Blogging can be dangerous to your (business) health!
Why? Because you don't have an editor.
My husband, David, grew up professionally in the newspaper business. He was a managing editor and publisher for one of New England's largest and most frequently honored publishing companies. Three of his bosses were Pulitzer Prize winners.
He relates that editorial writing was not one of his favorite responsibilities. The pressure of writing a daily or weekly column can wear on a person....not unlike the pressure of writing frequently for your business blog. (I suppose it's fair to note that with circulation numbers in the mid six figures, and three Pulitzer Prize winners critiquing his work, David's pressure might have been a bit more intense!)
According to David, the biggest risk of editorial writing is that your words will "go public" without the benefit of an editor. "Even if you have an editor," he says, "if you are the publisher, no one has the nerve to criticize you. And, without an editor, it is entirely possible to publish a column about your hemorrhoid surgery." David chuckles when he tells this story which, fortunately is not something he did, but rather something he read in a competitor's newspaper. He always adds his commentary, "And NOBODY wants to read that!"
When you are blogging for your estate planning or elder law firm, remember, there are some things that NOBODY WANTS TO READ ... and other things that just don't fit into the context of a business discussion. Here is my short-list of the top five topics you should avoid in your business blog (this list also applies to in-person networking events where you hope to initiate new business relationships).
- How Terrible Business is Right Now (unless you are talking about business in general, and able to offer up some great ideas / solutions). Your business blog is not the place to complain about your empty appointment book!
- Don't Discuss Clients (or Cases) By Name (without permission). Some attorneys have gotten into real trouble complaining about judges by name, or in an identifiable manner. Story telling can be a great marketing tool, but use it carefully.
- Don't Treat Your Blog Like a Press Center. Your blog is not the place to post press releases, or "puff" pieces. Think of your business blog as a professional conversation you might have at a very important, exclusive social mixer ... and you don't want to be the guy in the loud plaid jacket trying to sell vinyl siding to everyone he meets.
- Don't Make the Reader Uncomfortable With Too Much Personal Information. This relates to the hemorrhoid surgery story ... and other personal details that the business world just does not want to know. Your toddler's first words could be inspiration for a blog post, but not her first poo-poo on the potty!
- Don't Talk Politics or Religion. Okay, your mother told you this, right? If not, I'm telling you now. Your business blog is not a soap box. Please do not preach from it, predict the impending Apocalypse, or promote your liberal, conservative, or libertarian political views. The Tea Party has their own PR department, they do not need your business blog. Remember that about half of the population is Democrat and the other half Republican, with minority shares of "other" thrown in. Regardless what stand you take, you are going to alienate at least half of your audience. And this does NOT promote your business!
Remember, it is not true that any publicity is good publicity. The same applies to blogging. Just because you are writing something in your business blog on a regular basis, this does NOT mean you are building your practice. If you're not careful, you could just be embarrassing yourself.