Zero to Blog: A Learning Workshop

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Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals

Patrick Icasas shares his three tips to blogging success at CAMP’s blogging workshop in Richmond Hill on March 31st.

CAMP held our first workshop on March 31st to an eager crowd at the Richmond Hill Arts School last week –  the first ever learning session of this type, where we focused primarily on a workshop style of education. Members gathered, papers and pens ready to listen to CAMP Founding Member and Professional Writer Patrick Icasas of Write Away discuss the mechanics of creating and sharing a readable blog. First off, what is a blog? We might smile a little at the question, but there are a few of us that don’t really know. First coined in the late 90s as a ‘weblog’, it’s a term that generally means a personal journal published online. Blogs, as they are now known, are ubiquitous and the term is applied to content published from individuals and companies, and doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘personal’. Two characteristics: 1. They are (generally) informal, and 2. They are frequent (that last one isn’t strictly true, as some of us use the term to describe posts we do once a month). Now, why do we care about blogs? Again, us marketers are smirking. Of course blogs are important. They drive our content – one of the most important elements to our content marketing strategy. They build our audience and ultimately sell our product/build our brand. Further:
  • Content Marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing, and generates three times as many leads (Source: Demand Metric)
  • 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site. (Source: Content Plus)
  • 77% of internet users read blogs (Source: Social Media Today)
Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals

Attendees take notes during CAMP’s blogging workshop.

Long Story Short: Get Blogging   Patrick shared three tips to getting started and gaining success from blogging. They are: I. SET IT UP Patrick encourages us all, like good marketers, to start with our strategy and the goal of our blog. What do we want our blog to do? Some potential outcomes may include:
  • Build audience
  • Increase visibility
  • Establish thought leadership
  Setting up your blog can be a fairly easy process, and some of the most common blog platforms are:
  • WordPress – one of the most popular. Flexible, functional, and starts out free. Can be challenging for those who aren’t tech savvy, especially for those nitpicky about their sites.
  • Blogger – Great analytics tools and allows ads, but layouts aren’t as attractive as other platforms
  • Squarespace – Attractive designs and easy site construction, but can be expensive.
  • Tumblr – Image/video-focused blog platform ideal for product-based businesses
  • LinkedIn – A great place to build your own personal brand
  II. WRITE IT DOWN To get started on the actual writing part, think of topics that work for you and your brand. Some tips include – write what you know; break it down and build it up, and draw from your own personal experience (these tend to play well with audiences). Some popular types of blogs include:
  1. Lists – these are currently the most popular and hence, the most widely used blog posts
    1. “7 most psychotic ways to prove your love”
  2. How to – also very popular, these posts give step by step instructions
    1. “How to Fake a Fever”
  3. Bio – “What you need to know about Rebecca Black” (the answer: nothing)
  4. Newsjack – using topics from the news to help promote your point
    1. “7 Management Lessons from the Walking Dead”
Patrick was very firm on the importance of a content calendar, a topic that’s very near and dear to our hearts at CAMP. Our first webinar in March was on the subject, and several of our guest speakers have reminded us of the importance of putting one together. Other tips include to be personable (not necessarily personal – this is an important difference), avoid getting caught up in big words (blogs need to be readable, and 10 dollar words may make us seem smart, but it really does the opposite), and tell a compelling story. And PROOFREAD! (or, as Patrick reminded us: Proofread. Proofread. Proofread. So, this part is important, huh?) III. SEND IT OUT It’s not enough to just post and hope that folks find you, use social media to help you along. Which social media?  We always get this one, as everyone wants to know which is the best social media channel out there. The answer is – use what you’re customers are on. If they’re business  customers, use LinkedIN. Patrick encourages this focus, plus Twitter. Always use Twitter. Also, include the blog posts in your newsletter. Even if you only send a newsletter occasionally, remember to add these posts, as they’ll help build your audience. So, it all seems easy enough, and the challenge is now going back to our desks and doing it.   Nadine Evans - Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals Raised in a small town in Newfoundland, Nadine headed west after graduating and fell in love with the bustle of Toronto. Her true passion is marketing and she’s spent the last 15 years in marketing roles, and is the co-founder and CEO of the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP). When she’s not connecting with other marketers through CAMP, Nadine is at the soccer field, gym, or swimming pool cheering on her two favourite munchkins, trying not to become that mom everyone fears.

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