask your manager and others how you could have made it better and listen closely to their feedback.
Switch hitting: Show your expertise in what you know, but don’t be afraid to venture into new territory. For example, maybe you’ve written a lot about social media and want to challenge yourself by writing more about blogging strategy. Be willing to explore new writing subjects; just make sure you communicate your new direction with your skipper.
Pinch hitting: Even the best bloggers can hit a wall in terms of inspiration and ideas. Encourage colleagues who haven’t participated on the blog to contribute. Offer to provide support/guidance to help mentor these budding bloggers. Know others in your field who could spice up your blog? Think about helping to find guest bloggers who can share their expertise on your blog.
Load the bases for the cleanup hitter: Let’s say you’re good at the blogging equivalent of getting walks or hitting singles. Think about how you can challenge yourself and others to get some multiple base hits. Maybe you can work with your cleanup hitter on a co-authored piece that can get some traction. If you challenge him enough, maybe you (and others) will be on base when he hits his home run – and it will be a grand slam instead of a solo shot.
Be willing to take one for the team: Whether you’re a reporter, copywriter or blogger, you will eventually have to write about something that doesn’t particularly interest you. Do it anyway. Square around for a bunt or stand there and let that pitch hit you, shake it off and trot on down to first base. And then come up with a better idea for your next post; you’ll undoubtedly get your best batting results when you’re passionate about the subject.
Keep your eye on the ball: Always know the inning and the score. (You’re regularly reading your company’s blog, remember?) And know your team’s record by understanding what types of posts are resonating with readers and writing more of those. Taking your team to the playoffs means writing with true purpose. Familiarize yourself with your company’s content calendar and understand the value of coordinated content. You’ll prove yourself as a thought leader while taking your team straight to October.
Maybe you’re just one player on an award-winning blogging team that’s producing valuable content all day long. Or maybe your company has just started to blog and you need to establish some initial momentum. Your situation really doesn’t matter; the rules of the game don’t change from tee-ball to the bigs. Get your batting practice, wait for the right pitch and swing for the fences.
For more blogging tips, check out our Blog Post Optimization Guide.