I think there should be a notice when setting up a new blog:
“Blogging is not easy. You may experience unexpected droughts of inspiration, difficultly maintaining a schedule, or succumb to the pressures of always needing fresh content.”
Understandably, awash with the desire to share their great ideas and unique perspective with the world, most people would ignore this warning.
But maybe it would seep its way into the subconscious. Maybe, a few months later as they were staring at a blank page trying to come up with something witty or informative to write, it would come back to them.
Told you so.
As any expert on web publishing will tell you, the single most important thing you have to do to build a new blog is to post regular content. That’s it. And most people fail miserably at this.
So here are five ways to do just that
1. Decide on a realistic posting frequency
For me this is every single day, without exception. For you, it may be every other day or twice a week. Whatever you decide on, announce it to your readers on your blog.
Announcing it accomplishes two things.
One, you’re creating and managing your reader’s expectations of when new content will be posted.
Two, you’re making yourself accountable to your readership. It’s harder to blow off posting when you know there’s a bunch of people out there who are expecting to see something new on a given day.
2. Accept that there will be days when you don’t have time to update your blog, or you just won’t feel like it. Then prepare for it.
Most blogging systems have an option to schedule posts in advance. Take advantage of it.
Work with your natural cycles of productivity and write some extra posts when you’re in the mood. Schedule them to post automatically on the days you know you’re going to be busy, or just keep them “unpublished” for the days when you aren’t motivated to write something new.
Generally, I follow this rule of thumb to generate a weeks worth of posts ahead of time and schedule them out, one per day. Then I can forget about posting for a while.
You’d also be surprised how much content you can find and want to share once you’ve already fulfilled your “quota”.
3. Always keep your eyes out for new content and have a way to capture it.
It’s easy to miss opportunities for new content if you’re not looking for them or if you’re not prepared to record and save them for when you’re ready.
You’d be surprised how many times I’ll be surfing another website or reading a blog (many times on totally unrelated topics) and find something relevant to my own site.
Get in the habit of having online and offline means to capture information that will be useful later to your site.
4. Find something small that you can easily cover on a daily/weekly basis.
Need some ideas to get started?
- If your blog covers art/design: every day, link to a different image that has inspired you for some reason. Include a short bio of the artist, a link to their website, and some examples of their work.
- If your blog covers technology: find an interesting news story and write an opinion piece on it.
- If your blog covers your life: post something funny/interesting/crazy that you overhear from friends or strangers.
- If your blog covers music: recommend a new song each day and compare it to something people will have heard before.
5. Encourage readers to contact you.
One of the best things about blogging as a publishing medium is the ease in which people can respond to what you write. Writing becomes less a practice of lecturing and more an invitation to start a dialogue. And you never know where that dialogue could lead.
Include a contact form someplace visible on your blog and encourage feedback, rants, and submissions from your visitors. Also encourage users to post comments, and make sure you respond to them, especially in the beginning. Same goes for the emails.
I know, you’re wondering how user feedback will help you maintain your blog. There’s two simple reasons:
- Readers are sometimes the best sources of new content; and
- Knowing there’s a real live person behind a blog develops loyalty and relationships.
Thing is, they’re passionate enough about whatever you’re writing about to be reading your blog. Solicit their input and you may be surprised to find your readers linking you to relevant content, sharing experiences that you can write about, or just letting you know that the last article you wrote was awesome.
You’d be surprised how much that kind of response helps motivate you.
At the beginning of this article, I said blogging wasn’t easy. And now that we’re at the end of the article… blogging still isn’t easy.
The suggestions here aren’t by any means a cure-all to the struggles that come from trying to produce content on a regular basis, but through a combination of preparation, structure, and the encouraging feedback of awesome readers, these guidelines can make blogging easier and a lot more fun for you.