How do I keep up with my blog?
The last few days, Kia and I have split our days between home and After Dark Kansas City. We acted as mentors (teachers), as well as catching up with friends and dropping in on a few classes (called pods or bays) ourselves.
One of the common themes I heard from so many of those I talked to in my classes (I taught classes on blogging, social media and WordPress) was something like this:
I have a blog…I think…I am horrible at keeping up with it. How do I do it?
You’re not alone, and I’m here to help.
Before your write your next blog post…
Don’t post another blog entry, until you’ve read through and thought about these 6 points. It is crucial that you have a solid plan behind your blog.
Don’t blog just because you should blog (though you should – check out these 4 reasons you should blog). Blog because you have a good understanding of what you want to communicate, and how you want to communicate it.
1. Blocks of Time
Paul Graham wrote a wonderful article about the dilemma creatives face when running a business. Most portrait photographers are caught between the maker and manager schedule. By necessity you must schedule shoots, sales, consultations, etc, yet you also need to create – marketing, new ideas, blog posts, etc.
Graham argues that creative projects needs large blocks of time to be done well. Blogging done well, needs a block of time devoted to it.
I suggest taking a half day a week or a day a month to plan, write and schedule your blog posts. If you write more than one post a week, you will need more time. Beginning to end, I spend about 1 hour writing a post, but I also need time to research and plan each post.
This past Spring my daughter informed us she was trying out for the cheerleading squad. I held mixed emotions. I was proud of her for trying something and being willing to try. On the other hand, I was worried – she never even cared about cheerleading.
Kia and I knew she would need both help and determination to make the squad. We provided the help in the form of a former high school cheer coach, but Kessa herself had to decide to do everything she could to make the team.
She had to practice the same cheers over and over. She had to fight through pain, exhaustion and apathy.
The end result…she made the team!
You must determine to write no matter what is happening that week. You must fight through apathy, writers block, fear or anything else thrown your way.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this scenario:
You find a really fun website (photography or otherwise) that you love. You click-through various links coming to the blog page. With anticipation you open it to find it hasn’t been updated since April 2009.
If you’re like me, you never return to that blog again.
You MUST update your blog. Ideally, this would be 2-3 times per week. At the least it should be 3-4 times per month.
If you can’t commit to consistency…don’t start.
To become a better photographer you send your work to competitions; you ask experienced photographers to critique it; you attend classes and read online how to become better; you look at other photographer’s work you admire and decide how to improve your own images.
Writing is no different. You need to hear unbiased opinions on what you are writing.
Is it good? How can you improve? Are you connecting with your target market/client?
5. System and Structure
There are multiple different types of blog post structures you can create. I encourage you to choose one to be very good at, and occasionally add another in for spice. Your followers/clients want to see a full picture of you and your life.
Here are 5 different post structures you can model, and an example of each.
- Story. This is the most common type of post I see photographers create. A story about a recent shoot, and how fun it and the subject(s) was. Dooce is the classic story blogger, and Jasmine Star is the queen of this type of post in the photography world.
- List. A list post shares tips, resources, best-of or how-to information in the form of a list. The average post on The Collective is a list post. My favorite list blogger is Michael Hyatt.
- Tutorial. A tutorial post takes the list post to the next level. It walks through a particular process step-by-step, usually with accompanying images. One of the most popular posts on The Collective is an Instagram tutorial.
- Opinion. Sharing your opinion on politics, religion, family, etc probably isn’t best for the average photography business, but there may be an occasion where it will fit. I shared an opinion post this past Easter. Tara Gentile recently posted an opinion article about the economy.
- Big Thoughts. A big thought post might be 10 words or 1,000 words. It simply shares one big thought in the least amount of words possible. Seth Godin is the king of big thought posts (which he shares 7 days a week).
In one of the early seasons of American Idol, an odd-looking, blues-singing Taylor Hicks won the grand prize. He’s gone on to a modest and uneventful career, so how did he win? He wore his personality on his sleeve. He was likable. He was fun. I’ve never voted on American Idol, but I would have voted for Taylor.
Your blog will be at it’s best when you allow your personality to shine. It starts with being open, authentic and honest (while being careful to not share too much).
The more you refine and define your voice, the better your blog will be.
Ready to start blogging?
The great news is those 6 items cost you nothing other than your time and effort. Your blog will cost you very little…you simply need to put the time and effort into making it what it could be.
You can do it.
Will it be easy? No, but you can do it.
The next step, is to begin writing your first post for a re-defined blog. How do you do that? Glad you asked because I’ll answer that question next week.
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