We recently passed the first anniversary of the Magellan blog, a short time by any measure. Still, we’ve learned a few things along the road this year:
Shorter is better. There are exceptions, but long posts are typically not the ones that work best in this medium. Our posts with the greatest traffic include “Preserving business models“, “Curation nation” and “BEA and everything after”, the longest checking in at 600 words.
Links matter. Linking out has been an organizing principle since we started. It reflects the work of others. Linking also helps us write shorter, presume a level of subject knowledge and offer an option for readers to quickly gain greater depth.
Consistency matters. Blogs need a force of habit (and RSS) to overcome inertia. We started slowly, built through mid-year and fell off at times during the summer and fall. In late November, we started posting most weekdays, something that continues. Over that latest period, traffic has more than doubled, driven largely by consistent volume most days.
Themes emerge. We started the blog with three channels (magazines, books and associations) that reflect our client base. Although our goal was to write about things relevant to these audiences, a number of topics kept coming up. These themes give us an opportunity to offer greater depth by building on prior posts and updating content as new information becomes available.
Engagement helps. Although the blog does not receive a large number of comments (something we’d like to change in 2010), we’ve found that our ideas have been consistently strengthened by outside perspectives. We’ve also found that acknowledging the valid perspective of others has helped build both conversation and readership.
Associations (and others) considering a blog strategy need to recognize the time, energy and though required to implement one successfully. I don’t think we’re demonstrably successful just yet, but these thoughts are at least helpful, hopeful pointers.