Shouting into the Void (Blogging)

“What do I say?”

“Why will people care about what I have to say?”

“How do I make people care?”

Coming up with topics to blog about can be tough sometimes, whether you’re new to blogging or not. Hell, I’ve been writing professionally for a decade now, and sometimes I grapple with these questions. My doubts get in the way, and I wonder: will people care about what I have to say?

There are 5 billion websites and at least 300 million active blogs. All these voices out there, just crying out to be heard and read. Competing for eyeballs. For attention and for conversations. It’s no surprise that an intrepid blogger will doubt themselves. With so many other wonderful content out there, already established with an audience, why make an effort? It’s a losing proposition.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s NOT a losing proposition.

Yes, your audience will be small in the beginning. All it takes is one. And then one more. They slowly add up.

It will take time. Months.

Yes, it will be a struggle.

And most important: it will be worthwhile.

For your professional purposes or for business purposes, it’s a great way to market yourself. It’s a way to show people that you know your stuff and establish yourself as an expert (ahem…). It’s a way to open dialogue about your business’ services or product. It’s a way to reach new audiences, to generate leads by using CTAs and SEO keywords. There are thousands of reasons for you, a professional and/or business owner, to write; most of them are financial. Money talks, after all.

So that begs the question: what do you write about? And how do you make people care?

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Let’s answer the latter question first. You can’t make people care. What are you going to do — don a fedora, hold a gun to their heads and say through gritted teeth, “Like my content, damnit!” (alas, I couldn’t find a good stock image).

It will often feel like you’re rambling into the void. But one day you’ll get a notification that someone read your blog entry. And one day they’ll respond with thoughts of their own or questions. And it will grow from there. There are ways to make it happen a little faster, too.

I promise it will grow. You will be heard. Your time and energy will be paid back ten-fold if you keep at it.

So. Let’s circle back to the question: what do you write about?

Broadly: anything you’re passionate about. More specifically: anything you’re passionate about, if it pertains to your profession or your business.

What your professional blog isn’t for: it’s not a place for your personal diary. It’s not an appropriate place for you to vent about your coworkers or employees. It’s definitely not a place for you to write about your business woes. And while I’m thinking of it, avoid anything self-pitying. It’s really tough to write a woe-is-me post and not have it come across as whining.

It is, however, a place for you to discuss topics that are relevant or exciting. There are so many different directions you can go that it might be worthwhile to hire a content strategist (ahem) to help you figure out a good plan for your blog. I’ll posit an example, though:

If you’ve a coffee shop, write about the coffee trends. What type of brewing is hot now (har har, punny)? Is it going to be a good or bad year for coffee beans? Is your new barista trained in an obscure art of coffee-making skill? Write about community events that you’re excited about. Write about this new artist whose photographs you just hung on your walls. If you’re feeling gutsy, you could write about how the latest local tax bill pisses you off because it’ll hurt the local businesses. Poll your readers: pumpkin spice coffee or candy-cane mocha?

These topics: educational, establishes you as an authority, shows you care about your staff and customers, shows that you’re connected to your local community.

Obligatory disclaimer: the above is a very broad example, and of course, advice for any particular individual or business will change depending on a variety of criteria. A good content strategist will help you plan your topics, figure out the direction and tone to take in your entries, and set up an editorial schedule for you. Back to the topic at hand…

In short: Write what you know, show your passion, and engage with people. And with a little time and patience and some marketing, you’ll be writing to your own established audience, rather than shouting into the void.