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Cartoon: Plea-e enj-y o-r fr-e w-rel-ss

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Flaky wireless connections are a fact of life for bloggers on the move. If it isn’t tortoise-slow downloads, it’s a password that never seems to “take”. If it isn’t a connection that keeps dropping, it’s a router that refuses to give you an IP address.

Okay. So the connection’s too unreliable to let you post to your blog, and your mobile contract doesn’t include tethering. Don’t let that keep you from blogging. Here are five ways you can work on your blog, even when you aren’t connected to hive mind:

1. Outline your next blog post. Maybe you can’t do the research you want, find the URLs of the posts you’d like to link to, or hunt down the perfect Creative Commons image to illustrate your post. But you can sketch out the bare bones, and add the muscles, organs and stylish accessories once you’re back online.

2. Clean up your hard drive. If you’re like me, you have little snippets of blog ideas and drafts all over the place. Bring them together in one folder, or one text file (your workflow will vary), and you’ll be miles ahead of the game next time you’re stumped for a post idea.

3. Raid your subconscious. Break out the mind-mapping software, open up your Moleskine or just scribble on a napkin – but brainstorm ideas for your next five, ten or fifty posts. Don’t try to assess them at first; just get as many down as possible. Then, once the storm peters out, pick out the best and add them to your idea file.

4. Make a to-do list. Chances are there are things you’ve been meaning to do for your blog: add a Delicious feed, check out an e-commerce plug-in, create a promo card to hand out at conferences. Set priorities according to the effort each task will require and the impact you expect each one to have, and you’ve just built yourself a development queue.

5. Doodle. Draw something funny, or funny-ish. Then snap your doodle with your camera phone or digital camera. Once you’re online, upload it as a blog post. Hey – it works for me. 🙂

Rob Cottingham is a cofounder of social media strategy firm Social Signal, a blogger since 2001, and the pen behind Noise to Signal for the past three years. Find him on Twitter at @robcottingham.

Cartoon: Last RSSpects

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It can be hard to admit, but blogs have a life cycle – and, in some cases, a best-before date that may be well in the past. Your passion for the subject matter wanes; other interests beckon; your readers and commenters, maybe sensing your faltering commitment, move on to other venues.

And that’s okay. There’s no shame in saying that a blog has run its course. But as Allison wrote in a post here last week, even the most moribund of blogs may not be beyond resuscitation (and she offered a few suggestions for virtual CPR).

If you’re starting to notice the unpleasant smell of decay whenever you visit your blog, here are a few more ideas for bringing it back to life:

  • Redefine the subject. If your interests have changed, then let your readers know you’ll be introducing a new topic, and shifting the emphasis there.
  • Redefine the scope. If your blog died because you couldn’t keep up with the expectations you set around frequency, depth or comprehensiveness, then dial that back. Focus your energies more narrowly. Maybe instead of daily wall-to-wall coverage of a subject, you want to post twice a week on one aspect of it – and one of those posts is a collection of links, instead of your usual 20-paragraph essays.
  • Call in reinforcements. If you don’t think you can do it alone, but you have one or more colleagues or friends with similar interests and solid blogging skills, see if they’d be interested in joining your blog. The mutual encouragement can go a long way to getting you past a slump.
  • Hand it over. Find someone who shares your passion – or the passion you once had – and transfer the blog to them. You’ll know that all your hard work will still be alive and appreciated; they’ll be able to launch with a built-in readership and traffic stream to build on.

Still not feeling it? If you’re sure it’s time to close the doors and turn off the lights, then go ahead. But let your readers know you’re doing it. And give serious consideration to keeping your blog online (with comments switched off if you don’t plan to reply to them, or weed out spam). It’ll serve as a resource for others… and, if your interest should be rekindled or your spare time suddenly reappear, you’ve left the door open to a return from the grave.

Rob Cottingham is a cofounder of social media strategy firm Social Signal, a blogger since 2001, and the pen behind Noise to Signal for the past three years. Find him on Twitter at @robcottingham.

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