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Blog Business Summit – Halley Suitt & Stowe Boyd

Topic is writing for blogs, we’ll hear from Halley Suitt and Stowe Boyd. Halley is also editor of Worthwhile magazine. Stowe runs Corante.

Halley started blogging about sexy stuff, wrote about death for 18 months, then back to sexy stuff. HBR asked her to write a fictional horror story about corporate blogging. Most important thing about blog writing is good writing. There are probably some wonderful passionate writers in your organization. You have to find them. Get them, balance rebelliousness with good information.

Blink : The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingNeed good stories. Here are some catchwords to make your blog something people want to read. Use stories, read Gladwell’s Blink book.

Go for truth, watch out for the CEO who wants to write everything. Writing must have passion or nobody will care. Passion for industry, subject, or for whatever is going around the blogosphere. What’s the news, watch the news aggregator. Writing and ethics, know what is going on, take a stand.

Talk about things of this world. Don’t be too abstract, it is boring. (pops out an umbrella). Don’t just talk. Boring blogs have no passionate language.

Go for brevity, write 12 posts not 12 paragraphs.

Go for freshness, post a lot, every day. Scoble is the marathon runner blogger. At least 1 thing per day, better is many things per day, people will come back. If you are prolific, take 2 days off, make you audience worry about you. Play with them, see if they are really reading.

Have a voice. Sound like your blog. Fortune Magazine, Mena Trott is on the cover as part of this year’s “10 trends”. Reads some of Mena’s old posts, crisp clean authentic writing. 2001, its a girly kind of blog. 2004, the product and the company has grown, now she has Mena’s Corner. She will be the friendly, intelligent voice of the company. Read lots of entries and you can get a good sense of who she is.

The things she is doing so well: good at telling stories, she tells the truth, she is passionate, and she loves her company. She uses the things of this world, tangible stuff, she’s not brief, very fresh in writing and perspective, great voice. A great writer. Good example of how a corporate blog should sound.

Q (from Stow): Can this be learned? A: If you want to learn how to paint, go to museums and study the paintings. Study the master writers, the masters of corporate blog-writing. With blogging you are writing all the time, so to help your writing, just blog.

Ok, over to Stow. He’s on a “mission from God”, his True Voice tour, 12-15 conferences over the next year to spread his gospel. From Zuboff and Maxmin, the Support Economy. The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and The Next Episode of Capitalism. Legitimacy based on inclusion is replacing legitimacy based on hierarchical authority.

Find your true voice. How?

Good writing. You need a strong emotional commitment to the stance that you are taking on the subject.

Art & science to blog writing. Science is analyzing length of blog posts from those who you think are good writers, and following what you find. Art is the intuitive, dark part. You need to break your own guidelines, get on your hobby horse, and rant on occasion. The devils have to be there with your angels.

This is a social media. Comment on and reply to discussions with the really smart people out there. Corante is a confederation of thought leaders. Not just because they have great thoughts but because they are involved in smart conversations with 50-80-100 others, to comment on, riff on, and develop an interaction with the inner circle. This is a critical aspect of developing good blog writing. Getting good comments.

Read first, then write. You can’t step in and just write, you have to know what you are stepping in to.

Authenticity and authority. Its nice to be old, occasionally (he’s 52). You get the sense of understanding and people will give it to you.

Draw a line, howl at the moon when someone crosses them. For him, flu vaccine shortage set him off.

Scribble, scribble, scribble. Do it every day. Get up every day and write before breakfast (Hemingway). Just write all the time, solicit feedback and advice.

Halley, sometimes you need to rewrite your life, story of her divorce, restyling who she is, becoming who you have become.

Don’t rewrite your posts, even if they stink. Fix your spelling errors, maybe. Don’t go back and change your opinion. Stow: 15 second rule on dropped food, you can tweak it a bit right after you post, but that’s it.

Finally, by their tags shall ye know them. FlickR, Technorati, Del.icio.us. Empowers users, once again.

Mostly, write things in one sitting.

Q: (Anil: My typos don’t show up until I hit publish). If you publish something you don’t like, write more and scroll the old stuff away. Refine, and people can see your increasing focus.

Q: (Marc Canter): What about aggregators? A: Most people are very individual in the way they use aggregators. The way your blog looks shows if you are using other sources. Bill Kearney points out that people will use things in very different ways. If you publish items 1..10, you think that 1 & 3 are the good ones, and 6, 7, and 8 get people to your site, that’s worth knowing.

Discussion about changing your mind, and how to do it, link back, say why, etc.

Stow: Forgot to talk about having a sense of humor, it is important. Halley says she gets a 9 AM Monday morning traffic spike, and she writes her silly, sexy, crazy stuff aimed at that time. Fun, fast, dirty.

Permalinks and deleting posts, does it leave a scar behind.

Halley: Know when not to write, because it all stays there forever!