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I’m tremendously excited to introduce my FIRST EVER guest blogger, Kathleen Lisson. I wrote somewhat tongue in cheek the other day how it had been nine days since I posted. And if you blog, you know how weak that is (my excuse: I’m starting a company…been kinda busy). Anyways, Kathleen offered me a few tips on how to keep up on my content. Her advice was so good, I suggested a guest post and she obliged. Note to Self: Try to keep up this time…

by Kathleen Lisson, CSW

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Out of the millions and millions of blogs on the Internet, it is always a treat to find a Seth Godin or Brian Clark, a blogger that makes you think about life and your career in a new and remarkable way. Unfortunately, for every Copyblogger.com, there are a million blogs started with the best of intentions by bloggers who just didn’t have enough water in their camelbacks to finish the hike.

How can you make sure your blog will still be inspiring your readers in five years? For me, the mark of a quality blog is regularly updated content that provides consistent value to your readers. Here are my five tips for publishing a quality blog.

1. Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions – Part One

What is your blog’s message? Nail down, in one or two sentences, your blog’s purpose and audience. I write a blog on wine and food pairing. My blog’s purpose is to offer information on wine and food pairing to an audience of wine drinkers that are interested in creating delicious wine and food pairings at restaurants and in their own kitchens.

Knowing your audience is as essential to blogging as it is to public speaking. To solidify your mental picture of your blog readers and their interests and needs, brainstorm 25 blog posts. Write down the post’s title, what information you will share, and what the reader will learn.

2. Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions – Part Two

Why are you writing a blog? I am a Certified Specialist of Wine. My blog reinforces my expert status to potential clients (students) and is a tool for communicating with and educating current students. Having a clear reason for writing a blog will help you stay motivated when the initial excitement of blogging wears off. What does your blog do for you or your career?

3. Set up Streams of ‘Bloggable’ Information

Once you decide on a topic, collect information resources. Use these resources to brainstorm ideas for blog posts. Here are some options:

Read magazines and other publications that report on your blog’s subject matter. I subscribe to Wine Spectator. Other resources include Food and Wine magazine, Saveur magazine, and Epicurious.

Read website forums. Gary Vaynerchuk has built a top notch community of wine lovers at Wine Library TV. If you are lucky enough to have a forum dedicated to your blog’s topic, fellow forum members are a wonderful source of inspiration and a sounding board for future blog posts.

Guy Kawasaki has put up a great website, Alltop, which aggregates dozens of blog feeds by topic. Each Alltop site displays the headlines of the latest stories from dozens of sites and blogs. A quick scan of alltop.com tells me what all my fellow wine bloggers are talking about.

4. Write Those 25 Blog Posts

I update my blog twice a week, every week. I don’t update daily because I use Feedburner to give my readers the option of receiving my blog “newsletter-style” via email, but I produce the same amount of content as a ‘daily’ blog.

I can offer my readers a regularly updated blog because I have at least ten articles in reserve at all times. I took the time to flesh out my initial 25 blog post topics over Christmas vacation last year, and supplement those posts with newer posts that I write based on my ‘bloggable’ information streams. A trick that I heave learned as a teacher is to end each lesson with questions for the students designed to get them to work with the information I have presented. I bring this practice into my blog writing. For instance, if I am writing a blog post reviewing 25 matches for red wine and appetizers, I would ask “What match will you try first?” “What match is the most unusual to you?” “What red wine and appetizer pairing would you add to the list?” or “Will you add one of these matches to the appetizer list at your next party?”

When my ‘reserve’ of blog posts runs low, I schedule an hour to brainstorm, search the Internet and write new blog posts.

5. Leverage Your Friends

Make friends with fellow bloggers in your issue area and invite them to write guest posts on your blog. This post is a result of a Twitter conversation between Ryan and I. Bloggers are always happy to help, as the additional exposure brings more traffic to their blogs.

Get inspired by a fellow blogger’s idea and write a post providing your insights with a link to their blog post. For instance, I blogged about fellow wine blogger Erika Strum’s food and wine pairing for Roasted Lamb with Charmoula earlier this year.

The mark of a quality blog is a steady stream of content that provides consistent value to your readers. Following these tips will get you on your way to writing a regularly updated blog that provides insight and inspiration for your customers.

  • What is your blog’s purpose and audience?
  • How easy was it to think of your 25 sample posts?
  • How many magazines do you read that relate to your blog’s content?
  • Is your blog listed on Alltop.com? Would you like to see it listed on Alltop.com?
  • Which friend / fellow blogger will you ask to write a guest post?

Kathleen Lisson is a Certified Specialist of Wine and a wine instructor in Albany, NY. She peak bags in the Adirondacks in her spare time. Her wine and food pairing blog is at http://kathleenlisson.blogspot.com

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