You’ve got a chance right now. While everyone else has their eyes on celebrating the holidays and doing all their year end rituals, you can make a commitment. You can make your New Year’s resolution almost a full month early. Here’s what you can commit to for 2009: you’re going to have a killer blog. You’re going to write the kind of blog people post, tweet, link, and even print to stick up on their office wall. Your blog in 2009 is going to be the kind of blog that people use to power their own change. This is your chance to get out there and kick ass.
You can do this. You can deliver with the impact you want, and build on the work you’ve already done. I don’t claim that I know every little secret, but I tell you this: I get a lot of decent results with what I’m doing so far. You want some ideas from my side of the page? Here: take 40 of them. And if you want, add to them in your own blog post (pointing back to here). Ready?
- Brevity rules. Can you say it briefly?
- Start at the main point, then work the story up. (Make the main point in the first paragraph.)
- Use small words. You don’t have to impress people. You have to be clear.
- Analogies help people understand things better.
- So do stories.
- You don’t have to write complete sentences, even though your teacher taught you to do that. But treat it sparingly. Like this. Like a condiment.
- Keep paragraphs small, if possible. We balk at large blocks of text.
- Make your point from the reader’s side of the fence. Who is your audience?
- Depending on how you write, go back and see if you can cut out more. Reduce. Reduce.
- Use the word you’re thinking about, not a fancier, or more polite word.
Concepts and the Bigger Picture
- Set up series of posts, even if you don’t call them a series. Make a post that brings up follow-on points from a previous post, and link back to that post to reinforce the original content.
- Get your inspiration from reading. #1 source for my ideas comes from other blogs not in my space. Not sure what to read that’s NOT in your space? Alltop, my friend. ( see also).
- Think strategically, if this is for business or a cause. Ask yourself what you want your reader to do next. Try to write from that point of view.
- Theme-wise, writing very helpful things that people can use is way better than writing thoughtful things that make people think and just walk away. You can have thoughtful but not helpful, but you’re striving for helpful and thoughtful in the same piece.
- Never write the me-too blog. Look to be ahead of the wave and feeding backwards, not behind the wave and eating someone’s wake.
- Look for ways to think forward, but that tie to your business interests. When I write about the future, I’m also inviting someone to make that future with me.
- Mix it up. Keep an editorial calendar and note what kinds of posts you’ve written lately. Thought posts? Lists? Interviews? Make sure you’re mixing up the type of post you’ve written lately.
- Consider the occasional dip into Google Trends to write a story that might draw new audience to your conversation. Don’t do this all the time, because the gimmick can wear off quick. Again, think condiments, not meals.
- If you don’t have anything interesting to blog, skip a day. Don’t skip many days.
- And never never never (raise your hand and repeat this with me) “I” (state your name) “solemnly swear never never never never ever to post another ‘I’m sorry I haven’t blogged lately’ posts ever again. Ever.”
- Consider your audience but write from your passion.
- Don’t mince words. If it’s a “pissing match,” it’s not a disagreement.
- Ask questions. Blogs are conversations starting and flowing. Ask. Questions.
- Link to people. If you write about Steve Garfield, link to Steve Garfield.
- It’s not all about your blog. Get out and comment on other people’s blogs. Often.
- Leave a few ideas unfinished. Ask for input. It always improves a piece. Blogs are great for that.
- Use tags. Lots of tags. Make sure you claim your blog with Technorati, and submit it with Alltop.
- Make sure your blog’s URL is everywhere: in your email signature, in Facebook, in Flickr, in Twitter, in every outpost you can think about.
- Don’t email, DM, and otherwise push every blog post you write to other people. Share the best ones. Let the others be found on their own merits.
- Always know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Question yourself often. Look for ways to improve the game.
- Comment back to the people who have left comments.
- Follow those people’s links sometimes and go explore their blog.
- Look for ways to empower the community you inspire.
- If you haven’t found your community yet, keep looking, searching, and connecting.
- Learn about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). It’s no longer okay not to know even the most basic things.
- Find great Creative Commons photos and use them for your post (with attribution).
- Deconstruct what your favorite writers do, and try it your own way.
- Occasionally, try something completely different.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid of not being interesting enough.
- Write as if someone believes in you, because someone does. (me!)
And if that’s not enough, here’s my best advice about blogging.
What do you think? Any questions? Anything I left out?
Photo credit, motorpsykhos