The fastest way to create a successful CEO blog is to draw inspiration from some of the best existing examples. We’ve found that instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, one of the best ways to get started as a CEO blogger is to adapt the strategies that have worked for others.
We have analysed the most successful executive blogs and identified the attributes that can be easily adopted and adapted. Obviously, not all of these tactics will be applicable to every situation, but they can provide a template for a traffic-generating CEO blog.
Eight effective CEO blogs that you can learn from:
1. GatesNotes – Bill Gates
The Microsoft founder does a great job of combining his personal interests and publicising causes that he believes in. Gates uses the blog to promote the work of his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and to publicise causes he is passionate about, such as energy technology.
Bill Gates effectively uses some basic images to explain the purpose of his blog and his activities.
The two best things about Gates Notes are the manner in which Bill goes out of his way to provide useful information, and how he recognises the power of entertainment. Gates provides useful knowledge in the form of a reading list of books he’s enjoyed and his thoughts on some titles. The reading list gives people a reason to regularly visit the site.
Gates offers some entertaining content, such as a piece on The Deadliest Animal in the World. The animal is actually a mosquito, which his foundation is trying to eradicate. This story provokes thought without lecturing or boring readers.
The most effective page at Gates’ blog might be this one, which shows readers he is more than just the former CEO of Microsoft, he’s a human being with a past.
Something else to observe is how Gates also effectively adapts some classic newspaper promotion strategies, such as using sensational headlines to make his blog more thought provoking.
Those that want to see how a blog can be used to effectively promote a cause and to combine entertainment and education need to take a look at Gates Notes.
2. The Naked CEO – Alex Malley
Malley proves that it is possible for a busy CEO to write an effective blog. The chief executive of CPA Australia, one of the world’s largest accounting organisations, and the host of The Conversation with Alex Malley on Nine Network Australia, is the driving force behind this blog targeted at students entering the employment market for the first time.
Like Gates, Malley understands the power of entertainment, but he also knows that blogs must provide useful information to attract repeat traffic.
Malley effectively achieves this goal and entertains his audience with slide shows on topics such as How to Deal with the Office Grump. The slides themselves provide an attention-grabbing visual effect for the blog.
Alex Malley effectively uses humor and stunning visuals to make his blog more entertaining.
One of the best features of the Naked CEO blog is the Ask Alex a Question page. Instead of merely commenting, visitors can ask Alex a question, and he will answer some of them on video. This feature helps Malley establish a rapport with his readers and builds up his reputation as an industry expert and a problem solver.
Another advantage to this feature is that it allows Alex to interact with readers without spending all his time responding to comments.
3. Naomi Simson
Red Balloon founding director Naomi Simson leverages her success on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank with this colourful blog. We were impressed by the effective manner in which Simson uses it to promote her activities, including public speaking, writing books, and charitable causes. She communicates effectively by coming across as a real person, a mother, and an executive rather than just a talking head.
By using Pinterest posts like this, Simson establishes herself as an expert in her subject.
Simson actively leverages her blog by posting photographs of herself on Instagram and quotes from famous people on Pinterest. This low-cost strategy attracts followers with minimal effort.
Pinterest is one of the more powerful social media tools because it encourages others to share images you upload. The Pinterest posts drive traffic and build credibility by establishing Naomi Simson as a source of knowledge.
4. Caterina.net – Caterina Fake
Flickr cofounder Caterina Fake proves that you can create an intelligent and thought-provoking CEO blog without fancy graphics or a lot of visual content. Her site is simple and clean, yet it conveys a lot of really good information.
What we liked best about Fake’s blog is the simple white background that makes it very easy to read. There’s nothing to distract the reader; instead, the focus is on the ideas that she is trying to convey. A really nice touch is the portrait that makes Caterina look like a real person. Fake proves that simple blogs can be just as effective as the complex ones.
5. Blog Maverick (The Mark Cuban Weblog) – Billionaire Mark Cuban is a popular and controversial figure in the United States.
Mark Cuban uses his blog to counter his popular image as an aggressive and thoughtless businessman.
Cuban makes Blog Maverick a go-to destination by simply sharing his opinions on issues in the news. He offers thoughts on legal and political matters and headlines. A fascinating example is this post on social media and American elections. By discussing such matters, Cuban reaches a much larger audience and relates his philosophy to the masses.
Another reason why this blog works so well is that Cuban effectively conveys his passions. It also shows a different image of Cuban, who comes across as somewhat abrasive on television. The posts show readers that Cuban is a highly intelligent and well-read man who is something of an intellectual. Blog Maverick demonstrates how a good weblog can be used to change a CEO’s image.
One interesting aspect of Blog Maverick is the way in which Cuban uses an app called Cyber Dust as an alternative to a traditional comments section.
Marketing guru and brand ambassador Guy Kawasaki does not post that often, but when he does, it is worth reading. Nobody seems to do a better job of conveying a basic business philosophy—that of marketing as evangelism—than Kawasaki does.
Guy Kawasaki makes his blog a go to destination by limiting his number of posts.
Kawasaki’s old blog, the Art of Evangelism, simply posted essays, yet they were highly effective. This post conveys a very complex concept, that of product evangelism, and provides a blueprint for utilising the method in day-to-day business.
We liked this mix of actionable information with complex concepts. Kawasaki succeeds in showing how to share experience and business philosophy as useful information. In his current blog, Guy Kawasaki does much the same; in this post on start-ups is another example of a useful lesson presented in an entertaining manner.
Kawasaki realizes that one of the most important roles of a blog is to share wisdom.
Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and executive chairman of LinkedIn, successfully demonstrates how to combine social media and a CEO blog. The blog simply redirects visitors to Hoffman’s posts on LinkedIn.
We liked the way in which Hoffman’s posts followed a theme: marketing. We were also impressed by Hoffman’s writing style in which he succeeds in communicating complicated business concepts to a mass audience. One way in which Reid does this is by using familiar pop culture icons such as Star Wars characters as examples.
Hoffman leverages the power of LinkedIn by using his blog to promote his presence on social media.
Another effective trick Hoffman uses is to leverage the power of images such as stills from movies to spice up his blog. By posting interesting images, Hoffman makes his site slicker and more professional looking at a low cost.
8. OnStartups.com – Dharmesh Shah
One of the biggest flaws that we see in CEO blogs is lack of focus. This simple blog created by Dharmesh Shah, the founder and chief technology officer of HubSpot, works because it maintains a laser-like focus on marketing for growing startups.
Visuals from slideshows and PowerPoint presentations are a cheap and low effort means of adding stunning visuals to your blog.
Shah covers a wide variety of topics, but they are all related to entrepreneurship. The blog works because his passion for marketing and genuine expertise on the subject shines through.
We also liked the large amount of information that Shah shares with his audience. He gives them a reason to come back because they actually learn something from his content.
These blogs demonstrate that one of the best ways to learn how to blog is to read and analyse the blogs of other CEOs. In a round-a-bout way, CEOs that want to become effective and popular bloggers must become devoted blog readers. Just remember to select your role models carefully; some CEOs blog in ineffective ways. But if you use this list as a springboard to launch from, you’ll easily find dozens of other examples that will guide you on your way to a successful CEO blog.