Here’s the really great thing about blogs: they are entirely your own. You can say what you want, when you want, in whatever writing style you choose. You don’t have deadlines and you’re not answering to an editor who ultimately has the final say over what you write.
There has never been anything more democratic that writing a blog.
But blogs are a lot of work. And if you want any real traffic, you have to be strategic in managing your site. This is true in any industry, but particularly so in an industry that is so broadly defined as records management.
If you would like to create a blog, I recommend keeping three things in mind:
- Point of View
Critical to the success of your blog will be an understood focus on a well-defined segment of the industry. Having a blog about ‘records management’ is not likely to garner much traffic. There’s simply too much already written under the records management umbrella to make your blog stand out from any others.
Instead, leverage the ‘Long Tail of the Internet’ by narrowing your topic down as much as possible based on your specific field of expertise or interest. For eight years, I wrote a blog focused on records management in SharePoint. (Ingeniously entitled, SharePointRecordsManagement.com.) The site was extremely successful, with thousands of hits a week. This was because I didn’t try to solve the problems of all records managers. But if you were a records manager trying to solve an information lifecycle management issue in SharePoint, chances are you would know about my blog.
Now I am doing the same thing with this blog. Everyone knows how records used to be managed, but if someone is interested in learning what the latest (or future) records management solutions look like, my hope is they will come here.
You can do this, too. Are you a records manager in a specialized vertical like pharmaceuticals? Then focus your blog on records management in the pharmaceutics industry. (This can be done for horizontal industries, like Human Resources or Accounting, too.)
Narrowly focus your blog topic and you will attract a loyal and dedicated group of followers who will repeatedly return to your site because they believe you understand their unique problems and you are more likely than anyone to have the answers they’re looking for.
Google searches are what brings readers to a blog, but trust is what makes them come back.
Don’t ever lose your reader’s trust. Be honest in everything you write. Never personally attack other bloggers or industry influencers.
Don’t be afraid to say ‘I don’t know,’ if someone asks a question outside of your field of expertise. ‘I don’t know’ is a much better answer than making up an uninformed one.
Keep your blog as close to vendor neutral as possible. That goes for competitors and your own employer. I’ve worked for some big companies during the time that I’ve had active blogs, but you’d have a difficult time knowing who they are by anything I’ve ever written. Stay neutral and keep your blog focused on elevating records management for everyone – you, your employer, your competitors and your customers.
Finally, have the courage to dispute commonly held records management beliefs. Your readers may disagree, sometimes violently. But they will also respect you for your integrity and with that comes more trust.
Point of View
Blogs are not the place to be timid. Your readers need to understand that they can come to your blog knowing that you have a clear point of view – and you have enough confidence to defend it.
Take a side on an issue, even if it means offending other records management influencers.
For example, do you believe records managers have been replaced by ‘information governance professionals?’ Great, then say so and explain why. Or do you believe ‘information governance’ is just another term for the work that professional records managers have always done? That’s fine, too. Either point of view is perfectly valid and will drive traffic to your blog from people who both agree with you and those who disagree.
What would not drive traffic would be to suggest that both mutually exclusive points of view are accurate. Nobody is interested in reading the opinions of someone who hasn’t really made up their own mind.
Some Additional Thoughts on Records Management Blogs
- I use WordPress for my blogs. There are other sites that will host your blog and I’m sure they are very good, but I’ve never had a problem with WordPress. Spend a few bucks on a good blog theme with a lot of good add-ins available.
- License a real domain name and use it as an alias instead of the standard ‘blah.wordpress.com’ that comes free with the site. It’s not hard to do and looks much more professional.
- Call your blog something that describes its content and is easy to remember. ‘DonsBlog.com’ might have been good for my ego, but it’s just not nearly as effective as ‘NextGenRM.com.’
- Respect your readers and their comments. Blogs are one place where it is really true that there are no stupid questions. And don’t respond to personal attacks with another personal attack. That is a pointless strategy and diminishing to your brand.
- Use meaningful tags and categories for your posts (but I shouldn’t have to tell records managers this).
- Connect your blog to other social media channels. At a minimum, you should include a scroll of your Twitter account, which isn’t hard to do.
That’s it for blogs. As usual, your comments are appreciated. (And I’m more than happy to help anyone weed through some of the technical difficulties of starting a blog. It can be a little confusing sometimes. Just leave a comment and I’ll connect with you offline.)
Next up is Part 3, my thoughts on Twitter.