Whether an author, preacher or blogger generating new content week after week is hard. To make matters worse you can’t just generate content. You have to produce something which people actually want. Yesterday Carey Nieuwhof shared his secret sauce for generating content which people actually want.
Anyone who has ever started a blog other than a personal journal knows the challenge of consistently generating content. Here are five things I do to try and keep consistent content.
TIP #1 – Write in Chunks
Writing is a tricky thing. Sometimes words just flow quickly from your mind into the computer, but other times you can struggle to construct a single sentence. While it’s worthwhile to work on being disciplined, the reality is that you will produce more and better content when you’re inspired. When you’re inspired, write a lot!
TIP#2 – Don’t Be Afraid of Short Posts
If you’re like me, you tend to write long posts. I don’t even mean to do it. I just start typing and by the time I’m finished I’ve written far too much. Because of this tendency, whenever I write a shorter post, I don’t feel like I’ve created something worthwhile.
It’s ok to write shorter posts. Ever post doesn’t need to fully explore the subject. You just need something to say.
TIP #3 – Break Long Posts Up Into Multiple Posts
As I said in the previous post, when I sit down to write, I tend to write far more than I anticipated. When a post turns into an e-Book turn it into a series (and be sure to include links to the other posts). Ideally you’ll want to give each part a unique title and I would avoid simply using something like “Blog Series Part I” (in the past I’ve done this poorly)
TIP #4 – Get Evernote on Your Phone & Record Every Idea You Have for a Post
I’m a big fan of Evernote. Whatever note taking app you use, always keep a running note for blog ideas. Right now I have 13 blog ideas in my Evernote account. Several of these ideas would function well as a series. Half of the list have no content besides a title, and the other half have actual points and outlines. These ideas go back as far as two years.
In addition I have 24 blogs in draft form in my blog software. Once again about half of these posts are just an idea, and the other half I have already started writing. I recently posted a blog which I started writing four years ago.
You always want to have lots of ideas for what to write when you’re inspired
TIP #5 – Find External Content to Supplement Days
THREE THINGS I DO:
- Free Stuff on Fridays – Just find free stuff you want to share
- Blog Round Up – Simply share links to your favorite articles and blogs of the week
- Videos – Anytime I see something on YouTube I want to share, so long as it isn’t urgent, I scheduled it for the next open Saturday or Sunday
Yesterday I wrote on how to get a group of initial readers. Today I’m writing about how to continue to bring in readers over the long haul.
TIP #1 – Post Consistently & Generate Lots of Content
The more content you generate, the more entry points your blog will have. Blog posts can generate readers at two times: (1) the initial readers, (2) long-term readers. The first category are people who read the post during it’s first week. The second group of people are those who find the post later on through browsing your archive, Google searches, or social media foot print. My most read blog by far is a random post about Andy Stanley from 2009. It’s initial readers was very low, but because it has a good title, it pops up in a lot of google searches about Andy Stanley. Some of my other top blogs addressed a time sensitive topic. Their initial readers were very high, but the number of readers quickly faded.
The moral of the story, generate lots of content and you’re more likely to have something that catches.
TIP #2 – Titles Really Matter
People click on links because the title catches their attention. An ambiguous title, won’t catch anyones attention.
A bad title won’t get any initial readers. A couple years back I wrote a blog titled, “Visitors From Rome.” It was an inspiring post about everyone’s incredible potential to make a massive impact over time. Unfortunately, the title doesn’t really indicate what the blog is about. So no one read it. Yesterday I posted a re-written version of the same blog with the title, “Your Life Could Change the World! …and you might not know it!”
Simple question to ask yourself:
If I randomly saw a blog with this title would I click on it.
If not even you would click on it, why would you think someone else would.
More important than the initial readers are the long term readers! As I mentioned earlier, my biggest post of all time is because it has well constructed title around a person who people Google frequently. Another one of my most read blogs is also one of my worst blogs. I wrote an article stating that I was going to write a sermon series using a writing program called Scrivener. It had no useful content, it simply announced to the world I was going to experiment. Well, apparently lots of people have GOOGLED “Sermon” and “Scrivener” together looking for suggestions. I had a good title for a bad blog, and a good title brought in lots of initial readers, but I doubt any of them stuck around once they read the bad article.
The moral of the story: Matching a great title with great content is a powerful one/two punch.
TIP #3 – Put a Graphic in Each Post
My sister taught me this trick just this last week. It was actually kind of a funny conversation. She has a very successful blog with lots and lots of followers, and I had lunch with her to ask about best practices. She really only gave me one piece of advise, “You have to put a graphic in every single post…” (we will continue this quote in our next tip). Being that I’m over communication at my church, I assumed she was referring to the aesthetic value which graphics bring to design layout. …that was not at all what she had in mind. Her point was something totally different.
Graphics are an essential part of sharing. As I said earlier being able to SHARE blogs easily is essential in the social media era. However, because of the raw amount of data on social media, you need something which makes your items pop when they’re shared.
Without a graphic in a post, shared items default to your blogs top banner. Thus each time you share your blog, the graphic is the same, unless you create a new graphic. The problem with repeating the same graphic over and over is that it will stop catching peoples attention.
As a case in point, as an experiment I posted a title graphic on a post I made back in May, and I reposted the blog to my Facebook page. Within minutes more people read it than before, and several people shared the link to their own page. The graphic instantly caught their eye.
THERE’S A MORE IMPORTANT REASON TO INCLUDE A GRAPHIC…
TIP #4 – Setup a Pinterest Account
As an adult male, prior to a week ago I did not have a Pinterest account, and it never occurred to me that I ever would have an account. Then I had lunch with my sister. Picking up with our quote from the last tip, “”You have to put a graphic in every single post. I can’t post your blogs to my Pinterest account if you don’t include a unique graphic. Put a picture in all of your posts.” As it turns out, this was amazing advise.
Currently Pinterest is driving an enormous percentage of blog traffic. It provides an opportunity to easily market yourself to large groups of people, and there is tremendous opportunity for posts to go viral.
In just one week of fiddling with Pinterest & blogging (and I really haven’t done much other than start an account and put graphics in my posts) I have already had two posts go viral to some extent. Multiple people I don’t know pinned my articles to their wall. Now to be fair, I do have a supportive sister with a very large following who was the original pinner, but I also haven’t done ANYTHING to expand my own base of followers yet. A week after the post was first pinned someone I don’t know repinned the post yet again, and for some reason it exploded (by my standards). I had more page views in one hour than I’ve ever had in a day, and I had an enormous number of repins. In just one week, this post became my most viewed post in my blogs history.
Pinterest provides a tremendous opportunity to drive long-term readership of individual blogs.
I’m by no means a successful blogger. But I have been writing on and off again on this blog for five years, and I’ve had multiple other blogs over the last ten years.
If you do a Google search for tips on how to get readers you will almost certainly get an article written by a mega-blogger. That’s all fine and dandy, but their story of success is unlikely to be the same as yours. If you’re a mega-blogger in 2013, then you’ve almost certainly been blogging for a long time, and grew your base in an different era of the blog world. Or they have a platform which gives them a built in reader base.
While I may not have a massive following I do know which practices have helped me increase my readers. None of these are super sophisticated. This is intended to be beginner level stuff.
TIP #1 – Post Your Blogs on Social Media Sites
In the year 2013, this might be the most basic way for you to increase your readers. Simply take the link for each article and post it on all of your social media platforms. Depending on your number of friends and followers on Twitter this might give you an instant reader base. I work at a church so I naturally have several hundred people who might be interested in what I have to say on a topic.
Right now my blog is connected to my Twitter account. As soon as I post a blog the link shows up in my Twitter feed…and my Twitter feed is connected to my Facebook account. It requires no effort on my part, and it spread the word very quickly. I’m strongly considering breaking this connection in the near future. As I am starting to blog more I don’t want to over-promote my blogs to my Facebook friends. Of course, there are other ways to connect to Facebook which I will likely explore.
The limitation of this method is it limits you to people you already know. If you write a really good post, you may get a few shares, but overall you’re pulling in friends, family, and co-workers
TIP #2 – Follow & Comment on Other Blogs
Blogging is a communal activity. Aside from mega-blogs, most bloggers interactive heavily in the comment section. Very frequently if you comment on someone else’s blog, they will return the favor. If they find vibrant content, they may stick around.
TIP #3 – Use the Share This App
I can not over-state the importance of being able to share your posts at this point in human history. A couple of years ago Apple redesigned both iOS and OSX to make it as simple as possible to share anything on social media.
If you want to increase your readers, you need to make it as simple as possible for your users to share your content. The “SHARE THIS” app is easy to install and has nice big professional looking buttons. You get to select which social media sites you want to include, and they install the widget for you.
TIP #4 – Schedule Posts in Advance
At this moment I have about 10 posts scheduled in advance ready to be posted. This gives me the ability to map out what’s coming in advance and plan for busy weeks. You don’t always know when you’re going to be inspired so it’s good to stay ahead.
Scheduling also always you to post blogs at better times of day to catch readers. Depending on whether I’m posting a blog which is intended for blog readers or Facebook friends, I will change the time of day. Studies show most blog readers play catch up around 9:00 a.m. However, more people are on Facebook in the evening.
TIP #5 – Bring in Guest Bloggers
This point is simple enough. When you bring in a guest blogger, you get their readers to check out your blog. I’ve had my wife guest write a couple of blogs on here. Each time I have done so, her blogs have far more readers than mine, but my blog in the series also gets a boost in readers.
Likewise, any break from the ordinary is reason for people to pay attention at a given moment.
Depending on what circles you run in probably know about Jon Acuff from one of two very different things:
I can’t say I’m an expert on Jon Acuff’s life, but as best I can tell, the first of these achievements most likely led to the second.
In this short video he gives spot on insight into the big difference between successful and unsuccessful blogging.
Saw this over at Big is the New Small
Seth Godin talks about the value of daily recording your thoughts and why people get writers block.