Posts Tagged ‘blog writing’

28 Day Blog Challenge Learnings

March 3, 2011

YES! I’ve achieved my 28 Day Blog Challenge and it’s time to celebrate!

But before I do this, I always like to look back at what I’ve learned.

My learnings …

I have a Blog chair!

When you compose a blog, do you sit at your computer, do you vary where you write, or do you have a favourite place in your house or office?

During my blog challenge the place where I was most productive …. where ideas flew more readily …. was my blog chair. It’s comfortable and cosy, a bit old and tattered, and offers few distractions. When I’ve tried composing directly on to my WordPress blog, I can be distracted by checking emails / tweets, etc. So for future blog writing sessions, I will resort to my blog chair!

I must admit, though, there were times when the ideas weren’t flowing and I’ve have to resort to blog ironing!

Was it a challenge?

Definitely! I started out quite well prepared, but as the month rolled on my posts were coming out later in the day. A lot of this was to do with working around other commitments (e.g. clients), and it did mean some other things didn’t happen (e.g. not tweeting as much!) It definitely made me more focused, and my time to write blogs did get shorter.

Accountability

Publishing something on a daily basis which other people can / will read ranks up the accountability factor! I was not only accountable to myself, but potentially to anyone expecting to see a post each day. At times, this definitely helped to keep the momentum going.

What about the benefits?

In one of my first blogs during the challenge I identified some potential benefits to achieving the goal. Having completed the challenge I can now say:

  • I definitely feel more confident writing blogs
  • I don’t think my writing style has really changed over the course of the challenge, but at the moment I am happy with what I’m producing
  • Research into some of the blog topics has further developed my subject knowledge
  • From reading more blogs by other people, and getting into dialogue in the comments section, I have learned more about what people like to read and discuss
  • In terms of adding value, I can only say that I’ve had some positive comments, been invited to guest blog, and some of the posts have been featured in online newsletters

Next steps

It’s an ongoing process! My original blogging goal was to developing my blog writing skills and frequency of posts, delivering weekly posts as a minimum by the end of March. I now plan to write 2 posts a week to see how much of what I’ve learned I can retain and maintain!

If you have managed to follow me through this challenge, I hope you found it interesting / relevant 🙂 Thanks also to those who passed on positive comments and encouragement via Twitter, etc. It was much appreciated!

(Photo courtesy of Keattikorn)

Learning blogging from others

February 20, 2011

28 Day Blog Challenge – Day 20

Improving blog writing skills, for me, is not only about the “just do it” philosophy. It’s about research.

Since I started blogging I’ve been interested in other people’s blogs … how often they blog, their writing style, their general content, use of graphics, how many comments they get, etc. One of my actions during my 28 Day Blog Challenge has been to spend more time on research.

So far, my wanderings have usually taken me down the path of blogs within my own field of work; personal development, leadership, education, and business development. I’m getting more of an idea what I like to read about, the styles of presentation I prefer, and length of blog post I’m willing to spend time on. (NB The latter can also be dependent on how interesting the subject matter is!)

I keep reading how important it is to have a plan with your blog. This makes total sense for me, being in the field I’m in. So the shorter-term goal for the research is to come up with a blogging policy to help me formulate blogs in the future.

In  the meantime, here are some of the conclusions I’ve come to ….

1. Paragraph size If the paragraphs look too long it would put me off starting to read it, unless it’s a topic I’m really interested in and I have the time. I usually know when I visit Dan Rockwell‘s blog or Louise B-J‘s that I won’t have to struggle through lots of long paragraphs.

2. Clean look and feel When I arrive at a blog site/page I like to see space around the posts, rather than having to spend time searching to find where things start and finish. White space is best for readability (see Steve Riege) but I’ve also seen some that manage the clean look without being white.

3. Clearly identified Once I arrive at a blog, I want to see the post I’ve been directed towards (or the latest post), and not be distracted by adverts. There’s nothing wrong with using adverts, but I’d rather they don’t overpower the page.

4. Taking a peek! I also like the blog sites where you can see snippets of blogs, such as Tyrell Mara‘s, Craig Jarrow‘s or Vicki Berry‘s.

5. Visually pleasing Relevant content is #1 for me, but I’m very ‘visual’ and am drawn to blogs that are aesthetically pleasing! Monster Thinking‘s blog comes quite close. Blogs don’t always need to contain pictures, but if there’s one that can add to the content, I prefer it.

I’m still no expert and am continuing to learn from others, so I’d love to hear your experience / expertise on this area.

What do you look for in a good blog?

Does your own blog reflect your preferences?

Do you have a blogging plan? How useful have you found it?


(Photo courtesy of Renjith Krishnan)

28 Day Blog Challenge Review – Part 3

February 19, 2011

Welcome to Day 19 of my 28 Day Blog Challenge, and my third ‘Saturday goal review’

The pattern for posting this week has generally been to write the blog on the day of posting. Although still happy with posts I’m sending out, it has meant they have gone out later in the day than previous weeks. I started to develop a feeling of ‘getting behind’, but not panicking! This has made me determined to get next week’s blogs planned in advance – in outline, as least.

I’ve had some lovely feedback on some of this week’s postings, so I going to continue with my current plans for now. However, one of the things I wanted to do during this challenge was continue to read other people’s blogs, review what I liked about them, and help this to hone my own style. So tomorrow’s blog focus will be to share some thoughts on other blogs I like and why.

Until then ….!

(Photo courtesy of Salvatore Vuono)

It’s all about good preparation

February 2, 2011

Welcome to Day 2 of my 28 Day Blog Challenge …

As well as applying the SMART process to my original blog goal, I wanted to add something more, to make it more exciting, more of a challenge.  As my SMART blog shows, there are other questions I wanted to answer to give me the greatest chance of success:

1. What values does this goal support? – being challenged is important to me, as is personal growth

2. What are the benefits of achieving this goal? – greater confidence with writing; developing a different style of writing; developing a more focused writing style; improving my own subject knowledge; learning from others; adding value …

3. What new skills / knowledge will achieving it give me? – extended knowledge from researching my blog topics; writing skills mentioned above; focused time management for blogging in the future

4. What else could it lead to? – being invited to ‘Guest blog’; writing articles; writing my first book!

5. What will my reward(s) be for achieving it? – other than reward in itself for achieving the goal, I will take time out and spend a day walking in the Derbyshire Dales

Now the ‘nitty gritty’ … the detail

The first question I asked myself was, “How do I find the material?” I don’t know whether this is something you would associate with or not. Initially I used it as a bit of an excuse for not starting something like this, but after dabbling in writing a few blogs I decided to brainstorm some topics. I started with topics which reflected the coaching and training work I do with my clients, and as I started to write, a spider’s web of ideas started to emerge. They were initially just headings, but at least I was getting started. (What gets in the way of progress is inaction – you need to start somewhere.)

I then talked to my coach, who was a regular blogger, and discussed the definition of a blog. This would answer part of the “How will I know when I’ve achieved my goal?” question. The conclusion I came to was to read other people’s blogs, start reading around what more experienced bloggers felt made a good blog, and get a feel for what styles I liked to read and how I might want my blog to look. (This is still being researched and I will continued to do this over the next 27 days – and beyond!) So far I’ve discovered length of blog and content does vary quite a lot between bloggers, which I think is not a bad thing; what I need to do during this Challenge is develop my own style.

My research also helped me conclude that there will always be material to blog about. This will come about as a result of:

  • continuing developments within my business
  • finding different ways to talk about a given topic
  • relevant news topics
  • changes and developments within coaching
  • new case studies, etc….

So my preparation can now be summarised as:

  1. identifying a goal and applying SMART, plus answering some of the more ‘meaty’ questions
  2. research around my goal area
  3. overcoming my initial obstacle about content

Further practicalities …

I’ve now decided on my topics; I am writing the first week’s worth of blogs in outline before I start, and I have identified hourly slots in my daily work diary to firm these up and for future blogs. Time will tell how effective my plans are; I will regularly review my progress and make any necessary tweaks as I go along. (Look out for my Saturday updates!)