Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

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 – Day 1

February 1, 2011

So why the challenge?

One of my goals for 2011 is to increase the frequency of my blogs to at least one a week. (See How smart are SMART goals for more on this.)

I chose the 28 Day Challenge approach to develop the habit of blogging and to explore writing styles. I’ve heard said that if you do something on a daily basis for 21 days, it becomes a habit. The extra 7 days is about embedding this habit! So for the month of February I will be blogging about a range of topics on a daily basis. Notice how I said there, “… I will be …” rather than “I will try to”!

As setting goals is a key part of what I do with clients, I have naturally been working on the detail of this goal … the benefits, what the outcome will look/feel like, staying motivated, time scales, etc. These are some of the kinds of things I will also be including in my blogging programme, where relevant. Other topics include:

  • responses and outcomes from my recent goal setting survey (including comments on obstacles to achieving goals)
  • a focus on coaching: International Coaching Week starts in the UK on 7th Feb, so for that week there will be blogs around general coaching elements/themes
  • a look at coaching in schools, currently my main focus for work
  • weekly updates, every Saturday, reviewing my progress towards my goal
  • plus some miscellaneous topics that take my fancy!

I am looking forward to this challenge, what I will learn, how it will test and develop me, to see if my writing style and attitude towards blogging changes. As part of this learning process I also welcome your comments about the blogs (the style as well as the content). As I head off on this journey, I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s taken a similar path and what you found along the way.

(Photo courtesy of Salvatore Vuono)

Ever tried blog-ironing?

May 1, 2010

So what is “Blog-ironing”? Well for me it’s the same as blog-hoovering, blog-dusting/cleaning, blog-gardening …. in fact blog-anything that doesn’t involve much thought, and where you have the time and mental space to think of things other than what you’re doing.

I’ve sat down many times at my computer with the intention of thinking of content for my first (and subsequent) blogs only to find I go blank. Yet when I engage in something like ironing, I find my mind wandering off and being creative.

So now when I set up the ironing board, get out the hoover, or gardening gloves, I also make sure I have a pen and notebook to hand, so I can capture anything creative or thoughtful ideas before they disappear. Not all of them will end up as a blog, I’m sure.

Perhaps it’s also something to do with being quite kinaesthetic. I learn better when I am doing things.

To anyone reading this who “blogs”, I am interested to hear how you get yourself into a blogging-mindset. Where does your inspiration and/or motivation come from? Do you open up a bottle, ensure an inspiring view, put on your favourite music, wait for events to come along to write about, or create them? Perhaps it’s a combination of the above, or something else.