Since this is National Blog Posting Month, I thought it might be a good time to discuss managing a blog.
As a full-time professional genealogist, time for my blog is often limited. I do not always have the ability to write every day. Occasionally I do have a great idea, or an issue arises, that I simply feel compelled to write, right at that moment.
More often, though, I find myself without the time to write. Or worse, I have an hour or so to write, but my mind draws a blank. What should I write about?
This month, I have challenged myself to post a new article every day. To three separate blogs. That comes to 90 articles that I will have to write and post over the next 30 days. I tried this in 2009 with one column, and managed to post about 2/3 of the required 30 articles. I tried again in 2010 with two columns, and only managed to post about 1/2 of the required 60 articles. So what makes me think I will succeed this year, with 90 articles needed?
This year, I am managing my blogs a little better. For me, the most difficult part of managing a blog is coming up with fresh and interesting content every day. Here are a few ideas that might help you:
1. Brainstorm post ideas. In an earlier post I mentioned one of my favorite blogs, Litemind. One of the posts on this site describes the “List of 100” brainstorming method. I have done this quite a few times, for numerous brainstorming sessions: potential articles, potential books, potential lectures, etc. Generally speaking, in a list of 100 you will find a bunch of ho-hum ideas, a bunch of repeats, a few ridiculous ideas, and several gems. By creating such a long list, you force your brain to move outside the box–past the everyday, ho-hum ideas; past the just plain silly; and into the best ideas. You may find only 15 great ideas in that list of 100. With 90 articles needed, I will probably have to post a few ho-hum ideas, but hopefully there will be some great ones too!
2. Read other blogs. What are other bloggers talking about? Many of my blog ideas start as responses, or “my perspective,” on things that other bloggers have said. Sometimes it is a response to a blog post as a whole–sometimes it’s just a single sentence that inspires an entire post. Sometimes just the act of reading gets your creative juices flowing enough that you come up with an idea of your own. If you want to see the best genealogy blogs, I would recommend Randy Seaver’s weekly “Best of the Genea-Blogs” posts, posted every Sunday on his Genea-Musings blog. Randy reads a lot of blogs, and manages to find the best of the best every week. Read these, and you will be forced to kick it up a notch.
3. Keep a list of blog ideas. Many of the best ideas come when you are busy with something else. For example, I often come up with an idea for a blog post while I am working on a client report. There is simply no way that I should stop what I am doing to write that blog post at that time. I could wait–and risk forgetting about the idea before I do find the time to write it. Or I could keep a list of ideas, so that when I have time to write, all I have to do is look at my list, pick a topic, and write. I keep two lists: one on paper for those times when I am not near a computer, the other as a text file on my desktop. That list is definitely going to come in handy this month.
4. Create a blog calendar. Once you have a list of ideas–from brainstorming, reading other blogs, and recording ideas when they come to you–you should schedule out your posts in advance. Since I am scheduling ideas for three separate blogs/columns, I created a table with four columns. The first column is for the days, 1 through 30. Each one of the other three columns is for one of my blogs. Then I just write the topics for each day into the calendar.
5. Participate in a few memes (but not all of them). There are several blogging memes available every day for genealogy bloggers. If you wanted to, you could easily post every day just by following a different meme every day. I wouldn’t recommend it, though. Before I ever started writing a blog, I was a blog reader. Memes lose their attraction pretty quickly. If you are not providing good, quality content every day, you may lose some readers. And if you don’t have any readers, is there really any reason to write? Instead, pick one or two of your favorite memes, but no more than one or two days a week. Personally, I love “Follow Friday” and “A Friend of Friends Friday.” Both of these are on Friday, so I have to alternate or use different blogs to participate. In my blog calendar, I can mark off every Friday to participate in one (or both) of these memes. This saves a little time in trying to come up with a unique topic for these days. But it still leaves me with six days of content that is not attached to a meme.
And here’s a bonus tip:
6. Write your posts in advance. Some blogging platforms, like WordPress, allow you to draft your posts in advance and schedule them for publication later. Take advantage of this when you have time to write. Instead of just writing one post and publishing it immediately, write two or three (or however many you have time to write), and schedule them for later publication.
Do you have any other ideas for managing multiple blogs?