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“Content is king” is one of the first things we learn when we start blogging.

But what does it mean?

Does it mean our content needs to be consistently stellar? Or can some of it be “less than”?

Today’s Lesson

When I started blogging I assumed great content meant I had to produce lengthy posts filled with useful or educational information.

Not being a wordy person, I tried, struggled and gave up trying to do that.

Instead, I decided to publish short “lessons” in which I share what I’ve learned.

Is it good content?

Some will say “no”, but that’s not the purpose of this blog. What’s good and useful on this blog is found in the comments. In the words YOU share.

When I visit other blogs, I rate “good content” as meaning I leave a blog thinking about what was shared. Or maybe I have an “ah ha” moment.

I like posts in which you share what you’ve learned in your life travels, where you showcase your creative writing skills or you engage your readers in the comment section.

I like articles that teach me, as well as posts which only contain photographs.

To me, content is good when you, as a blogger, show me a little more about who you are. Or content where I can see life through your eyes.

King size content can be good, but I feel there are also times when a few sentences is just enough.

What say you?

Today’s Assignment

How do you define good content?

What type of content do you find on other blogs that keeps you going back for more?

Care to share?

signature for blog post

In part one of my interview with Lorelle, she discussed how a new blogger can stay motivated.

Now we move on to another subject I often asked myself. (To avoid redundancy, I asked Lorelle, to include any links to her posts or others she felt would be helpful to the BWAB readers).

2) New bloggers are often confused as to what’s the “right way” to blog. What do you feel are the most common errors bloggers make with their blogs and posts?

Right way to blog? A lot of people charge me with accusations of telling them there is only one way to blog. I never say that. I say that good manners are good manners, whether in person or in the virtual world. What goes in the offline world applies to the online world. We just seem to forget when we cross the Internet line. As my friend, says, “Play nice.” That goes a long way in both worlds.

As to specific and common errors bloggers make with their blogs and blog posts, I would say they are:

  1. Failure to Plan: Too many blog because they think it’s fun, everyone is doing it, they have to, and their friends made them do it. They don’t think the process through. A blog is an investment in time, energy, and creativity. It require participation – your participation not just by your readers. If you aren’t planning for the long haul, it shows. We know it. We’ll stop showing up. And so will you.
  2. Make Copyright Decisions Now – Update Them Later: It’s not a matter of if but when someone will steal your blog content. Stop everything you are doing right now and go read What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content, and Jonathan Bailey’s fantastic articles, 5 Content Theft Myths and Why They Are False and The 6 Steps to Stop Content Theft. Make clear decisions about what your copyright policy is and make it public on your blog on your About Page, copyright policy page, policy and legal page, or wherever and include a copyright link to the information in your blog’s footer. It is your responsibility to decide how you want your content used, and not used, but readers and copyright infringers can’t read your mind. If you don’t care who abuses your content, then say so. If you do, then specify how they can use it within your terms for Fair Use. If you don’t understand how copyright works – learn. You could be infringing upon other people’s copyrights. In order to blog, copyright is the most important laws you must learn. After that comes libel and defamation – learn about those, too. After a few months or a year of blogging, revisit your copyright policy and update it to ensure it continues to represent your policy on the use of your content. Remember, ASK FIRST before using other people’s content. They might say yes. And fight for copyright protection and education so we all learn to ask first.
  3. It’s All About ME ME ME: Too many people treat a blog like a scrapbook or notebook, keeping track of things they find on the web that they want to remember. That’s rubbish. If you are using your blog as a giant notebook, make it private. The Publish button on blog software is there for a reason. It’s about publishing. It’s about being read. It’s about being found. It’s about being quoted. It’s about the readers. It’s about the conversations. Treat the publish button with the respect it deserves. If you treat your blog like a scrapbook, make it one that will appeal to all those with similar interests – and you might learn even more about the notes you make.
  4. Categories are Your Table of Contents. Tags are the Index Words: I don’t know why categories and tags are so confusing to people. It is based upon book publishing. Categories are the table of contents for your blog. They define your blog’s content and purpose and should be keywords and search terms. Categories are not a place to use creative terminology, just words people use to search for that content on the web.Tags are the index words and they are post specific. A post about a recipe for salad can be in the Cooking, Salad, Vegetarian, or Recipe category and tag words would be cooking, salad, greens, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, salad dressing, raisins, and the ingredients in the salad. Someone searching for salad recipes may find your blog post, but if they want to dig a little deeper and only find recipes associated with lettuce, a topic you have some posts about but not enough to qualify for a post category, they can click the tag link for lettuce and find related content. You’ve just won a fan by helping them get the information they need.
    Tags got special recognition a few years ago as a new concept in categorizing and uncovering related content moving away from the traditional search engine concept. It failed. You don’t get bonus points for having tags on your blogs. Think of them only as navigation tools that increase a blog’s usability.
  5. Everything You Publish is Forever: Once you hit publish, there is no going back. It’s there. Forever. Within seconds, pings are sent out, search engines come back and cache (save) the content. Your server backs it up. People read it. Aggregators collect it. It’s there. Out there. Forever. You can’t undo what you’ve done, so write accordingly.
  6. Be Timely or Timeless: There are two types of blog content: timely and timeless. Timely content is news, information that applies to the right now. Timeless content lasts a long time, garnering visitors over the long haul not the short term Timely content blogging means writing fast, to be the first out the door with the news. If you can’t be one of the first out, then think about how you can turn timely content into timeless content so you can add more value to the words than just “here is the latest news.” Think about the subject. Look at it from different angles. Add your voice, your opinion, to the voices of the others to help continue the conversation, not just report it. Anyone can parrot the news, why not be one who expounds upon it? And enjoy the traffic you may get for years to come.
  7. It’s My Blog, You Can’t Tell Me! Yes, it is your blog. It’s yours to do what you will with it, but don’t break web standards in order to prove to the world that you are right. You aren’t right by trying to throw out the sidebar navigation links. You aren’t right by doing away with the header and putting your blog title and purpose information in the footer. Work within the standards that have been established as to what makes a blog work. Sure, push the envelop. We need new innovative thinkers and designers. However, be prepared to be snapped back in place if it backfires. Learn the rules first before you break them. They are there for good reasons. Usabilities studies prove this out over and over again. Yes, it’s your blog and you can do with it what you want, but remember blogging carries with it a responsibility: Blogs are for the readers, not the bloggers. Put your readers first in all the design decisions you make with your blog.
  8. As you blog, your definition of success will change. At first, it’s about the numbers, the score card of visitors to your blog. In time, it’s about the comments, how many comments, how many posts got comments, or didn’t – counting up the comments. Then it’s about the trackbacks. Who is linking today? What are they saying about what I wrote? How many are linking to my blog post? Then you chase after attention through the social networking and site submission services, getting people to “digg” your blog post and submit it everywhere. None of these are true measures of success but metrics we use to judge our work. Cumulatively, they represent a measure of our success, but individually, they are just things that happen naturally in the flow of a blog’s life.

    Later, the joy will come in the writing, the development of the work, and the reward of one person who says they enjoyed it and learned a lot, but it takes time to figure out what your definition of blogging success is. Don’t use other people’s metrics. Find your own joy in your blogging – and don’t let anyone tell you differently

Today’s Assignment

Based on Lorelle’s answer, do you see any mistakes you’re making?

If so, how will you correct them?

Photo Credit: Lorelle’s Logo

Anyone who has followed my blogging journey, knows Lorelle VanFossen (of Lorelle on WordPress) is whom I often turn to when I have questions about WordPress and/or blogging. She has been my blogging “rock”, and like so many others, I tagged her as “Queen of WordPress”.

I am humbled and honored that Lorelle granted me an interview. I chose to ask her questions that would not only help me, but the BWAB community as well. She answered eight questions from which I have created a series.

Lorelle took great care in responding to my questions. Read carefully, as her answers hold value for all bloggers.

Let’s get started:

The Interview

Thanks again, Barbara, for taking time out to talk to me and for being such a loyal supporter. It means so much to me to know that there are people like you out there, showing the world that it is a great place to live and friends are everywhere. Thank you for that.

1) Blogging Without A Blog (BWAB) caters to new bloggers. Since most blogs do not make it past month four, what advice can you give a new blogger to help them stay motivated to continue blogging?

Month four? Wow, I thought they didn’t make it past the first week. 😀 Kidding. Sort of. Sigh.

I’m always puzzled at why people thinking blogging is different from any other hobby or job. Motivation to keep blogging is no different from anything you do. If you don’t find job pride and satisfaction within the work, you never will.

Blogging is like assembly line work, and not. You have to keep producing content, not as often as most people think, but frequently and on a regular schedule. Not because search engines will love you more, or most of the reasons you hear, but because you want people to trust you and reply upon you. You want them to depend on you. We like it when people show up on time and in a regular manner. So it goes with blogging.

Blogging is also about creativity, finding new things to write about – or the same old things written in new and interesting ways. I blog about blogging. You would think that after all these years, I’d be bored blogging about blogging. After all, there is only so much you can say about blogging, right? Then why is it you and so many others are blogging about blogging, too? There must be something of interest and value to support myself, you, and the many others out there in this saturated market.

Choose a subject that has long term interest, and you will have a never ending source of inspiration for story ideas. The motivation will be there naturally.

If your topic is narrow, and you run out of things to say, then stop. If your topic is too big, you will burn out just because you have little focus. You can’t blog about everything and anything. There is just too much. Still, there is a middle area there worth exploring.

One of the best ways to stay motivated is to have a plan – a long term plan. I’m always working off an editorial calendar covering two years ahead. I write for a variety of blogs and have to plan what I write about so I don’t overlap stories, but also to connect them occasionally together by content and theme. I keep a running list of article ideas in a text file on my computer, one for each blog, so I always have an idea or three waiting there in the wings if my brain locks up. I set goals, story ideas, and themes way in advance so I’m always working towards something and not hunting for things to write about in the instant, though that does happen occasionally.

Blogging is no different than any work. You set goals, you make plans, you stay focused and disciplined, and you show up. If blogging isn’t working for you, find something else to do. Not everyone is meant to blog – but for those who stick around, it’s fantastic, isn’t it?

Today’s Assignment

Based on Lorelle’s answer, do you feel any different about your niche, or lack thereof?

Do you have a long term plan for your blogging activity?

Photo Credit: Lorelle’s Logo

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