I’d like to share some of the lessons I’ve learned from a year of posting on Dan’s Personal Branding blog.
A little over a year ago, on August 5, 2009, I posted my first post, the 11 Biggest Mistakes Made by First-Time Authors.
My goal in sharing the following is to encourage you to post more frequently on your blog and to look beyond your own blog and consider posting as a guest on other blogs in your field.
What I’ve learned (or, re-learned)
- Deadlines and writing rituals. The biggest lesson I learned was to create a ritual based on weekend writing to meet a fixed weekly deadline. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you have a deadline. Because I had an inflexible deadline each Sunday night, (11:57 PM EST), I had no trouble committing the time – or, more honestly – making the time, to meet each week’s deadline. Having a firm deadline forced me to create a Saturday noontime ritual of writing the first draft of next week’s blog, followed by tweaking and self-editing each post early Sunday evening.
Takeaway #1: Create a writing ritual based on an inflexible weekly deadline. Your deadlines and rituals will create habits that make it easy to be on-time and consistent.
- Create drafts before publishing. One of the most important commands found in today’s blogging software is the Save Draft command. By creating drafts ahead of time, you can start blog posts whenever good ideas occur to you, and publish them later. You can write as much, or as little, as desired, and you can add artwork. When deadlines sneak up on you, and you don’t know what to write about, it’s nice to open WordPress and have a choice of several ideas just waiting to be completed. Equally important, you can review your posts from a fresh perspective after writing them.
Takeaway #2: Never post the day you write. Write the first draft, then reread it the next morning before posting it. It’s amazing the number of mistakes you’ll find, and number of new ideas that show up the second day.
- Write from a series point of view. Instead of viewing blog posts as self-contained entities, consider writing a series of blog posts based on a single theme, topic, or idea. Blog posts that are part of a series, such as my 7 Habits of the Successful Published, are far easier to write than 7 individual posts. Plus, as the series unfolds, each post builds reader anticipation for the next installment. The series approach also makes it easier to create e-books and reports based on your blog posts.
Takeaway #3: Look for topics you can approach as a series of blog posts.
Back-up your blog posts as you create them. If you are using a blogging software program to create your blog posts, immediately copy, paste, and save, each blog post onto your hard drive using your word processing software program. I have a friend who lost 6 months worth of great blog posts to a server crash that took the host’s back-up files with it! It doesn’t happen often, but, why take a chance? Make sure each blog post is saved as an individual file, and keep them together in a single folder. Having all posts saved in a single location also makes them easier to recycle, re-purpose, and reformat.
Takeaway #4: Create your own blog archives and back-up your own archives.
- Create a formula for preparing blog posts. Rather than trying to be “creative” each time I sit down to write, I use shortcuts such as a title and content formula. For example, I often start with titles that begin with a number plus a category, such as Essentials, Ideas, Keys, Strategies or Tips that address a reader goal, problem, or task. The first paragraph describes the relevance of the of the goal, problem, or task. This is often followed by a numbered list and, finally, a summary or call to action.
Takeaway #5: Save time by creating a content formula for blog posts.
- Continue, even if you don’t like the way it’s turning out. Often, I don’t like the way the first draft is turning out, and I’m tempted to escape to a local coffee shop, bookstore, or swimming pool. However, with the Sunday deadline looming, and the way that computer and Internet hassles can occur at any minute, I persevere until the first draft is, at least, fleshed out. When I’m finished, and reread what I’m done, or check-back later Saturday, I’m often pleased to find that what I wrote isn’t as awkward as I originally felt.
Takeaway #6: Never pre-judge the quality of the first draft. Remember: it’s impossible to edit, and improve, a first draft that hasn’t been written! By giving yourself an opportunity to review your work the next day, (see Takeaway #2), you’ll always have an opportunity to both improve what you’ve written and still meet your deadline.
- Track what others say about each post. Devise a simple way to track reader comments, trackbacks, and Twitter ReTweets. Create a spreadsheet or table using your word processing software program and enter the number of reactions generated by each blog post. Set up your spreadsheet or table so you can sort on the number of reactions associated with each post title. You’ll be able to see at a glance which topics your readers are most interested in.
Takeaway #7: Create a tracking system so you can identify, revisit, and expand, the topics your market is most interested in, while downplaying topics that generate few reader comments or ReTweets.
Everything the experts say is true
More and more, I appreciate the lessons of my mentors, such as Don Murray, who would stress, over and over again, You learn to write by writing.
Or, as he would often put it:
The First Rule of writing is to apply rear end to chair.
(Only, of course, he would’t say “rear end.”)
According to WordPress, I’ve added 910 posts to my 5-day a week Published & Profitable Writer’s Tip Blog. You’d think by now, I’d have the system down pat! However, as I look back, I think I’ve learned as much from my 53 blog posts for Dan’s blog as I’ve done from my other blogs. With weekly, rather than daily, deadlines, I’ve been able to try out a different style of writing, as well as learn from the other great contributors to this blog. Thank you, Dan and Maria Elena Duron, for the great opportunity you’ve offered me – and other contributors!
I encourage everyone to develop their own deadlines, rituals, formulas, and systems to blog more frequently on their blog, as well as explore guest blogging opportunities everywhere.
Roger C. Parker shares ideas for planning, writing, promoting, & profiting from brand building books in his daily writing tips blog. His latest book, #BOOK TITLE Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, & Event Titles, offers step-by-step ideas and examples plus easy-to-use tips.