I have a confession to make. I’m jealous of parenting bloggers. There, I said it. I’ve been thinking this for years but I’ve never actually said it. You, my friends, are hearing my confession for the first time.
I’m so envious of the way some parenting bloggers, including many friends of mine, so beautifully document their lives and those of their children. It takes a rare person to open up their lives at the level that the best parenting bloggers do – when they bare it all (or almost all) and tell amazing stories through their words and pictures. These bloggers are chronicling their kids’ lives and they’ll have those stories forever; here I am, just another marketing blogger. (P.S. Click the links in this paragraph for just a few of my favorite parenting bloggers.)
What makes the best parenting bloggers so great at what they do? Great lifestyle and parenting bloggers don’t just keep diaries, they really engage readers and provide a compelling experience, day in and day out, sometimes across many years.
I think there are a few lessons the average marketing blogger like me, and perhaps any business or corporate blogger, can take from these talented writers.
1. It all starts with storytelling
My favorite bloggers are all wonderful storytellers, first and foremost. The bloggers I’ve been following and reading for years, and the ones I’m most excited to meet in person, are not those with the largest readership or the best brand relationships. I really hang on the words of the bloggers who tell unique and thorough stories through their posts. Their stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, even if they’re only 400 words or a mainly photographic recounting of their kids’ first day of school.
So it goes almost without saying that the best stories are almost always accompanied by (and told through) great photos. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the best bloggers are also the best photographers, but they manage to capture the essence of the subject they’re writing about in their images, and their effective use of images enhances their stories.
Corporate bloggers should consider storytelling the foundation of their efforts, too. It’s not enough to broadcast product information or announce the latest and greatest from HQ; great brand blogging should also be made up of stories, about people, events, ideas and maybe, only maybe, products.
2. Authenticity is key
The bloggers I read day in and day out are those who I know to be honest and true in their words. I want to know that they struggle with parenting just like I do, and I want to hear how they face their fears as well as how they celebrate their successes. And not all parenting bloggers write exclusively about their kids or their families; some also include stories from work, from other aspects of their lives, and if I’m attached to that blogger I’m usually happy to read about other subjects from them too.
I feel the same way about the corporate bloggers I read as much as I do about the parenting bloggers. I want to hear the “warts-and-all” side of the brand story, at least to the extent that the brand is willing and able to tell it. I feel like it’s important to know how messy the office is, to understand the planning process for their corporate event, and to meet the people who make the secret sauce in the back of the factory.
And let’s face it: it’s easier to write about everything in an honest way than to try and recolor some of it and then remember what you’ve written about. That goes for corporate bloggers as well as lifestyle bloggers.
3. They’re compelling writers
Great bloggers need not be perfect writers. Contrary to how much the Elements of Style were drilled in to most of us, we’ve learned that we do not need to have perfect grammar and syntax to get our point across. However, the best bloggers are indeed compelling writers: they understand how to turn a phrase, use punctuation to improve their words, and structure prose for greatest impact.
Your corporate or business blogging writing should be at least as good, if not better, than your favorite lifestyle or parenting bloggers. After all, you’re representing a company, and you do need to put your best foot forward for them. If you aren’t the best writer but you are still an authentic and compelling storyteller, hire someone to help you polish your writing so that you don’t stumble on this important aspect of blogging.
Who are some of your favorite non-business bloggers? Why are they your favorites, and do you take any lessons from them into your corporate or business blogging efforts? I’d love to see some links and ideas in the comments.
Image courtesy of Digital Family Summit.