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How a Blog is like a House

Author:
house

Photo Credit: Julie Jordan Scott

A blog may be like a home, but a number of posts have been written about how a blog – or a site – should be welcoming. It has to invite a person to enter. It has to attract the audience, the one person, the blogger seeks.

Those things are true, but they neglect a simple fact: a home is a house long before it becomes a home. The “hominess” is the result of a person living within a house and adding one’s own touch or flair to the dwelling. That doesn’t mean the house should be neglected in favor of style and decorative elements; quite the opposite. A home loses its allure when the paint fades or the foundation cracks. No one wants to live in an environment where the pipes spring leaks or where the floor is susceptible to becoming a sinkhole. People want to live in a place where they can rest in safety, where they can be comfortable.

Always check the foundation.

What is the foundation of a blog? It’s the underlying structure of the blog. It’s how the blog – the site – is arranged and organized. It’s the purpose, the why. Without that organization and understanding, the house becomes dysfunctional. Rooms are used for purposes that they are not meant. The house becomes a labyrinth. Its confusing structure catches a person unaware; the person becomes so lost within the blog that he or she cannot find the purpose behind it nor can he or she understand how to navigate from one part of the site to another.

Examine the walls.

The next component of the house are the walls – the things that find their roots in the foundation and hold up the roof. The walls of a blog are the actual posts. The posts are built upon the underlying foundation. They support the purpose of the blog, whatever that may be. For one blogger, it may be teaching his or her audience a new cake-decorating technique. For another, it could be sharing practical ways for becoming a better speaker. In both cases, the walls – the posts – must support those underlying purposes. If they don’t, the walls fall. The homeowner has to start again, this time keeping his or her purpose, the foundation, in mind.

Consider the roof.

Once the walls have been established, the roof can be addressed. The roof brings the four walls together. It unifies them. It gives cohesion to the walls and completes the work begun by the foundation. While the walls primarily act as an extension of the foundation, they also point toward the roof. They work toward a common goal, whether that be the goal of more e-letter subscribers, visits to the blog, or book sales. The roof is, in a way, the bookend of the foundation. The foundation is incomplete without the roof just as the roof is incomplete without the foundation. They need each other, and they need the walls that bring them together.

Now, build a house.

What joins the foundation, the walls, and the roof? A house can’t be built with only a concrete slab and some plywood and bricks. Other tools and supplies are needed. The different components of a house are brought together through piping, nails, and support beams. Such things in a blog are the things that the audience rarely sees or considers. It’s things like themes, which tie back to the purpose found in the foundation and the goal found in the roof. It’s consistency in writing blog posts. It’s things like grammar. Those things – and others – support the foundation, walls, and roof and bring those three things together. They are the glue, the cement, the nuts and bolts, the nails and staples.

The house already exists, and it has problems.

Of course, it’s not always that simple for the blogger. Not every blogger gets to start with a newly built house. Some bloggers have to work with pre-existing ones. Often, the conditions of that house are not ideal. Perhaps the foundation has sunk on one side of it. Maybe one of the walls is sagging. The roof could have a leak. Maybe some of the nails are missing, or a previous owner stretched the limits of a support beam. The house could have been vandalized. Maybe it has been left empty for so long that it requires not only maintenance but also the tearing down of walls so that they can be rebuilt. What does the blogger do in that case?

The blogger has one of two choices: he or she can ignore the issue or address it. Neither of those choices are preferable; the first only prolongs the inevitable, and the second means labor and inconvenience. Once the concern has been identified, though, something has to be done. That could mean adding support piers where the foundation has sunk. It could mean replacing windows and doors or adding insulation. Any of those acts has repercussions. Altering the foundation could result in nothing happening, but it’s equally likely that some sheetrock could crumble or that some plumbing could start to leak.

It’s also true that houses start to show their age after a certain amount of time. The house will need repairs. It could be time for a fresh coat of paint. The roof might need to be replaced. The walls could have started to crumble and need to be reinforced in some way. Maybe the homeowner now has a family and needs to add a room or two, that is, if the homeowner chooses to stay in his or her current house.

Blogging is no different; blogs start to show their age, too. The foundation may develop problems. Maybe the site needs a new look to bring it up-to-date and to keep it competitive with other sites. It could be that new goals – a new roof – are needed, particularly if the existing ones have been reached. Perhaps the posts need to grow and mature in order to support both the foundation and the roof.

Why all this focus on a blog as a house? Because it’s only after addressing foundational and structural issues that a house can become a home. It’s only then that a blogger can concern himself or herself with style and with adding that bit of personality that makes a site his or her blog.

The Flowering Structure of a Podcast

Author:

So you’re got a microphone ready, there might be a camera in the background with a blinking LED, and it’s time for you to record your latest podcast. But where to start?

One of the questions I get asked a lot is "what should I talk about" in a podcast. To be honest as long as you are talking about something you are passionate about, which has elements of entertainment, education and information, you’re probably on the right track. What’s just as important is how you say it. There’s a structure that’s worked well for me for presentations, seminars, training courses, and podcasts, and I want to throw it out there as a rule of thumb just now.

It’s a pretty simple formula for framing your chunk of information you want in the podcast. The thing you want to tell people sits nicely in the middle. Right before you tell people, you tell them what you’re going to tell them. Once you’ve told them, tell them what you just told them.

Okay you’ll be using some production tricks between the three parts, but a strong "welcome to the show, today I’m going to tell you how to fly to Paris" followed by a jingle, then how to fly to the French capital, followed by another jingle or musical sting, and then "that was how to get to Paris, for more, listen to the next Wonderful World of Travelling episode."

Too broad strokes for you? Then break down the fly to Paris in to two or three sections – for example landing at the Airport, and then travelling to the centre of town. Tell them first you’ll talk about the airport experience, then tell them, then remind them as you move towards the city centre.

With this "flowering" technique you can not only break down a big presentation in a podcast, but you’ll have a natural flow of information, alternating new facts and reinforcement through repetition, as well as a structure that can be used again and again. It’s a great framework when you start out, but also a good safety net if you loose focus and have no idea what to do – it wouldn’t be the first time that this has saved me in a live show!

Tell ’em what you’ll tell them – tell them – tell them what you told em.

Simple.

Image Source: Yukiroad, Creative Commons.

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