24 ways to feed the blog beast

Wed, Nov 17, 2010

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Last weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak at the first-ever WordCamp in Minnesota. 300-plus people showed up to learn, network and get free WordPress swag (yes, I took home my fill of WordPress shirts, stickers and toys).

The discussion I led focused on ways to blog more regularly. A challenge many of us face regularly–on the personal AND professional sides. We all face the common challenges: Lack of time and ideas, mainly.

So, I centered my presentation on that concept and made a list–24 ways to feed your blog beast. Instead of sharing the actual presentation (it’s a Prezi; I know, big surprise), I thought I’d share the list in bulleted format, so I could explain a few of the points a bit more. Enjoy.

#1-Pick a time and stick to it. David Mullen was one of the first people I talked to online about blogging. That wasn’t by accident. When I asked him early on in my blogging how he found the time to blog regularly (he has a day job at Mullen and two small kids at home, much like me), he said, I blog between midnight and 2 a.m. The larger point? Pick a time that works for you and stick with it. Make it appointment blogging.

#2-Use more video. Chris Brogan does a wonderful job here with his book reviews he throws in the mix every so often. The guy is traveling about 300 days a year. He has no time. Yet, he has 10 minutes in his hotel room to record a short video review of a book he’s been reading recently. Perfect way for him not only to connect with his readers more closely, but also use his time more efficiently.

#3-Channel your inner Godin. If you read Seth Godin’s blog, I shouldn’t have to explain this one. Don’t write a thesis paper. Write a mad lib.

#4-Max out existing opportunities. Chuck Hemann just had a post Monday that talked about a recent trip and the lessons he learned on the voyage. Great example illustrating this point. The other example I like to use often–take a Flip to the next conference you attend, target 3-4 people you want to meet and ask them for a quick 3-minute interview. Most of the time, they will not turn you down and you’ll have instant footage for a blog post when you get back to your computer.

#5-Identify regular guest bloggers. Gini Dietrich does a wonderful job of this (so does Danny Brown; coincidence that they’ve become fast friends?). Look for guest bloggers who have something to say. Then, ask them to come say it on your blog. A great way to build community–and with a minimal time commitment on your end.

#6-Use more lists. Lists posts have become commonplace on the Web these days. But, used the right way, they can be a tremendous resource. I think back to Dave Fleet’s post a couple year’s back about the top 40 people to follow in PR. Great post at a time when Twitter was still evolving and folks weren’t sure who to follow. I used that post as a reference for quite a while.

#7-Crowdsource. A tactic I use frequently. Poll your friends/colleagues/fellow bloggers around a specific topic (here I polled a few folks on their favorite non-PR blogs to read). Great way to build a post using the collective brainpower of your community.

#8-Don’t forget about the little things. I wrote a post earlier this year about this approach. My muse: A guy using a full iMac in a local Caribou Coffee shop. You might be surprised what piques your readers’ interest.

#9-Summarize a Twitter chat. My favorite example here is fellow solo PR pro Kellye Crane and her #solopr weekly chat. Kellye always posts a recap a day or so after the chat summarizing the discussion and highlighting the key points.

#10-Talk about your day. A tribute to my son (we “talk about his day” every night before bed). Think back to what happened during your day. Often, there’s a nugget you can mine for a post.

#11-How-to posts. My friend and colleague, Tony Saucier, does a great job with how-to posts on his Pounded Thumb blog. What can you teach people to do on your blog? Think about that and create a how-to series of your own.

#12-Repurpose presentations. David Griner does a great job repurposing his presentations on the Social Path blog regularly. But, he doesn’t just throw the slide deck up on the blog–he provides a bit of much-needed context leading in. Great way to take advantage of content you already have in the can.

#13-Book reviews. See #2 above.

#14-Get personal. I wrote a post dubbed “The opportunity cost of success” a couple weeks ago. It was a personal topic for me and I opened up a bit. I was surprised by the responses. In fact, after thanking one commenter via email, he wrote back a four-page-long email talking about his personal story and struggle with work-life balance. One lesson I’ve learned over the last two years of blogging: Don’t be afraid to cut open a vein.

#15-Use email to spark new ideas. While most email is garbage on any given day, pay attention to the meaningful strings in your day and see if you can’t identify a post idea or two in there somewhere.

#16-Chronicle a challenge. Think about a new skill you want to learn, or a new tool you want to learn how to use. Then, write about the process you’re using to acquire that skill or learn about that tool. We can all benefit by how we learn.

#17-Q&A posts. Melissa Berggren does a great job here with her Q&A posts with various professionals around the Twin Cities. Great way to share expertise with your readers–with a minimal time investment for you (remember, the expert is doing the heavy lifting by answering your questions).

#18-Weekly recaps. Shonali Burke has been doing a wonderful job with this approach lately. Summarize a few posts you found interesting throughout the week, and post away. Love this idea because it’s relatively easy (if you do a lot of reading and bookmark diligently) and doesn’t take a ton of time. And, it’s a great way to curate content for your readers (a valuable public service they will appreciate).

#19-Comments ARE the post. What a brilliant idea, right? My friend Adam Singer gives us a great example on his Future Buzz blog (great regular read, by the way).

#20-Best of posts. Ever go back and look at some of your more popular and well-read posts in Google Analytics over the last few months? Why not take that content and aggregate it in its own post? Instant new content! Valeria Maltoni will do this from time to time–great idea.

#21-Interviews. You know why I love interviews as a blogging idea? A) They give you an opportunity to reach out to folks you may not normally connect with, and B) They can help recognize people who deserve the spotlight, and C) They require minimal effort on your part (devising the questions and writing the introduction copy, essentially). My friend, Becky Johns, gives us a great example of this strategy with her “Influencer” series. Fantastic content for Becky. And, I’m sure, what’s been a great way for her to get to know some very, very smart people over the last few months.

#22-Doodle. This bullet point begins and ends with David Armano. Check out his Visual Thinking FlickR page. He uses these visuals regularly on his blog. The lesson? You don’t always have to think in terms of text. Visuals work, too.

#23-Take a contrarian point of view. Another useful ideas I’ve gleaned from Adam Singer over the last few months. He’s taken on the likes of Pete Cashmore and Mashable and most recently Charlene Li. The key: He always does it in a respecful way using facts and data to support his arguments.

#24-Case studies. One of the key ways we all learn is through watching others and learning from their failures or successes. There are so many blogs that highlight great case studies these days. I particularly enjoy the B2B case studies highlighted over at B2B Social Media–one of my favorite blogs.

Again, what tips would you add?

Note: Photo courtesy of urosinho via FlickR Creative Commons.

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16 comments
Jcapz
Jcapz

This was such a great read. As a new blogger sometimes I get overwhelmed with ideas and what to do. Thank you for the post I greatly appreciate it.

Brilliant post, Arik.

Keep up the great work.

God bless you, always.

Nuruddin

Ricardo Bueno
Ricardo Bueno

Ari: Great write-up! A gentle reminder that I need to go back and do a few things. I used to be great about writing How To posts with little video tutorials. One of them landed me 23,000+ views on YouTube (how's that for viral!). And then I just stopped :-/ I think I need to revisit this again and do it weekly.

As for your other suggestions (all of them great by the way), I think you helped spark a few more ideas, so thank you :-)

Pablo
Pablo

I am always impressed with Chris Brogan's reviews. He does such a great job! Perfect example of how to make an impact via the blog.

Jon Thomas
Jon Thomas

This is so so useful. One of my biggest challenges is staying true to my blogging schedule and continually coming up with post ideas.

Just finding an article relevant to your audience, linking to it, and giving your perspective on it is also a great way to add content.

Melissa Berggren
Melissa Berggren

Arik, love how you download your presentations to your blog. This post inspired me in a few ways - there's nothing worse than thinking "I have nothing meaningful to say today." I typically wait those days out until I'm feeling inspired... but these idea can help fuel that inspiration. :)

Chuck Hemann
Chuck Hemann

Hey Arik - excellent tips, and thanks for the mention. Personally, I'm a big fan of #23. Said a different way - be original. There are a number of people talking about social/pr/marketing. Establishing your voice/niche is critical to developing a readership.

Shonali Burke, ABC
Shonali Burke, ABC

Thanks for the shout out, Arik! Do you find you need to have a good "space" for blogging? I.e. a clean desk, a particular place, etc., where it's conducive for you to write? I've tried the "appointment blogging" thing and that hasn't worked for me so far (maybe I just haven't tried hard enough), but I do find that when I zone everything else out - including email - it helps immensely.

Avron Olshewsky
Avron Olshewsky

Arik, this is a really useful post moreover you are practicing what you preach !

ElizabethSmithson
ElizabethSmithson

Excellent post! I love the tips...I find appointment blogging definitely works for me, but some of the others I learned along with the list.

Mike Walsh
Mike Walsh

Great ideas here Arik. ht to @armano for posting on his facebook page.

DavidGriner
DavidGriner

Great stuff as always, Arik, and thanks for the mention. Love the idea of "talk about your day." I often start to write what could be great posts on daily conversations/experiences, then become concerned that I might be spilling the strategic beans or exposing too much info about our clients. Instead of just deleting, I really should work harder to make the post work. Real-world experiences generate some of the best discussions, no doubt.

jlbraaten
jlbraaten

This is an outstanding post, Arik! In the same vein as your How-To post, it's important not to sell yourself short. It may seem trivial that you know how to do something, but others may not. Often, the most obvious How-To is the also the best.

Also, you get special bonus points for using Beast Man as your graphic. Write anything with a He-Man slant and you're bound to get nostalgic 30-somethings to read it. The same goes with Thundercats, MASK and Silverhawks. :)

Arik Hanson
Arik Hanson

I think I stumbled on one of your how-to vid posts before--you definitely should start that back up. People LOVE how-to vids--especially around tech components.

Ricardo Bueno
Ricardo Bueno

Thanks for the positive encouragement my friend. I definitely will :-)

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