Not many people know this, but I’ve spent the last Thursday of the past three months attending a new Digital Media Meetup group in Glasgow*. The format has been more or less the same each time: two speakers and a Q&A with plenty time to chat to people before and afterwards. The group always meets in the pub so the vibe is pretty informal and, joyfully, ensures easy access to pints. If, like me, most of your professional networking takes place behind the screen it’s refreshing to meet like-minded people from Glasgow’s digital community in the ‘real world’.
All the MeetUps have been excellent but the last one: Writing for the Web: Blogging the Journey, has finally motivated me to start writing about them online. One of the things I love about my job is that there’s always something new to learn. I usually go to digital marketing events thinking I’ll already know it all, but, happily, I’m always wrong. So, I thought I would summarise and share a few nuggets of blog wisdom from each of the two speakers. Here goes:
1) Naomi Lewis - professional blogger and digital marketing expert
Originally from Manchester, Glasgow is lucky to have adopted the delightful Naomi Lewis who blogs both professionally as a marketing head and personally as a relationship and dating expert. Think Seth Godin meets Carrie Bradshaw.
Naomi chatted through her top tips to achieve blogging success. Although they may seem obvious to seasoned online copywriters, I know how easy it is to lose focus and forget the basics. From now on, this is my blogging mantra and it should be yours too:
Define the purpose
Cheesy quote alert: “without the WHY the WHAT won’t work.” Basically, know exactly what you’re trying to achieve. For example, do you want to entertain or inform?
Have a passion
Write about what you love whether it’s on behalf your company or yourself.
Choose a theme, a writing style, a tone of voice and stick to them.
Make content unique
The first rule of content marketing. Original content carries more kudos and attracts more engagement.
Choose a short, snappy title
Nail a great title to grab attention. Be conversational and remember that lists and numbers are always a winner online.
Speak your audience’s language
Be human. People go online to connect with other people so be authentic and use humour.
Research quotes and facts
People love facts. Statistics and numbers also help you to break up content naturally in a blog-friendly way.
Use keywords, content tags and backlinking. Go to LinkedIn to seek the latest advice from search marketing experts.
Boring but essential, formatting is everything in online copywriting. Do everything you can to break up the text with bold text, bullets and subheadings.
Stick to the word count
Blog posts should be between 250 and 1500 words long. Any shorter and users decide it’s probably not worth reading - any longer and they switch off.
Promote and share
Be loud and proud about your blog posts. Promote your content shamelessly on social media. Use LinkedIn Pulse and piggyback on trending hashtags such as #mondayblogs.
2) Charlotte Dougall - fashion and lifestyle blogger
As somebody who remembers the internet dark ages when blogs were called weblogs, it’s fascinating to see how far blogging has come. With famous bloggers and vloggers like Zoella now in Debrett's list of the 500 most influential people in Britain, people can create highly lucrative personal brands from their own bedrooms these days. For that reason, I was looking forward to hearing Glasgow-based blogger, Charlotte Dougall, talk about her hugely successful lifestyle blog, Colours and Carousels.
Charlotte explained how her blog has grown up with her since she started writing at the age of 15 five years ago. At first she wrote about typical teenage girl issues until she became interested in the Scottish referendum. The changing political scene in Scotland motivated her to learn and form opinions about the issues and give teenagers a rare voice in the debate. Now firmly established on the UK blogging scene, she writes about beauty, fashion, food and student life as well as her personal experiences, hopes, fears and ambitions.
Describing her blog as a ‘massive part of her life’ and her ‘passion’, it was incredible to hear how much expertise Charlotte has gained through blogging. It has enabled her to single-handedly organise, promote and host a #ScotBlogMeet charity event for The Scottish Association for Mental Health. Blogging has also helped her acquire some serious skills in networking, brand promotion, public speaking and digital marketing as well as boosting her overall confidence and motivation. Pretty amazing for somebody who has only just turned 20.
Well, I’ve written over 900 words so the blog-word-count-o-meter is telling me to wrap this up. Hopefully, I’ve inspired some more of Glasgow's digerati to come along to the next Digital Media MeetUp. If so, I’ll probably see you there!
*It almost goes without saying that I found out about the Meetup through social media. Kudos to organiser and co-founder, Mark Muir for seeking me out on Twitter and asking me to go along. Being a social media nerd, I still get a small thrill when opportunities open up that would never have been possible in the pre-digital world.