Ready, Set, Blog
The new SMPS St. Louis website includes an exciting new feature ‐ a blog ‐ a fresh, innovative way to share news, events, expert content and inspirational stories. In order to make this a useful feature of the site, we need to generate content to be added on a consistent basis. We are looking to our SMPS members to help us kick‐start our blog by providing posts and suggestions for topics that we can write about.
As somebody who is new to the blogging world and didn’t have any clue what to do a year ago, I know that starting can be overwhelming. It’s so easy to let the space between where you are, and where you want to be stop you from taking any steps at all. But what I found was that once I dug in and got a feel for the basics and just started writing, it was much easier and WAY more fun than I expected.
In the interest of motivating some of our wonderfully talented members to start blogging, I thought I would provide some information about blogs, how to get started and basics that you should know to get writing.
What is a Blog?
As marketing professionals, most of us are familiar with blogs and some of us are even forced thrilled to draft the content for our company blog. But, just in case some of you are unfamiliar with blogging or aren’t 100% sure what it means, according to dictionary.com, a blog (short for web log) is a ”website containing a writer’s or group of writers’ own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websites.” The information is listed in reverse chronological order.
If that doesn’t clear it up, hop online and search under “blog.” Then, prepare to spend the next 3 days weeding through the millions and millions of blogs on millions and millions of topics. Be prepared to become addicted to no less than 100 of them. It’s amazing what you can find!
What should I write about?
Blogs should be written with the interest of reaching the audience for which it’s intended. What are the members of SMPS are looking for? What do they need and why they would keep coming back? As a member, what do you want to see? Create content that you would want to click on, read and share.
What are the rules of blogging?
When you first start blogging it can seem like the list of must-dos and need-to-learns is pretty endless. To get you started, here are some recommendations to follow so your blog gets the attention it deserves:
- Give it a snappy, interesting title. The title is what the reader sees first, so it has to motivate them to want to read. Also, subheads help people find the main points in the blog. Keep the headline to 60 characters or less so it can be picked up by search engines.
- KISS. A blog is one thought, one question, or one idea. Be direct and as succinct as possible. Paragraphs should be much shorter online than on paper; a good guideline is two to six sentences per paragraph. Keep it simple, SMPS!
- Break it up. Make your blog easy to read by breaking up text into manageable chunks with photos, sub-headers, bullet points, and lists as eye
- Cite your sources. Always reference material from other sources and if taken from an online webpage, provide a link to to the photo, page or item.
- A picture is worth a thousand words. Always include photos in your posts. They help break up text and add interest. Be sure the image is relevant to your post. If you need a photo, look here to find free stock images.
- Be authentic and engaging. Never talk to your audience, talk with your audience. Blogs are meant to be conversation starters. People don’t want to read something that seems mundane and mechanical. Be personal, share your incredible personality! That’s what makes blogging so exciting.
- It’s all about you. Provide an “about me” paragraph at the end with contact information should somebody what additional information about the blog/subject.
- The long and short of it. There are varying opinions as to how short/long a blog post should be. You want to have enough words to get your points across without being too wordy. The recommended length is somewhere between 300‐600 words – but if the topic and content warrants more, feel free to keep writing. Quality is more important than length.
There are hundreds (probably thousands) of good resources online to learn about the basics of blogging and several sites that offer outlines and examples to help get started. Some of my favorites include: ProBlogger, Dummies.com, and Socialtriggers.com
What if I don’t like to write?
So you like the idea of reading a blog but you have no interest in actually writing? If you have ideas for topics that you would like to read about, share them with the Communications Committee and we will get them written or seek out a guest blogger from another chapter to weigh in. Or, if you find some content on another website or blog, forward it on and we can share it on our site.
So there you have it, everything you need to know to get started on your first blog. Your blog is only limited by your passions — what do you have to say?
About the Author
Rebecca Ryan is a mom, wife and marketer. She has worked in the A/E industry for over 15 years and currently serves as the Director of Marketing & Corporate Communications for Ross & Baruzzini, a St. Louis based consulting engineering firm. She has been a member of SMPS since 2004, serving on the Sponsorship and Communications committees. In her spare time she enjoys writing, shopping and wine‐tasting while trying to successfully balance marketing and mommy hood.