The idea of beginning and then maintaining a well-written blog is daunting. Perhaps because you feel like there’s nothing to write about. Or you feel your small business doesn’t really need a blog. (Sorry to burst your bubble, it does.)
But the huge roadblock that faces many a newbie blogger is the massive investment in learning the blogging software, learning the ins and outs of promoting the blog, and then building a content engine so that your posts come like clockwork, and you have a system in place that can sustain the publishing schedule.
What I’ve written below are 5 concrete strategies to get your blog going, assuming you already know the software and are struggling to create a rhythm of write > publish > promote. This is an expanded version of a Quora answer I submitted regarding creating a well-written blog.
Five Concrete Strategies for Creating a Well-Written Blog
1. Figure Out a Niche, a Direction, a General Theme:
Even if it’s a personal blog, have a category you fit under. And concretize that category into a quirky phrase — a tagline — which you can use to easily describe your blog and your blog’s voice.
Is your blog about “family and relationships” or “geeky/techy things I love” or “cute crafts I make with unicorn designs?” If you’re running a business, are you an “ubercool Silicon Valley software development firm,” a “charming mom-and-pop grocery” or a “juggernaut multinational do-everything enterprise?”
If you’re thinking this sounds like product marketing, it is. Your blog is a channel for proclaiming your trustworthiness on the topics you write about. And part of productizing it is encapsulating its character in a tagline.
But the other objective of such laserlike focus is that it gives you a concrete arena in which to brainstorm topics. Defining the topics you will blog about will help you when it’s time to brainstorm for the editorial calendar (which is Step 2).
1b. Or Do the Opposite and Make it a Portal:
Though if finding a single niche for your blog seems way too limiting for you, go the opposite route and make it an all-in-one portal to every aspect of your life/business with multiple categories for each interest and every topic under the sun that you’re passionate about. For personal blogs, have categories like: entertainment, crafts, family, photography, poetry, etc. For business blogs, take a cue from multinational corporations and look at the massive menus on their websites.
2. Create an Editorial Calendar:
What isn’t scheduled, doesn’t get done. Plan out your publishing cadence, and ink it onto your calendar. Will you post daily, weekly, monthly? (Please not monthly. No one will keep coming back to check out your content.)
Grab a calendar template online such as this one for Excel, or if you’re on a self-hosted WordPress blog, install the WordPress plugin called Editorial Calendar. Or simply use an online calendar tool like Google Calendar and map out your next series of post ideas.
3. Create a Writing Time:
Plan out your writing time. When do you intend to do most of your blog writing? At night when everyone’s asleep, or during lunch breaks while on your mobile device? During the commute to work? Block it out on your daily calendar. And stay faithful to a set time if you find yourself productive in that period.
4. Jot Down Blog Topics on a Tickler, Every Day:
Have a pen and notebook handy everywhere you go. Doesn’t have to be an expensive Moleskine (that some people swear by), it can be a cheap version from Walmart, or alternatively, it can be a set of 3X5 index cards. Whatever works. Or use a mobile app such as Wrike (the company I work for) to jot down every unique idea that comes to you wherever you may be.
The idea is to keep this list of blog topics fresh. Every free minute you get, add some new idea so your well is never dry. Then plan out when you want these topics published on the Editorial Calendar of step 2.
5. Allow Some Topics to Incubate:
One way to ensure a well-written blog is this: don’t post immediately after brainstorming a topic. Allow the topic to sit with you for a while. Marinate in the various ways the post could go. Accumulate research that could make the post more useful or more entertaining. Being well-written typically equates to being well-thought-out (at least in my own experience) and giving a topic some time before publishing it makes it better.
Any tips you feel are missing? Hit the comments and teach me your kung-fu!
Image Credits: Blogging woman, courtesy of Mike Licht on Flickr.