As someone who blogs regularly both for work and pleasure, I am all too familiar with the issue of writer’s block. Finding sufficient inspiration to fuel a daily, weekly or even monthly post can prove a struggle – and knowing what to write about and when is something our clients often quiz us about when embarking on a new corporate blog. Choosing a subject that will also attract traffic is an even tougher call – after all, what’s the point of a putting all your efforts into a blog post that noone will read?
IBM have tackled this issue in an innovative way with their Blog Muse tool, described recently on Gigaom as:
“…a kind of social recommendation system for blog posts in which users say what they want to read about, other users then vote on those suggestions, and the most popular topics get distributed to those most likely to want to write about them…”
Sadly this tool is currently only available to IBM bloggers via an internal system, but with the wealth of analytics and trending tools available, there’s nothing to stop any company or individual blogger putting a similar process in place to inform their blogging schedule.
If you read Roger’s recent post on Informed Creativity, you’ll have seen our Social Media Planning slidedeck, which outlines C&M’s approach to content planning. And as far as blogging is concerned, it’s not a million miles away from IBM’s technique.
From my point of view, as the person who drives the creative side of content planning, it helps to pinpoint more general content themes for each client, around which to write specific blog posts. This not only gives a focus for the analytics that drive topic ideas and keywords, but helps to ensure a good balance of content on an ongoing basis.
These themes are obviously different for every client and industry, but here are some of the recurring ones as a guide:
- PRACTICAL: Deconstruct industry practices, offer advice/recommendations
- EVENTS: Identify and write about key industry events/conferences. Live tweeting from events can also be made into post-event blog posts
- CASE STUDIES: Interviews with key customers/clients – this could be via an embedded video or podcast, or a plain old-fashioned written piece
- CHALLENGES: Respond to common industry problems, encourage customers/potential customers to interact
- NEWS: Staying on the pulse of related online content and commenting on high profile news pieces/articles, adding your own thoughts on a subject via blog posts/tweets
- SURVEYS: Encourage customers and general public to participate in area/event/topic focused online surveys and use the results to create blog posts and stimulate conversation
- STAFF: Individual blog posts by employees with more personality (i.e. ‘The team recommends’, opinion pieces, fun stuff)
There are plenty more I could include, but you get the picture. Once this content framework is in place, we use our analytics and trending tools to identify the best subjects to blog about at any given time and the best keywords to focus on within those broad themes.
Our blogging guide tells you more about this content planning process, as well as lots of other useful tips on blogging in general – including what to write about and how to get your blog noticed once it’s up and running.
Remember that a good post doesn’t have to equal a long blog post, in fact short and sweet is often the best way to ensure that the whole post gets read and isn’t dismissed as ‘TLDR’ (thanks, @Jake_Doran, for that gem). Many blog posts these days simply consist of a Social embed (Flickr slideshow, YouTube video) with a little bit of an intro – and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it’s useful, relevant and interesting to your readership.
And whether you decide to blog daily, weekly or monthly – stick to a consistent publishing schedule so that your regular readers will know what to expect and you will know exactly how much content you need to be producing in your planning cycle.
If you follow these simple principles, you should never find yourself asking “what shall I blog about today?” or plucking random subjects out of the air.
The thumbnail that accompanies this post was adapted from a photograph by FarleyJ on Flickr."