Entries from November 2009 ↓

Generating Post Ideas

One of the most common problems with writing a blog is generating enough content to keep on blogging! Even if you’re a daily journal type blogger (like me), sometimes there just isn’t anything new to say. So what do you do? Well, I think blogging is a pretty personal thing, and you’ll have to come up with your own solution, ultimately, but I can tell you what I do.

1. Always remember What Not to Post. This can be hard, especially if the only things you have to post about are on your personal list of Things I Will Not Post About. But do not stray. You’ll regret it in the long run.

A hand-drawn mind map
Image via Wikipedia

2. Brainstorm some post ideas. At first, especially if you’re writing a topical blog, the ideas will be fast and furious. Capture as many of them as you can, maybe in a Word Doc, maybe as a draft post, but don’t use them all right away. Schedule them for regular intervals. After the first round dries up, you’ll have to practice some other techniques for generating post ideas. One of my favorites is mind mapping. Pro Blogger takes you through the mind mapping process for generating blog post ideas.

3. Make an editorial schedule. You’ll probably want to do this first, before you’ve even launched your blog, but if you have an established blog, it’s never too late to implement. My schedule is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I have a list of blog ideas covering as many weeks in advance as possible. I’m not completely tied to the list, in case something cool happens that I have to blog about instead, but at least I avoid blogger’s block completely, and always have something to write about! I use an Excel spreadsheet to do this, but you could use anything you like: calendaring software, Word doc, or even just draft posts in your blog platform.

How about you? How do you keep on keepin’ on with your blogging? Give me some more ideas in the comments!

Be Yourself… Unless You’re Rude or Something

I’ve been priveleged to be on a couple of podcast interviews in the recent past, one for Laura at 15SecondPitch and one for Stay Happily Married. (Check them out, if you feel so inclined!) Interviewing can be a little nerve-wracking, especially when you’re on live! So, here’s my advice if you’re up for a radio/podcast interview in the near future:

  • See if you can get the questions ahead of time. Most interviewers know the importance of planning great questions, so they’re planning ahead anyway, and won’t mind sending you over the outline.
  • Study! It’s not a test, but you have the questions, so you might as well come up with some responses. I always write mine out in paragraph form because I find that’s what works best for me, but you could do a bulleted list or whatever makes you most comfortable.
  • Don’t over study. It’s not a test, as I said. A lot of times, you won’t get the questions in the same order, and you may not even get the same questions. So have an idea of what you’ll say, but don’t be tied to your script.
  • Be yourself! If you’re a writer, you already know the importance of “voice,” that thing about your style and tone that is unique to you. Well, you have a conversational “voice,” too, so don’t lose that! Pretend you’re talking to a friend.
  • Um, but don’t be yourself if you’re rude or something. Most of the time, you’re at least hoping a lot of people will hear your interview, so don’t be a butt. But that’s pretty much good advice for life in general: don’t be a butt.

What Not to Post

Back in the early days of blogging, circa December 2000, you could pretty much get away with saying anything, because nobody knew what the heck a blog was anyway. Wanna trash your family? Sure! Want to complain about your job? Right on.

But, people, you can’t do that anymore! Blogging is in the public now, and your blog is not hard to find. If, like me, you’re using your blog as a marketing tool, it’s all the easier for people to find it and to link it with you.

All of that means that you need to think about your blogging a little more, and be a little careful about what you’re saying. I can see some of you writhing under the restrictions already. If you’re the kind of person that has to say what you have to say, and damn the consequences, this is going to be hard for you. You might consider starting an anonymous blog (although what’s the fun of a blog if you can’t share it with the people you know?) or a password-protected blog.

For those of you that are braving the public and attributable blog, though, here are my suggestions on What Not to Post:

  1. Anything you don’t want your boss to read.
  2. Anything you don’t want your mom to read.
  3. Embarrassing photos of anyone who could beat you up.
  4. Stories involving your friends that they didn’t say you could post. Otherwise, they’ll end all conversations with you with the phrase, “But don’t put that on your blog!”
  5. Stuff you’ll wish you could take back later. Teh Internets remembers everything.

Good and scared now? Then my job here is done. ;) Go forth and post!

Your Elevator Pitch

I bet you thought that you only had to pitch your book before you sold it. Wrong! People are routinely going to ask you, “What’s your book about?” And you’re going to have to be able to tell them in roughly ten seconds. So practice your pitching, even after selling!

My favorite article on pitching is Virginia Kantra’s Guide to Perfect Pitch. She gives a great jumping off point for how to formulate the structure of your pitch. You can also use some of the stuff you did for your synopsis or blurb for your pitch.

I personally think that the most important part of pitching is practicing, which is a little hard to do by yourself. Sure, you can practice to your dog, but dogs don’t generally talk back. Editors and agents do! I had one pitch once where I had my whole schpeil memorized, but the agent kept interrupting to ask questions, and it threw me for a loop!

What are your best pitching tips and resources?

Twitter Advice Round-up

Over the months, I’ve written quite a lot of advice on getting the best out of Twitter. There are a LOT of supposed social media experts out there, and I in no way claim to be one of them, but I love learning how other people use different tools, so I’m sharing in the spirit of collaboration. Please share your Twitter tips with me, too!

Here’s a round-up of all the Twitter advice I’ve ever given (at least in writing):

You DO Have Time to Tweet: 5 Time-Saving Twitter Tips — This is my first ever post for our shiny new company blog. I’m pretty psyched about it! (My day job is at Brooks Bell Interactive, a super awesome direct online marketing agency.)

Helpful Stuff Update: The Best Free iPhone Apps — I mention a Twitter iPhone app that I love in this post, called TweetDeck.

Helpful Stuff: The Best Free iPhone Apps — This is the original Best Free iPhone Apps post. I list Ping.fm as one of my favorite apps. It’s a Twitter/Facebook/Brightkite/whatever else updater.

Powering Up Twitter — This article outlines how I take advantage off all the things Twitter lets you do, and how I make it do more than it was ever really intended to do.

Interview on the 15secondpitch BlogTalkRadio show — I talk quite a lot about Twitter in this interview, so take a listen.

Twitter as Recruiter — How I landed my current job via Twitter.

Ok, your turn. Share your Twitter tips in the comments or leave a link to your Twitter tips blog post. I’d love to see what you think!