In all my years of blogging, I’ve put together what serves as a very simple formula for what I think about when I sit down to the keyboard to type. This might not serve everyone, but it might be a great start for you to consider when thinking about blogging. Also, let me know how close this relates to your own blogging methods.
I try to blog almost every day. I believe that daily gets more people back more often and keeps attention levels high. Many people will disagree with this, saying that it’s important to only blog when you have decent content and something worth saying. Here’s the thing: I always have something I feel is worth saying. I have months more ideas than I have time to write them. So first, and foremost, my assumption is that frequency matters. Look at how many people are subscribed to my blog via RSS (around 50K daily). That number grows the faster I post. It levels out on weeks when I slow down.
Let’s go through the formula:
Step 1: Decide WHAT the Post Should DO for You
I write posts for several purposes:
- To get a call to action.
- To attract business.
- To promote someone else.
- To get links and bookmarks and reblogs.
- To get a conversation started.
But I don’t do all of those things in every post. I start each post with a plan of what I want it to do. This post? I want you to reblog, to link, to bookmark, etc. That’s all. No solid call to action. Just some more inbound links.
Step 2: How Can I Be Helpful?
Every post that gets real traction on my blog comes from the mindset of being helpful to others. Other sites report news. TechCrunch, Mashable, Perez Hilton. Those sites rely on you to want what’s new. In my case, I rely on you wanting tips and advice and ideas that you can use for yourself.
So, I write every post to answer how I can be helpful. You can pick what you want people to visit your site for, but if it’s news and repeat entertainment, I find that a harder game to be in.
Step 3: The Actual Writing
I start with a headline. Then, I realize quite often that my headline stinks, and I go back and write a new one.
I then find a picture on Flickr under their Creative Commons area, so that I can use it with the post (unless I have one of my own to use).
My first paragraph is always a personable lead-in, usually with a question, and usually setting up the post. I know that I only have about 30 words to get you into it, and I cherish those 30 words.
I write with lots of chunking on posts that I want you to bookmark and revisit. Chunking in this case means doing things like putting subheaders in there.
I then make sure that the post is brief, unless I want lots of bookmarks, and then I make the post much longer. Why? Because you bookmark things that go over 500 or so words.
I finish on whatever I want you to do: either a question, or a call to action.
Review My Last Few Weeks’ Posts
Every few days, I look at what I’ve been writing over the past few weeks to make sure I’m not doing any repeats or overkill, and/or that I’m not just writing self-serving posts all the time. This helps me figure out whether I’m giving you what you deserve.
I put some of this information into a calendar for editorial decision making. I find that helps me keep a better mix of my fresh ideas plus my planned ideas.
If you’re not creating great stuff, then people move on. My goal is to have something of use to you (almost) every day. I bring more posts out, especially when others are on vacation.
Finally, with regards to all this, I work to keep the story fresh and give you a mix of storytelling about others and how-to for yourself. As my interests change and my focus changes, I try to make simple bridges for you to follow along. I lose a few people on the sharper turns, but I keep a lot of people, and gain new ones. It all works out.
Almost Forgot SEO
Oh, do you need to worry about your search engine optimization? I’m not especially versed in that, so I just use the Scribe SEO plugin (affiliate link). That way, if I need the post to rank better for something or other, the plugin helps me do the work. In my blog’s case, I don’t really care a lot about SEO. In client blogs, it matters a lot more.
How else can I be helpful?
Photo credit horia varlan