Expert: Wendy Piersall, eMoms At Home

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About the Expert

Wendy Piersall is author and owner of eMoms At Home, a site on starting, running and succeeding at home business and blogging and her first entrepreneurial adventure into online marketing. Wendy’s newest blog can be found at Entrepreneur.com, called Inspired Business Growth. Prior to starting her site in 2006, Wendy was Director of Business Development for Socrates.com. Not without a rich myriad of expertise, Wendy has over 6 years of experience working in a home office and is a Certified NLP Practitioner and Coach as well as a Senior Trainer and Coach with Anthony Robbins & Associates.

Speculation abounds about what it takes to create a successful blog. Do you need a huge viral campaign? A hot niche? A top Digger best friend? Quite frankly, many blogs have all of the above – but don’t find lasting success. The reasons for this are as varied as the bloggers themselves. But the one thing I can say that the top blogs have in common is one thing – they haven’t confused the messenger with the message. A blog is just a vehicle. The real heart of a successful blog is in the person or people behind it. These people stand out in the Blogosphere because they would stand out in a crowd. You know what I mean – the kind of person who lights up a room.

So How do You Light up a Blog? Give us the Real You – It sounds like a lesson from a children’s book. You’ll always be a second best someone else, but you can be the number one you. As simple as it sounds, the reality of it isn’t so simple to put into action. And although imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it won’t get you a successful blog. It is important to learn from prominent bloggers you admire, but use their lead to find your own voice. It may take a few weeks or months to develop that voice, but once you’ve got it, you’re automatically ahead of the pack.

Lead by Example – An incongruent leader is one doomed to fail. People are smart and catch onto a phony writer fast. I’m not advocating perfection, nor am I saying that you must be an expert in order to start a blog. Many great blogs are ‘learning’ blogs – the author writes about what they are learning rather than what they already know. But whatever you write about, it’s important to have real-life experience behind your posts. Hollow writing makes for a hollow readership.

Have a Strong Message – A message is not just great posts – it’s also the message that you send in between the lines. People pick up on little details – sometimes not even consciously. Make your blog an “experience” by creating and fostering community and interactivity, keeping your template in line with your topic, and writing posts that stick to your niche. Too much randomness can create confusion and undermine your outcome.

Build a Strong Brand – You wouldn’t show up to a networking meeting in a torn up pair of jeans and plain white t-shirt. Yet your blog is your “outfit” that people see and they will immediately make snap judgments – in about 2 seconds or less. Great content is crucial to a successful blog, but if your site is difficult to navigate, ugly, or doesn’t work properly, people won’t stick around to find it. It also says to your visitors, “I don’t really care about my site” – if you don’t, your readers sure won’t, either.

Be Human – Blog readers don’t want to know that you are super-human – they want be entertained or learn something that you can teach them. Not every blog is personal, but the more you get to know the people behind the words, the more your readers can relate to the content. The more they can relate, the more they want to read.

Mingle with the Masses – A successful blog is not a successful person – it is a successful community of smart people who know how to add to the conversation with great insights, great questions, and great blogs in their own right. Responding to reader comments, links and questions tells blog readers that they are important – which they are.

Put the Readers First – If you study the great copywriters of our time, you’ll find that they use a few words very sparingly, especially “Me, Myself and I”. It’s important to remember the golden rule of marketing, which is to constantly answer the question, “What’s In It For Me?”. Blog readers are a super-savvy audience – let them know you value their time by adding value in your posts.

Make Your Readers Famous – I first heard this from Darren Rowse at the San Francisco Elite Retreat – and he is the master at putting his site visitors front and center. By linking out frequently, giving readers control (by suggesting topics) and through his group writing projects, Darren proves that there is plenty of room to share the spotlight at the top.

Rapport, Rapport, Rapport – In many ways, your blog is a constant sales pitch – you’re either pitching products or pitching ideas. Great sales people don’t sell to leads and prospects – they sell to friends. Building a relationship with your readers takes time, but without it, you’ll never ‘close the deal’.

Write from the Heart – Although last, this is the most important of all. Passionate people are infectious – they are the ones that bounce into a room filled with energy. They are the ones who make a difference just by showing up. People who come from the heart can touch lives through a computer screen – even if they are just talking about blogging. And it’s this kind of person who will be successful no matter what they do – because their message from the heart is more important than the messenger.