A friend recently started blogging for her NGO. She asked me for a few tips on blogging. Instead of just sharing with her what I have learned I thought I would share it here for everybody to benefit and connect better with their tribe.
-Writing about topics you are passionate about makes things a lot easier.
In his book “Crush It”, Gary Vaynerchuk recommends blogging about something 500 times. If you can do that, you can be sure that you are passionate about the subject. If that seems really hard, try tweaking the focus of your writing. For example. If you are a food blogger and love to travel, focus on travel cuisine or obscure locations and their foods. It sure worked for Anthony Boudin!
-Make it as short or as long as you want.
Some of my favorite bloggers often only post a sentence. Don’t let anyone tell you “you have to do it this way or that”. My friend Jon Dale http://www.jondale.com/how-long/ wrote an excellent post on this topic. I completely agree with him.
-Use an editorial calendar.
What is that? It is any way that you plan out your posts based on a set schedule. I use a couple of different tools depending on the blog. You can use Google calendar, a WordPress plugin or a paper calendar. One helpful way to make this tool your best friend is to write down even the simplest idea (for me it sometimes is a video or web link or a topic headline.) Then I can go back and write the post later. At least I captured the idea and scheduled it for a possible post date. Before you know it you will have months worth of posts planned.
Here is more on editorial calendars:
-Enlist the help of others
If you are blogging for an organization, ask others to help you write posts. For one company I created a blogging team with every employee. From the fifty plus employees, we ended up with a team of about ten dedicated bloggers. Find a way to incentivise the plan. You may be surprised by the results.
Another way to gather help is to invite others to guest post. Plan this well. You always want to make sure the message stays on topic.
-Think outside the regular “post.”
A blog post can be a picture, video, cartoon. Open up the limits of what you think a blog post is. Break some rules.
-Become a regular blog reader.
Find a few blogs that you enjoy. They don’t even have to be limited to your topic either. Make it a point to pay attention to the posts that get you thinking or wanting to comment in response. Those are the ones that have just inspired a new blog post of your own. Take whatever you are thinking or wanting to comment and turn it into a post of your own. I always try to link it back to the original inspiration somehow and give credit to where the idea originated. Sometimes it does not work that way. That is ok too.
Here is a post I wrote on that topic.
-Don’t hold back
One lesson I have learned is not to edit myself. Yes, be careful not to post things that will get you or your organization in trouble. In other words, don’t be stupid. That said, there is plenty of room for more here. Being too careful also makes us boring.
If this is a topic that you love, I guarantee you will have a controversial thing to say about it. Say it.
-Gather some tools that will help you become a great writer.
I love to write. Editing, not so much. I have become a great at it with a little help. Here are some resources that will help.
1. Grammarly.com I found this tool about a month ago and it has not only made my writing better but has taught me so much. The full version has over 250 points of grammar checks. The free version checks 150 of the most common error. Check it out and be amazed.
2. Focus better with OmmWriter. This tool turns your Mac into a focused writing environment. Making it hard to jump into the browser and keeping your social apps and notifications at bay allows that time for the good writing to happen. I just free write when I have it open.
3. A journal for your notes. I try to carry one of these everywhere. I do use my phone as well, but I prefer a paper journal for the days I want to be offline. I jot random ideas. Coming back from a conference once, I wrote ten blog posts in my journal and later transcribed them to the blog. You never have to worry about batteries dying either.
Well, that has been a lot to digest. I have turned off comments since I have been blogging daily (another useful tip if you want to focus on writing and not answering comments), but I will turn them on for this post. Please ask me anything and I will try to answer them as best as I can or enlist the help of some blogger friends.
Happy blogging and connecting!