Tag Archives: blogging challenges

“Just Effing Do It: 8 Steps To Writing Better Blog Posts”

For both new and old bloggers, sometimes the hardest part of blogging is the process of taking an idea and turning it into something others can appreciate.  By breaking each part down into unique actions, a daunting post gets digested into bite-sized pieces.  Today, socialTNT shares our 8 step process for writing better blog posts.

1. Look for inspiration

Most of my ideas come to me while I’m at work–a client asks a question or a brainstorm leads to a new thought.  Also, reading my favorite blogs, their comments or a heated Twitter discussion can get my mental juices flowing.  I’ve even had inspiration hit while I’m at the gym. Inspiration can come from anywhere, so carry a notebook to jot ideas down before you forget.

2. Research Your Topic

Choose anidea and research it on Google, Wikipedia and other blogs.  Spend 20 – 30 minutes filling your head with everything there is to know about the topic so your thoughts can pour out when you start writing. Remember: Research can also spawn ideas for future posts.

3. Take A Break

Grab a snack. Walk around the block.  Give your brain 5 minutes to process what you’ve just learned.

4. Brainstorm Post Ideas

Take 10 -15 minutes and make a list of all everything that comes to mind.  Stay positive and don’t judge the ideas while brainstorming. No idea is too dumb, small, big, etc.  Write it all down.  You never know what may spawn something newer and better.  Keep the list–you never know when you’ll need some ideas.

5. Conduct follow-up research (Optional)

The idea you chose after the brainstorm might need a little more research with some tighter search terms.  Email or call a friend, expert or anyone who can help sort out your thoughts or give you deeper insight.

6. Just Effing Write

Choose an idea and write.  Don’t worry about making it perfect.  If you’re like me, then you’re your worst critic.  I used to kill so many posts before they were written by worrying whether they would be too basic or not eloquent enough.  Some of the posts I’ve worried most about before publishing seem to be the ones that get the most traffic/comments–once they get writtenSo don’t let the fear of failure get in the way of creating something great.  Just effing write it!

7. Proof it.  Clean it up.  Give it to a friend

This is the editing phase.  Now is your chance to be critical.  Read it once for grammar and once for clarity.  You may find that you need to write more or cut back a lot. Don’t fret. No one writes perfect posts each time they sit down.  Just write.  If you start to get too critical, pass it on to a trusted friend for feedback

8. Publish that Bad Boy

Your idea is no longer a child, so set it free.  It will mature as comments and discussion grow around it.  Smile! You just shared an idea with the world. You are a part of history!

What steps do you take to keep your blog in shape? How do you fight writer’s block? Let us know in the comments!

[This post inspired by “A Technique for Producing Ideas” by James Webb Young, the 43 Folders blog by Merlin Mann, and “Getting Things Done” by David Allen]

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[The above photo, “Vieja Maquina de Escribir. / Old Writing Machine.” by Gonzalo Barrientos on Flickr, used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Blogging

“Our Modern Lives: Tune In or Turn Off?”

Today’s post was written by contributing writer Marie Williams.

With Blackberries and iPhones keeping us constantly connected to an online IV stream, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to disconnect. As of late, discussion around the problems of our “always on” lifestyles seem to be popping up everywhere. Last month, the Churchill Club held a panel on the issue of information overload. And, even more alarming, The New York Times recently chronicled the health problems–and two deaths–resulting from the demands of round-the-clock blogging. While not as severe as those tragic cases, I recently came face-to-face with my own info-addiction.

A couple of weeks ago, I visited my sister for a week holiday in Seattle. The whole time I was there, I was either checking my Google reader or Twitter on my phone. I was so plugged in that I somehow managed to catch some major coverage of a client before my team even had a chance to see it. Yeah, I know: I was supposed to be on vacay. Don’t judge me!

The topic came up again a few nights ago when Chris and I met up with Twitter friends Paull Young and Christi Eubanks. After discussing some geeky, social media PR theory, the topic turned to being always plugged in. Neither Paull nor I could ever imagine completely unplugging from the Internet; Paull said (and I agree) that there are just too many important relationships that would be lost in the disconnect.

Chris and Christi weren’t as game to the idea, both affirming that they could see themselves easily wanting to escape their online life. Then, Chris asked a very interesting question: What if the Internet no longer existed? What if some major event happened and the Internet went kaput as a result? It’s almost a little too scary to think about.

No blogs? No Twitter? No Facebook? No way to always know any and all details about your friends? Is such an existence possible?! It must be; we’d all led an Internet-free life before, right?

What would I do if the internet no longer existed? I guess I’d probably just spend time doing more of the offline activities I already love, like reading books, hiking, sharing more one-on-one time with friends, and reconnecting with the earth (yes, I know it’s hokey, but its true). In fact, some of my most memorable times include patches with no phone reception or lack of access to a computer. Go figure.

This past Monday, Stacey Higginbotham over at GigaOm wrote a great post talking about her over-connected life. After discussing the stresses of being continually plugged in, she pointedly says: “I’m choosing to turn off my computer now.”

It’s a difficult balance, but I think Marshall Kirkpatrick from Read/Write Web says it best in a post discussing RSS feeds last week: “I don’t know why people feel obligated to read every item in every feed they’ve subscribed to. Get over that and you’ll already be a far happier person.” The same can be applied to our online existences. We shouldn’t feel obligated to be in the know all the time about everything that’s going on in the cyberworld. Maybe if we just dip in every now and then and we’ll be happier! I know it works for me. 🙂

What about you? Could you or do you ever completely disconnect? How do you prevent information overload?

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[The above photo, “Streeter Seidell, Comedian” by Zach Klein on flickr, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under Future of Media, Social Media, Social Networking

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: Chef Liz Bills, California Table”

It’s that time again, folks! That’s right: “3Q’s in 3 Min!” Every Thursday, socialTNT turns citizen journalist by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. Lately we’ve had some high profile reporters/analysts. Today, I wanted to change it up a little.

One of the purposes of this blog is to really make sense of all the social media technologies in an effort to understand their PR/Marketing applications. Admittedly, I’m so far out in my high-tech PR world, that I forget what it’s like on ground zero. With that in mind, today’s “3 Q’s in 3 Min” takes a step back to look at how people outside the tech bubble are using social media to promote their businesses.

Today, Chef Liz Bills from California Table tells us why she started blogging, the challenges she has encountered along the way, and the successes she has seen as a result of engaging in social media. Her experience resonates with anyone who has started or is looking to start a blog–from personal blogger to corporate blogger to small business owner–or anyone embarking on their journey learning social media.

Liz, a former Kitchen Manager at SF hot spot NOPA, recently started her own personal chef/cooking class business. A confessed technophobe and computer novice, Liz felt she had to get her story online in order to compete in the tech heavy San Francisco Bay Area.

Liz’s blog focuses on the importance of buying local and organic food. It also helps to brand Liz’s company by offering up cooking suggestions. As she explains in the video, it has proven to be an invaluable piece of PR and word-of-mouth marketing.

One of her biggest challenges was learning how to use blogging software. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, all the emerging technology can be pretty crazy for me and I deal with it every day. Liz’s advice: “You just have to force yourself to learn, especially if you want to stand out.” Hat’s off to you Liz for trying!

Take a look at what Liz has to say. (PS: There was apparently some audio glitch in my camera. She wants to let everyone know she does not have a lisp!)

How have other new bloggers solved the content problem? Has blogging helped your small business? I’d love to hear success or challenge stories!

Thanks, Liz, for sharing your experience with socialTNT. It’s great that you are so intent on trying new things.

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Marketing, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0