Blogging 101: Post Your Passion
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I see tweets, Facebook posts, even whole chats given over to the topic of “What should I post on my blog?” To me, this seems a little bit odd - and a bit broad. What if what people want to see is not what you want to post about? Then what do you do? It’s one thing if you’re trying to take your blog pro - then, you should be talking with the people who pay you and see what they will pay for, or you should hire a consultant to tell you what’s popular, what are the trends, help you build your editorial content. (Or research that on your own, whatever.) But throwing out a totally open ended question like that? How do you expect to get a satisfactory answer? Everyone will have different opinions - and even if you get a consensus, it may not be the answer that will help you reach your particular goals.
My best advice is: write about what you’re passionate about, in your own voice. That combination will make your blog unique from anyone else, but it will also be the most enjoyable to maintain, and the least work to polish and improve (if you are taking this to a pro level, you’ll want to make sure that your writing, structure, and grammar are spot on.) If you love talking about the science behind why something works, talk about that! If you like comparing and contrasting products or techniques, do that! If focussing on techniques instead of individual products is what catches your interest, but product reviews make your teeth itch, then write about techniques! You’ll love what you’re writing, you’ll keep writing because it will rarely be “a chore”, and the audience that wants to read what you’re writing about will find you. (This, of course, doesn’t necessarily apply if you’re consciously trying to build The Biggest Audience Possible. If that’s your goal, then you’re probably looking to be a pro blogger, and you’ll want to hire a consultant. There’s only so much information that crowdsourcing can get you; and if you’re relying on your blog to make money, you probably want to invest wisely rather than relying on fortune and chance.)
Writing voice refers to your style: grammar, sentence and paragraph structure, word choices, tone. Within a certain voice, there’s always room to strengthen your sentence structure, expand your vocabulary, and generally hone your craft. When blogging, language is your primary tool. Learning the finer points of using that tool is no different than learning how to use the settings on your camera, figuring out how you want to stage and light your photos, and choosing the blogging platform you’ll use. Sure you can write, and if you’ve gone through formal education, you can probably write at least to an eighth-grade level (which is about the average, for first-world countries.) That means that you’ve got the basics down - there’s always room for improvement. Even the best writers - especially the best writers - are constantly honing their writing expertise. Use the voice that you’re most comfortable with, but learn how to use language to enhance and improve that voice. A super-bubbly cheerleader-blogger can stay incredibly upbeat and gushingly enthusiastic, but use exclamation points to better effect. The lyrical blogger, a nascent poet, has an ever-expanding vocabulary and can constantly learn better sentence structure so as to use all those adjectives to maximum effect. The hardcore objective blogger can figure out other ways to compare things, break down the value and cost, showcase the utility (or lack thereof), and include more information in a format that’s easy to digest and understand.
When someone writes about something that their heart isn’t really in, it shows up - not by comparing it to other blogs, but by comparing to other posts on their own blog. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s glaringly obvious…but if you’re taking more and more sponsored posts because it makes you money but you don’t genuinely appreciate the products, don’t kid yourself. You may be able to sneak the first few posts past people, but your lack of joy will start to show through. Your own love of blogging will slowly erode, and things you post won’t interest anyone: not you, not your readers (however many or few you have), not folks who may find you through search engines.
There are so many different types of posts, different ways to present information…and everyone will respond to them differently. I am not visually oriented, so posts that are tons of photos (even really good ones) aren’t nearly as interesting as posts that also include the author’s impressions of texture, tone, application, and so forth. See a type of post but want to do something a little different? Do it! You may start a whole new trend! Want to post about a certain topic or theme, but don’t see anyone else doing it? Then go for it - you’re a trailblazer! Whether you’re a dabbler, and ardent hobbyist (me) or a pro, blog in a format that you enjoy writing, about topics that pique your interest. Blog your passion, and then even if you have a slow week or get no comments, you will have the enjoyment of planning and writing the post.
This doesn’t mean you can’t gather feedback when you want it. Figure out several topics that you would actually genuinely like to post about, and ask what people would like to see. Or ask about past posts of yours, and what more people would have liked from those posts. Turn the question into something that others can actually answer, and the responses into something you can genuinely use.
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