Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's All About Focus: Finding a Theme For Your Blog

I have been diligently writing and editing the text for a social media workbook that Lightbox SF will have available in about a week. While getting feedback from one of my gracious readers we were discussing my advice to choose a theme or focus for your message. He was a little confused why I was talking about sharing industry news and not about showing the process of their work.

I wanted to share this with you because in discussing it further I wan not only able to explain my point, but convinced him this simple tip was great for beginners daunted by writing a blog because it actually made deciding what to write easier and makes you sound more professional.

Focus Schmocus

Here’s what I mean when I say pick a focus. First I coach my clients to tell their story, share what makes them unique within their market. That is the heart of all successful marketing. Then I tell them to look beyond their art for another passion they have that relates, something they want to share with their readers, an added value of sorts.

Just to make that clear I want you to talk about your work, why you create, the materials you use, possibly even show photos or video of a piece at different stages of progress. But I also want you to have another topic that you write, post and tweet about, something that you are passionate or curious about, something that is easy for you to talk about.

For example one client is a photographer, but also going to school to be a lawyer. When she blogs and posts on Twitter and Facebook she shares her images, how she captured them, what worked and didn’t work, but she also shares tips on navigating the legal side of being an artist. She posts links to articles and websites where solid information can be found. This has allowed her to grow a following that comes to her for both her striking images and her expert knowledge on art law.

I'm Still Not Convinced

And why do I think this is so important? First because it gives your audience something to count on, they know what to expect from you and they know where to turn when they need or want specific information. Second because it makes deciding what to write a bit easier. Having a focus gives you direction and narrows the possibilities. If you’ve chosen a theme that is a great interest to you, you’ll most likely have plenty of material to choose from without doing much research or you’ll already be doing the research because you can’t help yourself.

I’ll use myself as an example. On the blog for Lightbox SF I write the more practical business advice articles while Shelly writes the more inspirational and motivational pieces. As many of you can understand my days often get away from me and before I know it I’m due to post another article and I still haven’t been struck by what to write. All I need to do is think about what have I been focusing on all week with our business. What did I learn or what skill did I make use of? I always come up with something because my day-to-day work is focused on growing the business and using best practices. I’m constantly reading about how others are succeeding at small businesses that I have tons of inspiration. I’m not pulling my topics out of thin air, instead I look to what I’ve been doing that week.

How Would That Look For Someone Like Me?

Let’s say you’re a knitter making fabulous vintage inspired accessories. I would coach you to first write about how you come up with your patterns, what yarn you use, how you came to knitting, but then I would suggest that you also write about your passion for vintage. This might take the form of sharing your favorite finds from flea market expeditions or how to incorporate more vintage items into your wardrobe. The two go hand-in-hand, but offer two distinct focuses for your writing. Then if you were ever stuck with what to write you could either look to a new project you were working on or that set of cordial glasses you purchased last weekend or that mint-condition 1940s dress you’re coveting on Ebay.

The structure not only makes it easier to come up with ideas, but it also gives you room to play. You might even find yourself excited about brainstorming new blog posts and how you can support them with your Twitter and Facebook updates.

Next week I’ll carry this theme idea over to crafting an integrated message for all your social media outlets.

Do you have a theme or focus that makes you stand out? I'd love to hear about it.

I encourage comments directly to this post, but also feel free to email me directly with questions, reactions, struggles, etc.

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!

1 comment:

My Dear Darling said...

I think I tend to go all over the place with my blog when it's not about my business. :P I love your advice and will be looking into narrowing my focus down.

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