I have a confession to make: I frequently advise my clients to blog, and have even ghostwritten a blog or two. This past month, the unthinkable happened: I went 4 weeks without posting new content to my own blog. Holy blog fail, Batman!
If you have been blogging for any length of time, you know that feeling of dread when your blog post is due and you are facing a blank page. As days lapsed, I couldn’t even enjoy a leisurely walk or a good TV show, knowing my un-posted blog was waiting! I got back on track by reminding myself of the fundamentals.
To help others avoid my “lapsed blogger” fate, here’s a list of suggestions that will hopefully make blogging on a schedule easier:
1. Editorial calendar:
When I was winging it week to week, my blog got off track. Take this time-tested advice: build an editorial calendar. Brainstorm blog topics around your SEO keywords, and plot them on an actual calendar 3- 12 months out. Establish a specific schedule: i.e., plan to post Thursdays at 10 a.m. … and stick to it!
2. It takes a village:
Companies with multiple employees can assign topics from their editorial calendar to members of the team, but even sole practitioners can invite related professionals to guest blog. Guest blogging adds value: it can strengthen your business relationships, inform your readers, and give exposure to the guest blogger … a win-win for all parties. (PS: want to guest blog? let me know in the comments!)
3. What to write about?
Content is the engine that inevitably drives your social media train, so begin with some key foundational topics (again, think blog SEO) and keep a running list of new ideas. Inspiration can come from anywhere!
Here are specific ideas for blog content creation that I find useful: (this list comes from The Executive’s Guide to Social Media Strategy, quoted/paraphrased here with permission from the author):
- Go through your sent items on Friday (pull out anything that’s more than 5 paragraphs long and polish it into a blog post.
- Go to search.twitter.com and search for keywords. Write a 3 paragraph post that responds to one or more of these tweets.
- What are you consuming? Books, other blogs, etc. … anything you’re finding especially useful and interesting, you can tell others about in 2-3 paragraphs.
- Take 20 minutes at the end of the day and think about who you’ve talked to and what you’ve learned. Summarize into a 200 word post!
- What did you explain to someone today, that you’ve explained at least 2-3 times before? Another blog post!
- What cool things are your customers doing? What innovative ways are they using your product or service? Client stories are great … give details!
- What documents or presentations are you working on? Excerpt a paragraph or two, give your readers a sneak peak!
- What are you researching? Do a search on the topic and see what you find, link to results and share your thoughts.
- Read the blogs on your blog roll. Find at least one to comment on, and then expand on it slightly. Link back to the original post.
- Write a top ten list.
4. Links, and More Links
Google loves links. Inbound links are the holy grail, but outbound links are also valued when they are relevant. A round up of top links for your blog topic can be useful to your audience. For instance, here are some of my bookmarks on this topic:
- 50 Can’t-Fail Techniques for Finding Great Blog Topics | Copyblogger
- 6 Ways to Constantly Produce Quality Blog Content | Social Media Examiner
- Smarter B2B Blogging – 5 Ways to Source Content – Online Marketing Blog
- 100 Ways To Find Ideas For Your Blog Posts | LifeSnips
- Conversation Agent: How do You Develop a Blog Content Strategy?
4. Breaking News as Inspiration
Stay culturally tapped in. I recently read a blog post that drew comparisons between March Madness and Marketing. The topical title got readership, and it was clearly fun for the author to write. Leave room in your calendar to post opportunistically as the moment moves you.
5. A picture is worth 1000 words.
Take a break from writing: post a picture, video or topical cartoon, to keep your blog fresh and engaging. Tom Fishburne (“the Marketoonist”)is one of my favorites.
6. Stay Focused:
Never forget what your blog is about, and who you are targeting! This may sound incredibly elementary, but it is easy for a blog to start to drift. Here’s an example of how staying focused can lead to better results:
To differentiate himself in a crowded field, Rob Peterson consistently blogs about “Social Media ROI“. Over time he began to become known as an authority on this topic, which lead to SEO ranking for this phrase, and more professional opportunity. Instead of being all things to all people, consider your value proposition up front. Determine what you want to stand for, and keep driving content around that.
Blogging, like all of social media, boils down to engagement. If you just churn out more me-too content, your blog will bore you as well as your reader, and will start to feel like silicone handcuffs when it comes time to sit down to write.
Some blogs are worth following because they are educational, some inspirational, but the best blogs …the ones I remember … are personal. Instead of one more business chore, view your blog as an opportunity to bring your personal experience and unique vantage point to your reader. Have fun creating your blog, and others will enjoy reading and sharing your posts as much as you enjoyed writing them. Blog on!