A few weeks back, I wrote about how to blog if you don’t like to write — take photos on Instagram or chat on camera using YouTube, for example.
That post prompted several people to ask variations on the question perhaps best posed by Michael: How do I blog without looking like a douche who is bragging?
There’s an oft-used analogy that social media is like a cocktail party. You probably don’t want to walk into a room, talk only about yourself, ignore everyone else, then yell about the sale you’re having as you bolt for the door. I’ve met people who are entertaining raconteurs, who have the ability to talk about themselves at length without seeming like a self-absorbed creep, but you have to be pretty danged interesting and charming.
Who wants to read a blog that’s all about someone bragging or trying to sell you stuff? Ick.
So don’t blog that way either.
Instead, if you’re looking for topics for your business blog, you might:
1. Share what you know.
If you’re an expert in your field, share your knowledge.
Maybe your friends know you’re a lawyer — but they don’t know what you do specifically, so blogging about some specifics might help them make referrals. You’ll give people useful links to share on their Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc. if they think their communities will want your content. And you can engage people in a low-pressure conversation that might lead to sales.
One nice example is Brooklyn-based intellectual property lawyer Jason Rosenblum, who blogs about a variety of IP topics, such as Don’t Delay in Protecting your Products and Brands, which explains why you should promptly trademark your logo, for example.
2. Share what you read.
If you keep up on trade journals, subscribe to interesting email newsletters or regularly read mainstream media, put your reading habit to work for you.
Share a link and a quick summary of the article, explaining why you thought it was helpful or entertaining or whatever.
Much like creating your own content, acting as a guide to others’ content helps establish you as a knowledgeable resource.
Ragan.com points out to lots of content they don’t create, supplementing their own original material and keeping their site fresh.
3. Give people a peek backstage.
If you’re in a business where people don’t routinely get to see the heavy lifting that leads to results, show them the rest of the story.
Whether it’s photos from a restaurant kitchen or video of stocking a retail store for the Saturday before Christmas, your customers might enjoy understanding more about what you do. And if you show some of the labor that leads to your final product, it might have the added benefit of helping them understand why you charge what you do.
This goes double for anyone in a “glamorous” profession. Show a band rehearsal or an artist working on a painting in process or an athlete weight training and fans are likely to love that special access.
Some examples of behind-the-scenes blogging:
4. Ask questions.
Don’t just talk about yourself — use your blog to ask questions. Maybe even offer rewards for the best answers? This is not only an opportunity to start a conversation but to get some free market research.
To go back to the cocktail party analogy, it’s tiresome to talk to someone who only talks about himself, and one way to switch that up is to ask the other person a question.
If you write a post asking for feedback, ideas, etc., say thank you, maybe ask a follow up. This is the blog equivalent of nodding to let the other person you’re actually listening.
To get you thinking:
5. Feature your customers or fans.
If you don’t want to seem like you’re bragging or selling, how about using your blog to showcase the fabulous people you’re fortunate enough to work with?
Maybe these blog posts are a subtle endorsement, or maybe they’re just a straight-up shout out to the people who keep you in business.
What you blog about depends a great deal on why you’re blogging and who you want to reach. If you start by getting clear on who you’re trying to reach and what kinds of content that ideal audience might find useful or entertaining, it might naturally lead you to some good blog topics — and staying focused on what your audience wants will probably also steer you away from bragging and hard selling.
And as a little bonus: What NOT to do on your business blog, from SocialMediaToday.
Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy. She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications. Her WordPress blog, Newvine Growing, is in its fifth year, and prior to that, she used Blogger for three years on an earlier blog called Big Apple Bound.