Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reviving Your Blog - Schedule

Well, this is one of those "why don't you just practice what you preach, Nicole" blog posts. A key component to reviving your blog - particularly when the need for revival has occurred due to a severe cut in the amount of time you can devote to your blog - is the schedule. There are a number of ways to use the schedule, so you can pick which best suits you, but the fact is it will only work if you actually use it (again... I am looking at you, Nicole, right in the mirror!).

How To Schedule Your Blog Posts

Whatever your blogging platform is, there is a scheduling feature available. For me, on Blogger it is right beneath the section where I add the labels. I simply select a date and time I wish a blog post to be published and then I select to the "publish" button. When I do so, the post will not go live until the date ad time selected.

Ways to Use Schedule

Depending on your needs, there are different ways you can approach the schedule. Here are a couple to consider:
  • The Binge Schedule This is a technique where you can possibly carve out one solid block of blogging time, rather than find the time on a regular basis. Let's say you have a couple of hours of time on a Sunday that you can call "your own," you can use this time to write your entire week's worth of blog posts and then schedule them. You are then freed up for the rest of the week!
  • The Themed Schedule Are you the type of person who gets really excited about one topic at a time, but you want your blog to have a more diverse feel? Rather than post all of your writings on one thing at once, you can schedule them to occur on a weekly or even monthly basis!
  • The Just In Case Schedule Schedules are even useful to bloggers who are able to blog consistently. There are always times when life gets in the way - sickness, holidays, or other distraction - use your schedule feature to be prepared. You can write posts ahead and leave them in draft until needed. When your rainy day shows up, just pop into your bloggin platform and schedule it to cover your butt! I know one blogger who dedicates herself to writing as much as she can one month per year so that she has enough extra blog posts to cover her at least once per month. 
  • The Schedule of Shame This final use of schedule is one that I am participating in right now. I am scheduling posts in the past - making up for the letters I missed earlier this month. Using the schedule feature, anyone who comes to visit my blog later on will not know that I "missed" days - they will all appear with the appropriate dates. It is magical. Using schedule you can rewrite your past!
 COMMENT QUESTIONS:

How do you use the schedule feature on your blog?

Do you prefer to write on a regular basis, or to schedule ahead? Why?


 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reviving Your Blog - Read


Reading is fundamental in nearly all endeavors, however it is particularly important when what you are doing is writing. When you rededicate yourself to your blog, make sure you are taking at least some of your time to read.

What To Read and Why

When deciding what to read, there really is no way to go wrong. Any and all reading will help you, but there are some specific reading assignments you may want to focus on from time to time.
  • Other Blogs Reading other blogs will help you make connections with other bloggers and a broader audience. It will also help you to identify trending topics and questions you may be able to answer for your audience.
  • Magazines Darren Rowse, ProBlogger and author of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog recommends reading and analyzing print magazines in order to identify topics to write about and to see what types of designs the print media are using to capture their audience's attention. This is a great tool in helping to determine how to design your own blog. 
  • Op-Ed Pages The op-ed pages of your local newspaper are great places to find fantastic blogging material. These are the places, before the Internet surfaced, where we could find controversial and thought-provoking topics of discussion. They still do this. Take a piece that interests (or enrages) you and share your reflections on it with your audience!
Time for you to share your thoughts:

What types of things do you like to read? How do they help you blog?

When was the last time you wrote a blog post as a result of something you read? What was it?



Monday, April 20, 2015

Reviving Your Blog - Question

Have you ever thought about the importance of asking a question? There are so many times when conversations die simply because a question was not asked. Do not assume that your readers know that you'd like to hear their comments about your latest writing, when you revive your blog, ask them to participate.

How to Ask Questions In Your Blog

While I do not believe there is any right or wrong way to ask a question of your readers, there are a couple of ways I have found to be effective in the past:
  • Ask for comments. If you have been following my blog you will notice that I end nearly every blog post with a series of questions in order to engage my readers with the post. I do this in the hopes that it ignites a conversation between myself and my readers.
  • Ask yourself first. Is there a question you'd like to discuss with your readers, but you aren't sure how. Simple: Make that question the title of your next blog post. Then you give your answer. At the end of the post, ask your readers to give their own viewpoints.
What Kinds of Questions Should You Ask?

Questioning has always been a big deal from me - it comes from my years as a teacher. If your goal is to spark conversation or deeper thoughts about the topic at hand, then there's pretty much only one rule you need to worry about:
Don't ask any "yes" or "no" questions!
(While I was really good at this in my teaching, as I'm writing this I am realizing I've been breaking this rule a lot in my blogging!)
If you are looking for longer than one word comments from your readers, then you have to steer them in the right direction. Instead of asking a question like "Has this ever happened to you?" change it to "Tell us in the comments about a time when this happened to you!" Even if a reader has never had that happen to them, they are like to comment as such because they will feel the need to respond to the fact that you expected they did. Or, add a second question saying something like, "If this never happened to you, why do you think that is?"  

TIME FOR ME TO QUESTION YOU:

How have you used questions in your own blogging experience?

When faced with a blog post that does not ask you any direction questions, when do you feel compelled to comment?



Friday, April 17, 2015

Reviving Your Blog - Offline

Chances are, if you need to revive your blog, you are well acquainted with the world offline, but did you know that it is relevant to your blogging? When it comes time to revive your blog make sure you continue to make time for offline influences.

How Offline Life Can Help Your Blog

Here are just some of the things in you can do your offline life that can help you to revive your blog:
  • Review Products You Love While offline you are using stuff, reading books, watching TV shows and movies - maybe you are even going to the theater o out to eat. These are all things you can bring back to your blog. You can write reviews for your readers, or, if reviewing is not something you want to bring to your blog, then you can just share relevant parts of the experience.
  • Take Pictures! On "K" day of this month, we discussed "Kodak Moments." Pictures are very important to blogging. Finding stock photos appropriate to your individual posts with the types of permissions for you to use can be difficult and time consuming. So, save yourself the headaches, get offline, take your camera with you, and take some pictures.
  • Go Shopping One of the assignments in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to go to the Mall. Why? To see how stores attract their customers. So get out and see what types of things you can do to attract new readers to your revitalized blog!
Getting Offline To Cure Online Boredom

Finally, getting offline is important in its most basic sense in order to just keep your mind fresh. Getting off the computer and spending time with real humans doing tangible activities can breathe new life into all of your blogging just because it is something different. This may seem like an obvious thing to state if you already have a healthy offline life, but, for many (me included in my many years of chronic sickness) it takes a concerted effort to make the time to be offline. If this is you, I promise it is worth it!

Share Your Thoughts In The Comments Section:

What kinds of offline activities do you participate in that help your blogging?

How much of your blogging is based on the life you lead offline? Could you increase this amount? Is that something that interests you, or do you prefer to keep your online and offline lives separate? 

 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Reviving Your Blog - Niche

Lots of pro bloggers do a lot of talking about niche. They say you need to find one, you need to define yours, and that without one you'll be scrambling. Personally, I'm torn over this topic. For the uninformed, let's begin with a simple definition of the term.

What is a Niche?

In the world of blogging, niche refers to your blog's focus or main topic of discussion. Dictionary.com gives us two definitions of the niche, but only one applies to our discussion here:
a place or position suitable or appropriate for a person or thing:
to find one's niche in the business world.
For many bloggers, they feel quite lost without finding their niche in the blogging world. 

The Pros of Picking a Niche

Imagine walking into a book store where all of the books are just lined up all over the walls without any sort of categorization. Mysteries could be mixed in with cookbooks and romance novels, children's books could be found along with horror and erotica. How would you find the types of books YOU wanted to read? This is pretty much how the blogging world looks to most people. If you pick a niche and make it clear to the blogging world, you take yourself out of those piles of madness and put your blog on a nicely labeled shelf where your readers can find you!

The Cons of Picking a Single Niche

I can only identify one issue with selecting a niche for your blog. It is, however, a pretty big one: boredom. What happens when you are sick of writing about one particular topic, but your readers still expect you to write about it? It is something to think about before deciding what you want your niche to be. Please pick something you are passionate about, not the latest topic that you think will drive the most traffic to your blog! Selecting the latter option is an easy path to madness.

Blogging Without a Niche

Contrary to popular belief, a niche is not a requirement in blogging. Your blogging career/hobby/playtime can be whatever you want it to be. If you don't want to pick a niche, you don't have to. In fact, your niche-lessness may have its own audience waiting for it, just remember it may be a little bit harder to find them.

COMMENT TIME...

What are your feeling about niche?

What is your blog's niche?

What other niches have you considered writing about? What stopped you?