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I Don’t Like Your Stinkin’ Blog!

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Fun fact: Once, an ex-roommate of mine and I got into a shouting match. It was over something stupid of course. I don’t even remember what our issue was. Some guy. What I do remember is yelling, “I don’t care about your stinkin’ relationship advice!” She was in a successful long-term relationship, and I was not, so I got earfuls from her fairly often about what I was doing wrong. Often, I didn’t agree, but I would listen anyway. After all, she had a relationship that was quickly heading to marriage. I was all over the map.

Later, when we could laugh about it, we giggled at the passion at which I yelled about her “stinkin’ advice.” Whenever we would disagree from that point forth, one of us would always say something about not liking the others’ stinkin’ attitude, and we’d devolve into giggles. Still, my message was a good one to remember.

Originally, I used Bloglines as my feed reader, so when that service announced they’ve be closing a few months ago, I switched over to Google. When I made the move, I decided to purge my feeds. That was a tougher task than I thought it would be. I realized that there were a few blogs on my list that I dreaded reading every day.

I felt like I had to read them because they were well-respected blogs in one of the niches I covered. Every post, the blogs in question would double or even triple the number of comments I’d get on my top posts. They must be doing something right. I have to learn from these bloggers. I have to figure out what they’re doing that I’m not. I have to…I have to…I have to…

No. No, I don’t have to do anything. You might be a super popular blogger, but I don’t like your stinkin’ blog.

I think we have a lot to learn from one another. I certainly have a lot to learn from bloggers that are better than me. At the same time, I think that we sometimes fall into a trap of trying to emulate bloggers who are popular in our niches, even though we don’t personally like what they are doing. We want to find the success that they’ve found, and in striving for excellence (which is a good thing), we begin to doubt our personal tastes (which is a bad thing).

You may want to learn from other bloggers, but you don’t want their readers. If you have the exact same target market as another blog out there, maybe it’s time to reconsider what you’re writing. You want your own readers. This doesn’t always mean that you have to have drastically different content. Sometimes, it’s just about having a different voice. Learn from the people who have come before you and who are people in your niche…but learning from them doesn’t mean you have to support them or be a part of their community. If you don’t like someone’s stinkin’ blog, don’t subscribe to their stinkin’ blog.

Something interesting to note: My roommate and her almost-fiance boyfriend had a horrible break up a few years later. Apparently he had never been happy with her, but had stayed with her for a bunch of bad reasons. So apparently my instincts were right, and I’m glad I trusted them. Learn to trust yours.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Writing Well (@mkrigsman)

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Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night (or Monday morning), I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Monetizaton with Darren Rowse (@problogger)

I’m a writer, so blogging was something that I fell into naturally. Originally, this was a field that was only filled with people who enjoyed writing, simply because blogs weren’t monetized so the only reason to do it was for the love of writing. As more and more people begin to see blogging as a way to make money or build a brand, however, writers aren’t the only ones starting blogs. Monetization means that blogs are being run by people who don’t have a background in writing and, in many cases, don’t even like writing. Someone at #blogchat brought up an interesting point in regards to this:

@mkrigsman: If you don’t write well, then you cannot blog expertly. Great content requires skill created by devotion. No shortcuts.

First, let me talk about what I think people will take away from this tweet – then why I wholeheartedly believe it’s wrong.

When most people read this tweet, what they’ll read is, “if you aren’t a writer, your blog is going to suck.” I actually know quite a few people who have told me that they have a great blog idea, but they don’t like to write or don’t think they can write well, so they never do anything with their ideas. That makes me sad.

Frankly, you don’ t have to be good writer to be a good blogger in most cases. If you are blogging for entertainment purposes (such as posting short stories or creative non-fiction), being a good writer is necessary. But really, if you don’t like to write, why the heck would you start a blog using your writing to entertain others? That doesn’t make a lot of sense. No, most bloggers blog to share information about their niche. To do that, you don’t have to be a good writer.

To be a blogger, you have to learn to share you ideas clearly in a way that connects with your readers. Those are skills you can learn, not inherent talents. Becoming a good blogger is all about perfecting your craft, just like you do with any other job tasks. Someone working at Subway doesn’t have to enjoy making sandwiches to create a really taste lunch for me! You can’t teach talent, but you don’t need to be a talented writer to be an amazing blogger. I think that’s what @mkrigsman was trying to say, and what people should take away from this tweet.

If you aren’t a good writer or hate writing, you do have other choices. For example, you could record a weekly (or even daily) podcast to post on your blog or become a video blogger. You could also create a photo-centric blog if it fits your niche. Not everyone needs 500-word posts every single day. You have other options! You can even hire a virtual worker who is a good writer and do interviews with them so they can create your blog posts (or have them rewrite your work so it is easier to read).

Writing does get easier as you work on improving your skills. While a blog post may take you three hours now, in the future, you’ll start to learn how to write faster in a way that better connects to your audience. Even if you aren’t a writer, don’t give up! Your blog can be awesome.

I’m curious, readers/bloggers – were you a writer in any way before you started blogging? If not, what are your biggest writing-related challenges?

Where are the Remarkable Bloggers?

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Many of us started blogs to get out of the rat race, but I’m noticing more and more that there’s a blogging rat race all of it’s own. We fall onto this treadmill of needing to post, post, post, post. And it goes beyond writing posts. We fill our hours to the brim with answering emails, tweaking site design, replying to comments, reading posts from other bloggers in our niches, writing guest posts or editing guests post that people have submitted for our own blogs, and on and on and on and on.

But what are you doing, right now, that is truly remarkable?

Yesterday, Nathan Hangen tweeted something that made me extremely sad.

I’m desperate from something new, innovating, or fresh – what’s the most amazing piece of work you’ve seen lately?

Why did it make me sad? Because I honestly couldn’t think of anything to recommend to him off the top of my head. I know people who are running awesome blogs that I enjoy reading, but that’s part of the blogger rat race. I know people who are interesting on Twitter, but that’s part of the blogger rat race. I know people who have amazing ideas, but…well, you get the picture.

What project are you working on that’s going to change the world?

Perhaps that seems a bit intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be a plan to end world hunger or cure cancer. Your remarkable project could be something that starts much smaller, changing the lives of those around you in your niche. But if you create something remarkable, you will start to see that ripple effect.

And this all could start with an awesome blog post or interesting tweets or great ideas. Even the biggest forest fire starts with a single spark. The problem is, few people expand upon those remarkable sparks. If you’ve ever been a scout, like I was, you know – when you build a campfire, you have to baby those first few smoldering wisps of smoke. You nurture the flames until they grow and even though it gets easy, you can’t stop feeding that fire unless you want it to die.

Are you feeding the fire?

It’s easy to watch top names in any industry release products, create new blogs, start membership sites, and so forth, but you have remarkable ideas too. It might take you a little longer to complete, and it might take a little longer for you to see an outpouring of supporters, but if it’s something that you’re passionate about, something that you truly believe in, it’s worth doing. And worth promoting.

Today, I released a product at After Graduation that I think is remarkable. It isn’t relevant for everyone, but it is for writers. BlogWorld encouraged me to take the spark, that product idea that I was throwing around for over a year now, and develop it into not just a few pages of notes, but a real ebook. And I’m going to fan that fire, growing from this product to make more that help people in the freelance industry.

I’d like to invite you to share your remarkable products, ideas, and sparks. I was so sad at Nathan’s tweet not only because I think there’s a lack of remarkable things happening out there, but also because the things that are remarkable? I don’t know about them or realize people are working on them. And that’s partially my fault. I feel like lately I’ve been needing to slow down a bit and support others, rather than just plowing ahead with my own remarkable projects.

So… leave a comment! Tell me what you’re doing right now or planning in the future. Tell me what makes you remarkable. Tell me what you have for sale or for free that is going to change the world, or at least the lives of those in your niche. Or tell me what you’ve seen out there from other people. Link for me (and other readers) all of your glorious remarkable-ness!

When to Accept Guest Posts…and When Not To

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The guest post has become a major part of the world of contemporary blogs, which are rarely written by a single person (and almost never written by a single person if the blog has commercial aspirations). Since blogs can so easily be accused of nearsightedness – featuring only a single writer or a single viewpoint, or obsessing over one thing even within the blog’s more general focus – guest blog posts can prove to be hugely useful under the right circumstances, though it takes careful editing and a good sense of judgment to make sure that the posts you choose to carry actually help your blog.

A good guest post achieves several things at once: it expands your blog’s field of knowledge without going completely outside of your reader base’s interests, it offers potential for audience crossover if your guest blogger has their own pre-established and loyal reader base, and it gives both you and your guest blogger greater exposure.

For example, if you write a blog about music and you think your audience wants to read something about an artist or a genre you’re unfamiliar with, you could have another music blogger who writes on that subject for their blog contribute a guest post. The guest blogger links to you from them, you link to the guest’s main blog (and perhaps provide a guest entry there, too), your audiences cross over, increasing hits, and you potentially get new opportunities to bring up your advertising revenues. Your audience is bigger and better informed and your brand is now more viable than it once was; everyone wins.

However, the key to this model working is simple: your guest posters need to be informative and interesting, able to bring traffic your way, and someone who isn’t going to hurt the image of your blog, either in terms of its brand or its reputation. Irrelevant, uninformative, and uninteresting material will often frustrate and alienate potential readers, which will then do the exact opposite of what a good guest post does. A bad guest post hurts your credibility as much as it the writer hurts themselves; be sure to keep up with your commenters an see what readers think of your guest posters and figure out what is and isn’t working before you give more precious screen space to someone. Do know, though, that the guest post can easily work in your favor, and to take advantage of it.

Andrew Hall is a guest blogger for Guide to Online Schools.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Controversy (@hugmeup)

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With all the BlogWorld Expo work I’ve been doing, I haven’t had time for Overheard on #Blogchat for a few weeks. Glad to be back this week!

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Generating interest in your NEW blog

While at BlogWorld Expo 2010, Chris Garrett and Darren Rowse both mentioned that polarizing topics on your blog can help drive traffic. On tonight’s #blogchat, a similar topic was mentioned.

hugmeup: I’ve noticed that controversial topics gain a lot of interest quickly

Controversy can definitely be good for your traffic. But is it good for your blog? Consider the following:

  • Is the topic going to pit your readers against you?

Chris and Darren talked about polarizing topics, but that’s not necessarily the same as controversy. Polarizing is controversial, but the opposite isn’t always true. If you have a political blog and talk about pro choice versus pro life, that’s a polarizing topic. If you say that you support killing babies, you’re not going to get support from any of your readers – that’s just controversial. It’s not that I think you shouldn’t speak your mind, but if you’re trying to foster community, you don’t want to pit yourself against your audience.

  • Do you know the facts?

If you’re going to get controversial, make sure you have the facts straight. Trust me; on the Internet, if you’re wrong or even incomplete in the information you present, your readers will let you know. And most of them aren’t very nice about it. Cite as many sources as possible and think ahead to the debates you’ll have to face so you’re prepared to defend your position.

  • Are you controversial for controversy’s sake?

Posting something controversial can drive a lot of traffic, but if that’s your sole motivation, you’re not doing anything good for your blog. Believe in what you post. Otherwise, you’re not providing quality to readers, and eventually, they’ll figure out that you’re a fake.

  • Is the topic relevant to readers?

A few months ago, the WordPress/Thesis debate was definitely a controversial topic that many blogs covered, including this one. But did I post about it on the video game blog I manage? Nope. Sure, some of our readers might be interested, but does it make sense to further our blog? Not at all. If you’re really passionate about a controversial topic that doesn’t exactly fit your blog, think about guest posting instead! You’ll still drive some traffic to your site, but you can write something for a more relevant audience.

I’m someone who doesn’t shy away from controversy. Often, what I post here and on my other blogs is in direct conflict of the popular opinion. Do I do it for the traffic? I’d be lying if I said that it doesn’t cross my mind. Strong opinions are usually extremely good for traffic, and that’s definitely something you should take into consideration. Just make sure that your controversial posts have a purpose beyond cheap hits. Otherwise, the traffic spike will be just that – a spike, not sustained traffic.

“Merchandising” – It’s Not Just for Retail Anymore

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At its core, merchandising is about getting people’s attention and enticing them to consume a product, time and time again. Coming from an ecommerce background, merchandising was KING. Where will the product look best? How do you attract the greatest number of eyeballs to that product? What keeps people coming back for more? These were key issues we grappled with every day in our pursuit of building a strong sustainable brand, customer loyalty and consistent cash flow.

Since my transition to new media publishing at Demand Media Studios, I can’t help but notice the striking similarities between the two industries. Where we once merchandised ski boots and laptop bags, we now merchandise information, entertainment and news. The products are different, but the methods are very much the same. Are you effectively merchandising your “product” and maximizing its chances of being discovered, shared and enjoyed? Here are a few points to consider:

Offer Enticing Products:

Whether you’re a blogger, author, filmmaker or industry expert, it’s important to realize that you’re selling a product, and building a valuable brand around that product is entirely in your hands. If you want to stand out and succeed, come to market with the best product you’re capable of delivering and work diligently to build its brand recognition and value. This might mean refreshing your blog with a cleaner more intuitive design, upgrading your camera to finally shoot in HD or attending conferences like Blogworld to build your brand and make your products more recognizable and appealing. Tom Peters’ Fast Company article “The Brand Called You” offers additional insights into the importance of standing out in an increasingly crowded marketplace of information, entertainment and news and is definitely worth a read.

Sell What You Know Best:
Imagine visiting your local baby-goods boutique and upon rounding the aisle, being presented with hanging pork loins, briskets and top rounds. My guess is you’d leave your shopping cart, turn around and never come back. Your audience does the same with your products. Pick a niche in which you’re comfortable, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and film it or write on it well. Straying too far from what you know best will just deteriorate the credibility and appeal of your core offering. Consider what Darren Rowse, Seth Godin, Perez Hilton and Michael Arrington have in common. Besides occupying spots on Forbes Web Celeb lists, they sell what they know best – and they do it very well. Where does your passion and expertise lay? Is that what you’re talking, writing or filming about?

Keep Your Shelves Stocked:
You may be the most brilliant source of information the world has ever seen, but if your knowledge cannot be found, it cannot be enjoyed. In new media publishing, content is marketing so make sure to deliver a steady stream of goods your audience expects from you. Give them a reason to come back for more. To ensure your shelves are stocked with the products your customers actually want, take the time to listen. All the comments, questions, compliments, complaints, requests and suggestions provide invaluable insights into what direction your content should go. Also, consider reaching beyond your site to attract new audiences to your site. Here are just some of the ways you can distribute your products so people can sample them before becoming loyal repeat customers: Youtube Rentals, Demand Media Talent & Experts Network, Etsy Crafts and Topspin.

To learn more about building your brand, expanding the distribution of your work and increasing your paycheck, make sure to attend the How to Turn Your Blogging Hobby into a Full-Time Job panel at Blogworld 2010 featuring Chris Garrett (chrisg.com), Stewart Marlborough (Demand Media Studios), Zem Joaquin (Eco-Fabulous) and Michael Sippey (Six Apart).

And pay us a visit at booth No. 115 to learn how Demand Media Studios can help you and your content get discovered.

Yury Polnar
Marketing Acquisitions Manager
Demand Media Studios

twitter.com/ypolnar
demandstudios.com/blog

Do your Readers Care about Your Content?

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Photo-A-Day #1000!BlogWorld 2010 Speaker: Andrew Bennett
Content You Care About
Room: Islander G
Friday October 15, 2010

Time: 2:45PM to 3:45PM

When I visit a blog I am almost always immediately drawn to any multimedia content that is on the blog. I’m a fan of bloggers who create not only photo content, video content but also audio content. There are a ton of tools online that you can use to to put your content online. There are also a ton of tools that you can use offline to create this sort of content.

The main thing for me is that your content be your own. Sure you can pull photos and videos from Flickr or Youtube that are legitimate to use through creative commons. I even put creative commons on my photos so that other people can use them if they wanted to. I make my Photo-A-Day available on my blog so that anyone can grab the code and post it on their blog and the new photo gets automatically served each day. The content is mine and I’m free to distribute as I wish.

Creating my own multimedia content is very important to me. I have been taking and posting photos on my blog every single day for 5 straight years. People sort of marvel at that commitment and I wonder why. To me, taking photos is a natural extension of who I am as a person. This endeavor started as a challenge to myself to take photos and document a year in my life. I turned 31 and started my journey. When I turned 32 I was completely hooked on taking a daily photo so one year turned into five. Just the other day I passed 2000 straight days of posting photos and blogging about them.

Content that you create is also a powerful way to let your readers get to know who you are and what you stand for. When I do video reviews I often do them in one take where I do not write anything ahead of time because I want the reader to see my authentic reactions to what I am reviewing. Being unpolished, especially when talking authentically is a powerful thing and people can spot a liar.

The latest thing that I have gotten into is creating audio content in the form of a podcast. I am a co-host of Geek Dads Weekly and through that I can pop on a pair of headphones, fire up Skype and audacity and record to my heart’s content. There isn’t anything tremendously fancy needed to get started making your own multimedia content. My session will help you get started in the world of Audio, Video and Photo content creation.

If you are interested in learning what sort of tools are available to you to create your own podcast, videos series and photos then you should attend my session: Content You Care About on Friday at 2:45pm. Not only will I talk about websites for hosting photos, audio and video but I’ll also have some prizes to give away to people who attend. BlogWorld sponsor Kodak has graciously given me a camera and an all new PlayTouch video camera to give away. I’ll also have other prizes from my personal stash of great gadgets.

Andrew Bennett has been blogging for the past seven years. During that time he’s taken over 1800+ photos on as many consecutive days and has attended every Blog World so far. When he’s not on Twitter (@BenSpark) he can be found at http://www.benspark.com or http://imnotafamousblogger.com. You can contact him at benspark@benspark.com.

Overheard on #Blogchat: Wordcount (@gallaghermeg)

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Yep, I’m a day late with Overheard on #Blogchat this week. I was at an 80s-themed bachelorette party, so I had a good reason!

Do you participate in #blogchat? Every week, this weekly discussion on Twitter focuses on a specific topic and bloggers everywhere are invited to join in. Because I often have more to say than what will fit in 140 characters, every Sunday night, I post about some of the most interesting #blogchat tweets. Join the conversation by commenting below.

(Still confused? Read more about #blogchat here.)

This week’s theme: Open mic!

My friends all make fun of me because my emails are usually super long. I’m a wordy person, mostly because I like to explain myself clearly so as not to cause too many questions. Because I’m rarely brief, this #blogchat comment caught my eye:

@gallaghermeg: is there word count that you try to keep your blog posts limited to? I worry that too long = less reading.

I worry about that too at times. My posts are typically long, often times between 700 – 900 words and rarely less than 500 words here at the BlogWorld blog. On After Graduation and Binge Gamer, I’m also not the briefest person in the world. Could that actually be causing me to lose readers? And, if so, why the heck am I still posting uber-long blog posts?

First, I would like to note that yes, I think that long blog posts can deter readers. It depends on a number of factors:

  • Does your target audience have time to read a long post?
  • Is the post well organized with headings?
  • Is it necessary for all the info to be in one post, or could it have been split into multiple posts?
  • Do you use pictures to break up the text?
  • Do you use short paragraphs, blockquotes, bullet points, numbered lists, etc. to break up the text?
  • Are there shorts posts on your blog too, or do you only write long posts?
  • How often do you update your blog?

If you post walls of text, you’ll drive readers away no matter what your demographic. It’s about formatting as much as it is about wordcount.

It’s also about saying what you have to say as concisely as possible. Whenever I hit 800 words or more, I reread the entire thing with an eye on every sentence. Do I really need that sentence to convey my point? Self-editing is never more important than when you’re writing a long post.

Remember, every niche is different, and beyond that, every blogger is different. If longer posts work for your style and readership, there’s no reason you have to stop writing. Good content will drive readers, even if you’re long-winded like I am.

What do you think – do long posts scare off readers? How long is your average post?

The Lyrics Don’t Always have to Make Sense

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Usually, celebrity deaths don’t really get to me. Sure, they can be tragic or even a little sad, but I’ve never been someone who’s felt a strong connection to specific celebrities. Well, except Freddie Mercury. I still sometimes cry because he’s dead. Yes, my roommate thinks I’m nuts, considering that he died when I was still to young to even know who Queen was.

But I digress. Yesterday, I was overwhelmingly sad to find out the singer-songwriter frontman of LFO, Rich Cronin, lost his battle with acute myelogenous leukemia. LFO has some success in the 90s, but they certainly weren’t a power boy band like N*Sync or the Backstreet Boys. I was sad because some of my favorite memories hanging out with my best friend at that point in my life involves singing and dancing to their most popular song, “Summer Girls.”

Yes, I know all the words to “Summer Girls.” All the…horribly weird lyrics. If you listened to the radio at all in the late 90s, I’m sure you heard this song at some point. But did you realize that, as catchy as it is, the lyrics are downright ridiculous? Let me recap some of my favorite lines:

You’re the best girl that I ever did see
The great Larry Bird Jersey 33
When you take a sip you buzz like a hornet
Billy Shakespeare wrote a whole bunch of sonnets

Um. What?

Oh it gets better:

There was a good man named Paul Revere
I feel much better baby when you’re near

Paul Revere? Really? Really?

Yet, this song was all over the radio. In fact, this song made it as high as #3 on the charts, was named on Billboard magazine’s list of top summertime songs of all time, and was certified Platinum by the RIAA. Those are some hefty achievement for a song that has incredibly bad lyrics.

Earlier today, I posted about the need to challenge yourself to be a better blogger. It isn’t ok to write posts that are mediocre, with the mindset that, “eh, they’re good enough.”

But at the same time, the lyrics don’t always have to make sense.

“Summer Girls” wasn’t a success because it had a life-changing message. It was a success because it was catchy. It was a success because it fit the overall cultural mood of that summer. It was a success because people like me associate it with good times with their friends. “Summer Girls” wasn’t a song that LFO released because it was “meh, good enough.” It was a song that fit their style, what they wanted to convey with their music. I know a lot of people make fun of silly pop music, but say to anyone, “You look like a girl from Abercrombie and Fitch,” and they’ll probably get the reference.

I do want you to challenge yourself, but at the same time, you don’t need a life-changing message with every post. If the lyrics don’t make sense, that’s ok – as long as you have something that’s catchy and fits your style. Don’t get too caught up in writing a prize-winning post every day. Don’t get so paralyzed with trying to be perfect that it takes you weeks to write a post.

It’s a fine line, to challenge yourself and also realize that not everything you write is a 10 out of 10. Look for the sweet spot between complacency and perfection. If all else fails, repeat after me:

“There was a good man named Paul Revere.”

RIP, Rich Cronin. May your afterlife be filled with fun dip, cherry coke, and girls who laugh when you tell a joke.

Is Your Blog Content Compelling?

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A perennial complaint from bloggers is that they don’t know what to write about. But is that really the case? I think the challenge is less about finding something to say and more about finding interesting ways to present their ideas in a blog format.

Options abound, but to deliver content in ways that will engage your audience, it’s important to think not only as a writer but also like an editor. If your blog is writing-centric, consider this: while the style and clarity of your writing matters, the way in which your ideas are presented is equally important in gaining readers or in wowing your current audience.

Here are 3 ways you can produce compelling content on your blog (plus a word on archives):

1. Create Post Types. It’s easy to get into a rut and think that every blog post has to be similar. To vary your content, create several different post types that fit with the topic of your blog. For example, a “News Roundup” post can be used to share 4-5 links to timely and interesting articles in your area of interest. For each link, provide the author name, publication, and a short summary. Or you might want to have “Ask the Experts,” in which you allow experts to offer competing opinions on an important topic. To help your readers get acclimated, put together one post that defines your several post types and make it sticky somewhere on the front page sidebar.

As you develop new post types, be sure to consider the timing of the post; you might want to post a “News Roundup” on Friday, to summarize the previous week’s news. But you don’t necessarily want to use it every week, unless you have enough other weekly content to offset it. “Ask the Experts” should probably be used even less often, but will likely generate significant attention for your blog because it will help your readers get a grasp of more complex subjects. Both of these types of posts have the added benefit of enhancing your blog’s reputation as informative and useful. So don’t be afraid to experiment!

2. Peg Your Post to the News. Inspired by an article you’ve read? Angered by a news report? Act as a commentator on the news. Use a bookmarklet like Press This (if you use WordPress) or something similar to highlight content from other sources and then add your original thoughts and ideas to the post. As a general rule, highlighting more than a paragraph or so is excessive—better to quote briefly and comment extensively. Remember, this kind of post doesn’t have to be especially lengthy (though it can be). You can toss out a one-liner sort of commentary or write up a few hundred words, or more if you’d like.

For this sort of post, you’ll need to stay abreast of trends in your subject matter. Sites like Google Trends can help you find out what’s hot in Google Search; if there’s a topic that fits with your blog, you can develop a timely post on the issue or else track the trend. You can also stay up-to-date on current events in your field by using Google Alerts to notify when articles or blog posts with keywords you’ve chosen appear on the web. The upshot: you’ll be well informed about current events in your area of interest and so will your readers.

3. Say It With a Slideshow. Many bloggers use jQuery slideshow plug-ins to highlight specific content on their sites. But slideshows can actually be the content for a post with the addition of some additional commentary. Whether you want to highlight several gadgets, top women leaders, or great vacation hotels, using photos is a great way to tell a story—TheDailyBeast does this really well. Your best best: find a slideshow plug-in that has an area for commentary (preferably on the left or right side of the image), and a visible navigation button so that readers will know exactly how to advance the slides. Images are always popular with readers and slideshows make for excellent evergreen content which you can repurpose or promote year-round.

One caveat: don’t forget to get relevant permissions for the photos that you use in the slideshow, especially for photos of celebrities, which may be restricted. For more generic photos, use stock photography (select photos that have the model’s release), or try open photography sites, like Flickr. If you go this route, remember to confirm the photographer’s attribution and use requirements before using anything you download. Helpful hint: if you have a photo you like, and can’t remember where you found it, this site can help you identify the author (for Flickr only).

Finally, a Word on Archives. What do you think when you see a blog archive with five or six years worth or blog posts? My guess is that you’re more inclined to take that person seriously because they have demonstrated a level of commitment to blogging. So why do so many bloggers neglect to setup a user-friendly archive page on their site? Not just a listing of archives in the sidebar (let’s face it: looking at years in calendar form isn’t exactly inviting), but a more user-friendly page that includes fun categories like “Best Of”, “Most Controversial”, or “Mea Culpa.” Anil Dash has done this to great effect on his blog, which has well over 10 years of content. If you have more than a year or two’s worth of content, this is a great way to generate interest in some of your older content. After all, as the not-so-old saying goes, good content never goes out of style.

Jessica Faye Carter is the CEO of Nette Media and a frequent speaker on women, culture, and social media. She blogs on her own site and at Technicultr.

Image Credit: iStockPhoto

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