I am spending the end of this week surrounded by fellow bloggers at the annual Blogworld Expo in Las Vegas and it is one of my favorite events of the year both for the quality of the show and speakers as well as for the singular focus on blogging as a topic. This year, I have the privilege of doing a keynote session with Doug Ulman, the CEO of LIVESTRONG, where we will talk about how his organization has managed to go from a cause to a movement and what role social media has played in that evolution.
Aside from this great topic, though, I have spent a considerable time leading up to this event thinking about the topic of how to consistently create great content and keep a blog up to date. It is something that I personally struggle with all the time, as my blog is a personal one and is not something that I rely on to make money or support my family with. As a result, it is sometimes tough to keep up a commitment to post here. My philosophy over the six years of writing this blog has always been to write only when I have something meaningful to say and the time to do it right.
The challenge of knowing what to write about isn't easy. But the biggest advice I can offer is to get over your "blog guilt" for not writing more often and try to create situations for yourself where you can most easily be successful at continually creating great content. Here are a few tips to do that:
- Keep an archive of ideas. I have a document where I write down all the ideas for posts that I have. I keep it on my computer and consistently add to it. Sometimes there are ideas that I have which I keep there for months until something else comes up which reminds me of it and then I post about it. My recent post about the GAP logo was one example. I had the idea for that post some time ago, but it was only when the whole issue with GAP changing their logo and then reverting back to their old one came up that I was reminded of it and the topic for the post became timely once again.
- Half-write posts and always title them. Often I will get inspired to write something into a post but not have enough information or research in order to finish the post. Writing half of the post is something I can do in 10 or 15 minutes, even though I know doing the rest of it may take another hour or two. So I will write what I have in my head, and put a title on the post so I can remember the main point I was making. Then I have something I can return to when I have a bit more time and the process of writing doesn't have to start with a blank screen.
- Always include links and always try to click them. Links are great for providing context, but they can also connect your blog post to other things that are out there. By clicking your own links, you can subtly let the person or organization who you linked to that you wrote about them. Because most people pay attention to their web stats, they will see where the link came from and either visit through a Google Alert or similar tracking method to come back to your post.
- Think creatively about your content. One presentation that I did several years ago which I am still proud of was called the "25 Styles of Blogging." It was created to outline several types of blog posts that any blogger could use to keep their blog content fresh and interesting. I am embedding it at the end of this post so you can easily read and digest those tips as well – they continue to help me when I hit a wall in terms of what to write about.
- Create your own set of rules for what works. After you have been blogging for some time, you'll start to get a sense for what works best in your area. For me, using conventions like numbered lists to share thoughts or incorporating images or video tend to work very well. I know that I focus on having a blog where I am not just identifying something interesting, but sharing a definite point of view about it and whether it is good or bad. This is a mix of forming a writing style and knowing what your readers want to read and it is vital as you start to build your audience on your blog.
Today and tomorrow I'm looking forward to reading and hearing many more insights from the attendees and speakers at the Blogworld Expo. You can follow the conversations live on Twitter by tracking the hashtag/keyword for the event: "#BWE10"