I’ve been having a lot of private conversations recently with other bloggers, over Skype, and we often end up debating on the different approaches we each take to blogging, and the different types of results each technique achieves. When you’ve been writing for any length of time, you always get curious as to how the other half lives, so I’ve decided to share here my own current processes and ethos here with you on producing content.
Writing quick drafts is one of my own favourite ways to stay motivated and continue to write. When a fresh idea for a new post comes to me when I’m online, (or at any other point in the day) I’ll often jump straight to my drafts, and write a headline summarizing the idea.
When it comes around to writing a new post for the next week, I’ll jump into my drafts, and pick out an idea that I’ve had previously, and this will be enough of a kick to the head to get my brain going. For the times when I’m not at the computer, I tend to record my own little vox pop on my phone, which I’ll later transcribe into a draft.
If I find myself stumbling across any trends or insight online frequently, and the subject matter interests me, I’ll often start a little list post that I can add to with URL’s over time. This is almost a micro-blogging approach, which I can expand upon as time goes on. After all, no point wasting that content on Twitter.
Take Home Tips
Whatever it is you are blogging on, its always been my opinion that people want to read content that educates them. Regardless of whether they are a “teacher” or not. Sure, opinion and news is great, and that can attract links, but who remembers it in a year? It gets buried in a sea of insignificance over time. Yesterday’s paper telling yesterday’s news.
In every piece that I produce I try to make a conscious effort to create content that people can take something away from. One little tip. Sometimes that’s all it take in your article to make people feel its worthy of sharing, and worthy of becoming a reader. It also makes your content something that people can stumble upon in a year, and still find useful.
Quality verses Quantity
My basic rule of thumb for keeping this blog up to date, is one new post per week, and when I can, I’ll publish more content than that. However, producing really great content regularly is hard work, and unfortunately takes time.
There was a time when Google rewarded quantity over quality. Prior to them changing the way things worked, many spammers and bloggers just spat out post after post after post, increasing the size of their website, and the resulting traffic. Those sorts of tricks don’t fly any more, and rightly so.
In my opinion its easier to gain good targeted traffic by creating less fluff, and concentrating on creating meaty, useful and interesting pieces. Sure, I could split up some of my articles into 300 word posts and spread them over a couple of days for traffic… but would this attract as many links? Not in my opinion. Contrary to popular belief, people do actually like smart, long form content online.
It certainly wouldn’t keep you guys as engaged with my content, or make me proud of each and every article I produce. Its the good old tortoise verses the hare approach. In any case I want to have a digital asset that I’m proud of, and isn’t just some cheap shot at getting visitors.
Guest posting is a crucial part of blogging, both from an SEO, and readership point of view. When I guest post, there’s one sneaky trick I’ve used previously to win friends and influence people. It’s one of those things so obvious that I’m often surprised at when even big bloggers fail to do it.
The main objective when you guest post, is to funnel visitors from a potentially larger audience onto your site, and potentially get them to convert into subscribers. Right?
Well, the single biggest thing you can do to improve your chances of conversion, is to showcase a similar piece of content on your own site. Assuming visitors have enjoyed your guest post, and clicked through onto your site, the easiest way to make them stick around, is to publish a complimentary piece of content on your own site that makes them continue to read. If you’ve proved to them that your writing prowess is worth sticking around to read more of, (after all they’ve just read two of your articles) – your chances of turning that person into a long time subscriber improves dramatically. An engaged visitor, is ALOT easier to convert.
I’ve got a lot of interests, and rightly or wrongly, I write on a variety of topics. Everything from programming, to graphic design, to marketing. A lot of people have recommended that I stick to a chosen subject of interest, and only blog on that. “Anything else, send it as a guest post to someone else Paul.” I can see why they’ve suggested that. It makes sense to aim at becoming the biggest, or the best at a particular subject.
The other side of the coin, for me personally is that
1) I minimise the risk of running out of ideas. There’s little chance out of the 22 topics you see to your right, that I’ll find myself unable to write about any of them
2) Combined, they become a useful reference point, and cater to a wider range of tastes than a niche ever could. This gives the site a flexibility to grow and change direction easily over time.
3) It removes the magic a little. Writing a blog for me, is as much about learning what people want to read, and watching and analysing the traffic that particular pieces over time. If I limit myself to one particular topic area “because its what the experts say” that isn’t testing. I’d rather make informed choices about that myself.
Take a look at the major blogs which you currently read – all have started out small, and increased the scope of the information they provide. I’m not about to limit my growth by concentrating on too small an area of content. If all else fails, you can always try to gauge opinion with a poll.
For every piece that I publish, it only takes one person in Google Reader to like it, or one person to share it on Facebook or Twitter to make writing a long piece worthwhile. That’s what motivates me. I blog because I get a kick out of watching people interact with something I’ve created out of my head, and a written expression of ideas.
Autonomy, Mastery and purpose some would say. This video sums it up blogging for me pretty well. Great mind candy here folks.
What’s your approach to blogging? Anything to share? Let me know in the comments.