100 blog posts, or how to write and write again

Knowing like I know that there are plenty of bloggers out there who publish daily and/or have been longer at it and who must be so far beyond their 100th blog post they can’t even see it with a telescope on a clear day, still I can’t keep from wondering how I made it this far.

Too many ideas to write about…

100 blog posts ContentRamblerAt first I only published once a week. But I sat down to blog every single night, just to build a routine. I had so many ideas they wouldn’t fit into one post, I’d add and edit until I had several topics jumbled up into one blog post. That’s when I wrote How to add focus to every post ūüėČ

Publishing twice a week worked for a while. I would have loved to publish more often but felt I would never get away from my blog if I went down that road.

…or too few

Continue reading

Blogging impressions: when is a blog post ready?

A while ago I decided two blog posts per week was too much while I was getting used to my new job. Now, I’m not so sure.

Blogging on and off

Publishing just one post per week just doesn’t feel right. Especially because it allows me to not log on and write every single night. On the other hand, I needed some evenings off blogging. I still do.

When should you blog? And when is a blog post ready for publishing?

What do you reckon: should I blog – or spend time with you guys?
[Image: HikingArtist.com via Flickr]

A curious side effect of not sitting down to write every day is that I’m suddenly faced with a decision I need to make every day: do I sit down to write today – or will I wait until tomorrow?

Blogging should be your daily routine – not a daily decision

This is exactly why I turned blogging into a daily routine from the start. You don’t want that kind of discussion with yourself:

  1. It takes up time you could spend blogging
  2. It costs energy better spent on blogging (because then you’ll have a tangible result to show for your effort)
  3. Chances are you’ll end up saying something to your other half – or to your kid(s) and they’ll say: “well, then, don’t blog if you don’t feel like it.” How much¬†will you feel like blogging after that type of encouragement?

Enough said.

I’m going to publish two posts per week again – whenever I manage to do so. If I don’t I’ll publish one post on Monday. I’m not yet sure if the other one should be on Thursday or Friday – what do you think is a good day for posting?

Whether I’ll be able to produce a quality blog post every time I have yet to find out. And there’s just one way to find out. Stop whining. Start blogging.

When is a blog post ready?

That’s my main reason for wondering if I’ll be able to publish twice a week. I’ve often felt uncertain about just writing and hitting ‘Publish’.¬†But editing can lead to overediting – and take up way too much time.

So I’m going to be hard on myself and just publish this. After I get a picture somewhere that suits this blog post – and possibly my sense of humor.

And finally a reading tip for you that is similar to one of my earlier posts – only this one is from Weblogbetter.com: Why do you blog anyway? Enjoy!

Happy blogging anniversary – and a new summer task

While I was writing this blog post I noticed a notification reminding me of my blogs first anniversary:

Blogging for a year: Happy Anniversary With WordPress

It’s been an interesting year that started with wanting to write.

Blogging leads to all kinds of things

In some ways, not much happened. I didn’t get 2000 hits within my first week of blogging. But for someone who just wants to write that kind of stuff misses the point by several lightyears. Continue reading

Creating a strong password you’ll remember

Passwords. Everybody needs them, but only few of us like them.¬†A password will guard your online belongings when you’re out so nobody will come in to burn your frying pans, empty the fridge, swim in your pool,¬†and invite all their friends over to the party they’re planning in your garden. But¬†having to make one up and remember it is¬†as much fun as¬†remembering to¬†lock your front door.

How do you create a strong password – and remember it?

Don't lose sleep over your password Image: HikingArtist.com

Don’t lose sleep over your password
Image: HikingArtist.com

While I’m hoping everybody got themselves a decent password after hacks into LinkedIn and Twitter a while ago, you may not have mustered the courage to come up with a really strong password.

Or you did, and ended up forgetting your brand new password within days.

Wouldn’t life be much easier if we were able to memorize any nonsensical, unpronouncable, completely random password – and to remember which password went with which account? Continue reading

Blogging impressions: easy summer tasks for your blog

Summer has finally hit the shores of the Netherlands and elsewhere too I dare say. Like I announced earlier I’ve changed my posting routine to once a week at least for now.

Summer tasks for your blog

Great summer image by Christine Majul. Click to view on Flickr.

To make sure I don’t end up neglecting my blog over the summer, I’ve thought of a couple of easy tasks that’ll make any blog better than it already is. Are you ready?

‘Summer up’ your old blog posts

Check for old posts that you wrote in a hurry. Think of topics that might have turned into a great post but didn’t quite make it because you were tired or stressed out. Open the curtains and let the sun shine into those old winterdepressed writings. See if which of your old ideas, posts and drafts alike, deserve some high summer TLC from you and start editing, rewriting, and (re-)publishing.

If you post one new blog post once a week, update another post every week or so.

Replace sub-par images with quality images

This is definitely an issue for some of my posts and I think it is the nicest way to update old posts. There must’ve been times when you just didn’t have time or energy to look for the best possible images. Change images you added which you don’t like anymore – images that don’t fit in with the rest of your blog. I can’t think of a nicer way to improve your blog than looking for really cool pictures that’ll make your (old) posts look 10 times better. Look for great images¬†to grace¬†your future posts while you’re at it.

This also means tagging the new images. Focusing on just the images on your blog for a change¬†means you can ‘SEO’ your images as much as you like by adding keywords from your text to the alternative text box (Alt tag stuff), description, and title. This is what turns an image into visual content, apart from its contribution to your written content.

Check your stats for blogging inspiration

What topics and posts have been really popular? Do your popular posts stand out in particular ways, like quality of images, truly inspired writing, or seasonal flavor?

Have people found you through search – if so, what were they looking for?

Blog improvement tasks in summer

The important thing is to remember it’s summer. Don’t beat yourself up if you find you could have done a better job for some posts. Summer is a great time for good intentions. Start by taking a relaxed view of your blog posts – then take them out for a brisk run in the summer breeze.

Blogging impressions: how to get to the point

How much did you write when you started blogging?

When I started blogging¬†I wrote with no aim in mind except that of writing. Because I¬†simply had to write. Needless to say my posts were long, not to say rambling… One of my first ‘Blogging impressions’ posts was about getting a sense of focus into a blog post, for good reason ūüôā

Writing along or getting to the point

The prescribed treatment¬†helps¬†if you’ve¬†written a blog post and you’re wondering if you could have made it shorter than 1000 words… and whether you should make any alterations, and how. Continue reading

Blogging impressions: your blog as an online portfolio

Apart from if you’re actually a professional blogger, what’s the use of having a blog?

Why would you want to blog at all?

What is in your blogging portfolio?

Portfolio cover of color plates by Charles S. Graham. Field Museum Library

  • Because you enjoy writing (or making videos, in case you’re into video blogging).
  • Because you don’t mind (or love) the attention.
  • Because you don’t mind the kind of work involved: writing, getting or creating pictures or videos, making sure your content is properly tagged so people who don’t know you will still find you by searching for the topics that are on your blog.
  • Because you need a portfolio. You need to create content for whatever purpose.

Even if you don’t start blogging for that purpose, posting fresh content on your blog will eventually build a portfolio of your content. What would you like to do with it?

Why would you want an online portfolio, and of what?

What goes into your portfolio – that is, onto your blog – shows a couple of things about you as a blogger which may be of interest to a potential client or employer:

  1. That you can write – in a language of your choice. (In my case I might have written in Dutch, but I chose English instead).
  2. That you’re able to¬†create content¬†to a schedule. That may mean posting daily, but it doesn’t have to be that intense. Once a week can be enough. Keeping it up for any length of time and consistently producing good or at least acceptable (although you should aim higher)¬†content costs time and energy. Can you keep it up and still enjoy blogging?
  3. That you’re able to build a community around your blog. You may do so on your blog, or off – I know people who have little interaction on their blog, but much more on Facebook. In my case, readers react on my blog, on Twitter, or on LinkedIn.

Your blogging portfolio as a (first?) step in your career

A potential employer or client may be interested in one aspect of your blogging efforts or all:

  • content creation as a creative process
  • regular content production
  • community management on or off your blog

And of course depending on what you blog about, they’ll get some idea of you as an expert on one or more topics – and as a person.

What kind of portfolio is your blog turning into Рand could it support your chosen career?

Blogging impressions: using images on your blog

It’s been a while since I wrote a ‘Blogging Impressions’ post. Here goes.

You may have noticed I’m a writing blogger… Even so, I like to have an¬†image with every post¬†on my blog.

Blogging Images for your blog

Pros of images on your blog

  1. It’s good for SEO (search engine optimization). Provided you add key words in the ‘alt’ (alternative text) box.
  2. It adds interest.
  3. You may even add your personal twist through the description.

Cons

  1. It takes time to find the right picture(s), unless it’s part of your daily activities anyway, and in business topics, to come up with an original picture which you can still use in a sensible way to enhance your post. Is anyone fed up with pictures of keyboards with a key saying anything from “Sell” to “Engage” yet?
  2. Time. To upload. To fill all the ‘metadata’. To add a description that bridges the gap between text and image in a meaningful way.
  3. Did I mention ‘time’? I’m a bit short right now ūüėČ

Ways to find the right images for your blog

So far I’ve tried several approaches for images (call it “visual content”) on my blog:

  • Making them myself using PowerPoint. The results vary enormously depending on the time I have left when I decide to make an image rather than looking for one.
  • Taking pictures. I’m still learning when it comes to producing my own visual content in any form: whether it’s a cartoon, or a photograph. I keep practising though, but on my last holiday I completely forgot the camera I got last Christmas. The photograph I’ve added is one I made using an iPhone (4, in case you wondered). I halved its size before adding it to my blog.
  • Looking for them on Flickr – either in the “Creative Commons” section or by adding “Creative commons” to my search terms.
  • Looking for them on Flickr, specifically in the photos added by fellow blogger HikingArtist.com – perfect for blogs dealing with business¬†or nature.

How do you get the right images for whatever content you want to share on your blog?

Blogging impressions: tips to make guest blogging work for you

Since August last year I’ve written “Blogging impressions” posts regularly to keep track of my progress in blogging. I regularly share tips on how to overcome issues many bloggers must run into.

Today my first guest post was published. For that reason this post is about (first time) guest blogging.

Why it’s important to guest blog

Guest Blogging (summer visitor, picture from last year)

I’m not going to give you “get a bigger audience through guest blogging” talk. Plenty of blogs will tell you that,¬†and then they’ll¬†try to sell you their e-books for ‘free’ after which they spam you with 400 Dollar webinars until you unsubscribe or block them to keep them from clogging up your mailbox.

Guest blogging is important as a¬†learning method: it offers you a new writing experience. You get to write for an audience you’re not familiar with, so you only have the blog owner’s advice to go on – that and having a quick look at previous posts, and possibly comments from readers.

For that reason I view guest blogging as a thinking exercise. You’ll consider how you’ll gently tweak your blogging habits to suit the¬†audience you’re writing for. In my case, I’d started tweaking before I guest blogged.

Don’ts in guest blogging

  • Don’t even consider writing a sloppy guest post. If you’re lucky you’ll get turned down. If you’re not so lucky, you’ll¬†get published and a lot of potential readers will have a chance to enjoy poor¬†writing or a post with an unfinished feel to it.
  • Don’t write 5 times better than you would on your own blog. If you can’t put in enough time to produce good posts, anyone who finds your excellent guest post¬†and then visits your blog will turn away disappointed.

Tips to make (first-time) guest blogging work

  1. Find a blog to guest post on that is as similar in style and/or topics to your own as possible.
  2. Make sure you meet the blog owner’s criteria: word count, picture, the lot.
  3. Make sure you meet your own criteria for publishing before you submit your guest blog. If you’re not sure if your post is good enough, consider drafting and previewing it on your own blog. If you have doubts about publishing it on your own territory, don’t submit it yet.

Whatever else you do, try to match your own blog’s best posts.

Why guest blogging isn’t a must-do for everyone

If you’re happy on your own blog and¬†you have¬†enough readers to keep you blogging along, that’s fine. It may take you longer to assemble a crowd of readers – but then again, it may not, if you’re able to connect with casual visitors. Which happens a lot on ‘private’ blogs because there’s so much we recognize in each others’ lives.

Getting a personal connection by talking about businessy topics¬†is harder, and tends to happen (at first?) when¬†you blog¬†about something you feel strongly about. You’re only human – people get that.

What are your thoughts on Рor experiences and tips from Рguest blogging?

Blogging impressions: this is when you stop talking about yourself

A while ago I blogged about the difference between a journal and a blog. This post centers around the question when you¬†should or shouldn’t¬†blog about yourself.

An offline journal is usually written by you, about you and your latest experiences, and for you – and maybe a few others. Old ship’s journals or logs are like that. “Sailed 14¬†hours straight today, ended up¬†at a new undiscovered patch of ocean in the middle of nowhere, possibly near¬†India.”

Image by Dennis Skley [Flickr]

Easter eggs image by Dennis Skley [Flickr]

In the online version, a lot of readers can read along and enjoy your jokes or sympathize with you on a bad hair day.

Blogging, like I wrote in my earlier post, means you focus on your readers. Ideally you start a conversation¬†with your readers. So how much can you talk about you on your blog – and when should you stop? What are definite don’ts?

Private blog: when do you stop blogging about yourself?

Hey, I’m not telling you what you can’t do in a general sense. It’s your private blog or possibly journal, not mine. However:

  1. If you catch yourself ranting or whining, stop. Don’t whine or rant.
  2. If you do decide to whine or rant, tell your readers why. And then make sure they take away a couple of tips like:
    1. Boiling the Easter eggs before painting them is a good idea.
    2. Appearances can be deceptive. Just a few pitfalls I fell into¬†which you should avoid: 1, 2, 3…. 24… (perfect list post).
    3. How I tried to make money sleeping and was swindled out of my life savings in just under a week. (Surprise: takeaway tips should tell readers how to hold on to their money.)
    4. What blogging might lead to –¬†see my post about my experience with the side-effects of blogging.

The entertaining type of post beats whining by a streetlength. If you know an appropriate street, let me know in a comment ūüėČ

Business blog: when do you stop blogging about your company?

Don’t blog about yourself. You might ask how you’re supposed to do that but seriously, your blog should be as little about you as possible. Focus on taking the picture, not on being in the picture.

A few further tips:

  • Don’t¬†tell me¬†your company and¬†services are unique. Share thoughts and facts based on your personal experience to show the (possibly unique) value you can add, without getting up people’s noses.
  • Don’t lump your readers into a group they don’t identify with just because you see them as a market segment. Whenever you do this, you’re taking yourself as a starting point rather than your readers’ interests or your clients’ needs.

When can you talk about you?

Feel free to share your happy (business) moments:

  • Upload that picture of your kitten after it crawled into dad’s empty pajama’s – you’ll keep people going for a week. (I’m sure my parents still have that photograph in an album from the, what,¬†1970s?)
  • Let us know you just launched new product X and how hard you worked. Then snap out of it and tell us how that will help us.¬†Blogging is¬†about your readers, remember?

What do you think:¬†so long as¬†you mind how you do it,¬†talking or blogging about yourself or your business isn’t¬†such bad thing – or is it? What are your definite don’ts in blogging?