I’ve been writing on blogs in some format since back in 2006 and while I may not be “well known” or “famous” as a blogger or writer, I’ve learned a few things along the way.
The biggest problem I see with so many people, myself included as I went on this journey all those years ago, is that we let the idea of writing an article intimidate us.
It’s not surprising really. We spend all those years in school learning to write papers for teachers in which we had to be comprehensive. As a student, if I was given an assignment to write a paper about tigers it damn well better include EVERYTHING I could find out about tigers.
It would be one paper, totally comprehensive with every fact, thought, or idea I could find about tigers. Tiger biology. What is their habitat? Behavioral traits. Cultural significance of tigers. And on and on and on, until the very end of the paper and we can make a closing statement about what amazing creatures tigers really are.
If we approach writing for a blog in that way it begins to sound like a hell of a lot of work for a passion project, does it not?
Writing a weekly, in depth research paper is… well… intimidating.
Unless you are writing an article for a magazine or website reporting scientific research or in depth analysis of a topic, that mindset is a useless endeavor.
In fact, taking that approach is a huge mistake for a number of reasons IF you are trying to build up a blog/website sharing knowledge about a topic you love.
The fact is, if you try to write these massive, all encompassing style articles you better be doing it as your job in which you can spend all day researching and writing your next novella of a post. That kind of thing takes some serious time!
Back to basics – What is a blog?
If we break it down, though, writing a blog is not rocket science. But it can bring incredible amounts of creative joy if we can escape that feeling of being intimidated of writing articles regularly!
A blog is simply this:
- A home for you to share any and all thoughts you want to share about a topic(or topics) you are passionate about.
- Somewhere to put your thoughts together in an easily share-able format so that anyone else that is interested in them can ALSO enjoy the thoughts you share.
No special rules. Not a single word count, page count, or thesis requirement in sight.
So you want to start a blog about Tigers, huh?
Let’s talk about some things you SHOULD do if you are starting(or trying to maintain/build) a blog.
Guidelines to keep in mind
I know I just said there were no special rules. Think of these more as guidelines and strategies than rules, ok?
Good. Here we go.
Let’s stick with our example about a blog about tigers for now. While there are a number of super in depth strategies we could get deep into, things like understanding SEO, building mailing lists, site structure, etc., I don’t want to worry about that stuff right now.
I want to talk about content strategy, the real guts of a blog. Without something for people to read, there’s no reason to stick around.
No brainer, huh!
Okay, back to tigers.
Instead of taking a big topic that you love, tigers, and trying to write article after article in “research paper” mode, break it down into smaller bite sized chunks.
By breaking that giant research paper down into those more easily digestible posts you ensure a few things.
- The intimidation factor of having to write that research paper over and over is gone. You can instead pick one small detail that you love and write a short article about just that thing.
- You get to inject more of YOU into your writing. The goal isn’t just to tell your readers the scientific facts about tigers. Rather, you get to tell them all about why baby tigers are the cutest baby animals in the world in your opinion. Or maybe about how your grandpa LOVED tigers and passed that fascination on to you, so much so that when he passed away you got a tiger tattoo in his honor.
- You’ll alleviate the feeling of “running out of things to say”. Let’s face it, if you are writing those massive, all encompassing, research paper style posts for EVERY ARTICLE… you WILL run out of things to write about sooner rather than later. Shorter, more focused, posts about specific topics give you a renewable resource of ideas.
- It allows you to actually build a resource over time. All of those short posts you write on a consistent basis add up. After a year of writing, you’ll have a whole bunch of detailed posts all about tigers that you can refer people to if they want to know more about tigers. Think long term growth of a library vs short term writing a single book.
This would be (is) my strategy
Ok, enough of tigers for now. I have a good friend that I’ve been TRYING to convince to write about his passion.
Retro video games.
He LOVES retro gaming and since he grew up playing most of these classic systems he also has a ton of personal experience with and knowledge of the amazing history behind retro gaming.
Recently he told me he is writing an article all about the Atari Jaguar system. Sounds pretty awesome to me! So I told him “Yeah man, do a whole series of articles about it!”.
He laughed, so I broke it down for him like this:
If you take the Atari Jaguar, for example, you can write an introductory post with a high level overview of what the system was, when it was out, and a couple of the key features that made it unique. That’s one article.
500-1000 words at most… hell you could keep it at closer to 500 for fast reading(remember the key is trying to get consistent content out at regular intervals).
Then your next articles can be deeper dives into the system. Things like the hardware that made it revolutionary for it’s time. BOOM one article.
Each of the top stand-out games on the system. BOOM one article PER GAME! That equals a TON of future article potential.
Did someone say peripherals? BOOM another article for each.
Oh you also want to write about the NES, SNES, TurboGrafx 16, and all of the other systems. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, article after potential article at your fingertips.
You get bored writing about the Atari Jaguar after the 2nd post, switch to a post on the NES, then jump to the Sega Master System, then back to the Atari Jaguar. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.
More. Post. Potential.
You see where I’m going with this?
Take that one large topic that you love. That thing you could talk about all day long, every day of the week. For me, here, it’s the super diverse world of creativity and our journey through it’s sometimes muddy waters. Break it down and let yourself explore, in small bite sized chunks one post at a time, all the different avenues it presents to you.
(I say this as I’m now over 1100 words into this post!)
When you are super passionate and interested in something, it’s super easy to break one larger topic that, if done in a single article would be a short novel for a reader to sit down and read, down into multiple short reads covering all different aspects of that topic.
Just remember to write it in YOUR voice with YOUR thoughts and perspective.
Don’t worry about writing a scientific/professional research quality paper style of article.
Write clearly, but share what YOU loved about it. Tech specs and details are fine, but share what those things meant to YOU and you’ve got a winner.
So you want to start a blog? Don’t be intimidated. Have fun and do it!
David (Usually Dave) Szweduik is a photographer, podcaster, and all around geek from the great state of Minnesota and can be found weekly on his podcast Adventures in Creativity. There you’ll find him having conversations fueled by curiosity around the amazing world of all things creativity.