If you look at most company blogs, they’re incredibly boring. [pullquote]The lack of red tape and need for permission has resulted in one of the most creative times in history.[/pullquote] They’re often nothing more than stock marketing material and cut/paste press releases. I’ve seen company blogs where every single post is about a new function or feature added to their product.
As a result not a single potential customer reads the blog. The blog is just a checkbox that the company doesn’t get any real value from.
Compare that to the average personal blog where you’ll see thriving communities. How does somebody with limited resources and zero budget build a thriving audience, while most corporate blogs despite massive budgets are digital graveyards?
People who run corporate blogs could learn quite a bit from the success of personal blogs if they’re willing to act on the ideas that make personal blogs successful.
5 Characteristics of a Successful Personal Blog
If you land on a successful personal blog, you’ll notice that the writers are not afraid to infuse their personality into everything they do. They’re not afraid to showcase their flaws, be truly transparent and let us get to know them.
When I’ve read somebody’s blog for a long time and I meet them in person, it’s like meeting one of my oldest friends for the very first time. As a result, their readers relate.
2. A Mission/Message/Journey
If you look closely at the wildly successful personal blogs like Pamela Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation, Chris Guillebeau’s Art of Non-Conformity, or Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months, they all have a mission or document a journey of some sort. A journey inspires other people and a result causes them to keep coming back for more.
The best way to document any journey is through storytelling. We’ve been telling stories since the beginning of time. Social media is our version of hieroglyphics. Our digital footprints will tell the stories of our time. Stories capture our imaginations and touch our emotions.
4. No Red Tape/Risks
I believe this, above all things, is what kills every corporate blog. Red tape, endless meetings about other meetings, and sign offs from people who will never actually participate in the content creation process destroy the creativity of corporate blogs. The personal bloggers are quick to act. If they have an idea today, by tomorrow it will be published.
The lack of red tape and need for permission has resulted in one of the most creative times in history. What’s the message here? Make art, not marketing material.
Bloggers with strong personal brands are bold, make declarations and are not afraid to have an opinion. They’re willing to put themselves out there and realize that in order for some people to love them, other people will hate them.
While this might seem a bit risky for a corporation, it might also lead to customers who become fanatics and true fans.
6. A Clear “Why”
If you’re familiar with the work of Simon Sinek, you know that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. People with personal blogs all seem intent on doing one major thing: changing people’s lives. They’re creating tribes, true fans, movements and things that would be missed if they were gone.
If most companies shut off their corporate blog, nobody would probably notice.
Company Blogs that Really “Get It”
There are a rare few company blogs that create content so good that they’re worth subscribing to whether you use their product or not.
37 Signals Signal vs Noise
I don’t use any 37 Signals products. But as a freelancer, content creator, or even corporate employee their blog is still relevant. They understand that everybody is in some sense, involved the publishing business these days. In the case of 37 Signals, publishing is their business.A self-published book eventually led to the New York Times Best Seller Rework. Software companies don’t typically publish books, but maybe they all should.
The buffer blog is one that I believe all technology startup founders could learn from. They cover a wide array of topics including time management, self improvement, marketing and entrepreneurship. When they do talk about their product, they do it through personal stories an examples that we can all relate to.
Even if you don’t use the Wistia product, stop by their blog sometime. If you watch the first 10 seconds of one of their videos, you’ll probably watch the rest of it. They’ve built storytelling into their culture.
I believe that corporate blogs could significantly improve if they modeled the best personal blogs. But this is a change that has to come from the top down. It’s not a tactical change. It’s a cultural change. You have to abandon the red tape, partner with the best writers in the blogosphere, and embrace the fact that you are now in the publishing business.