The most commonly blogged phrase… and how to avoid it

Frosty Morning Web
Image by foxypar4 via Flickr

I have a theory that the most commonly blogged phrase is: “it’s been a while since I last blogged“. Blogs seem like great vehicles to express your ideas and position your business but they take work. Often, the blogger starts blogging with great passion for their subject matter. They have lots to write about. The opportunities seem endless.

But then they falter. Writer’s block strikes. They miss a day. Then a week. Before they know it, a good six weeks or so has gone by. And so they post something like “It’s been a while since I last blogged. Things have been busy around here. I promise that I’ll get back to blogging soon.” Maybe they do… but I’ve seen lots that don’t. When I see the phrase “it’s been a while since I last blogged”, it’s a sure sign that a blog is on life support and the doctor isn’t giving it much longer to live.

If you are starting a blog, or planning to resurrect a comatose blog, here are some tips to help:

First, remember that there is a difference between what you blog about and how you blog about it. It’s the difference between your subject matter and what you say. In order to successfully create a big list of good potential content, you need to brainstorm both.

So, here’s what I suggest:

Step 1: Get a big sheet of paper and turn it lengthwise. Draw a line down the middle from top to bottom so your big sheet of paper is now two blank canvasses of equal size.

Step 2: On the left, spend half an hour listing the key concepts of your subject matter as they come to you. These might be high level keywords or more subordinate ones. Just get a whole bunch of them down on the left side of your paper, even if you don’t think it’s blogworthy content. Aim for a dozen or more (but hopefully you’ll end up with way more than that).

I find that a mindmap works well for this. Start with your main subject at the center and then branch outwards. Write key concepts connected directly to your main subject and then write subordinate concepts branching off from there.

Step 3: On the right side of the page, list common blog post types like:

  • “Tips for____”
  • “Ways to ____ Successfully”
  • “How to ____ Like a Rock Star”
  • “Top Myths About ____”
  • “FAQs About ____”
  • “Favorite Resources for ____”
  • “How to Get Started With ____”
  • “The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About ____”
  • What [a famous person] would say about ____”

You can keep going, of course, but you get the idea.

Step 4. Connect! In theory, you can connect every keyword and concept (from step 2) to every blog post type (in step 3). Therefore, just 3 key concepts connected to each of the 9 ideas listed above will give you 27 blogs. That’s more than enough blogs to post one every weekday of the month!

Obviously, you’ll have many more concepts and you’ll likely have many more blog post types than the nine I’ve listed here. And obviously, you’re not going to easily connect every topic to every blog post type (some simply won’t make sense). But, if you can come up with a dozen key concepts and a dozen blog post types, and even if they don’t all match perfectly, you should still end up with enough content ideas to write daily blogs for an entire quarter of the year!

This is also a helpful tool to create and send to someone you’re hiring to write your blogs for you. As someone who frequently writes blogs for clients, it is a huge help to receive a list of topics from a client so that I know what they feel are the key concepts they want to cover (and I can draw conclusions about what they don’t want to cover as well).

Make 2010 your year of prolific blogging! Follow these steps and never be at a loss for words again.

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