By day I work 60 hour weeks. At night I am a devoted father and husband to the world's greatest family. Somewhere in the non-existent time between the two, I am a writer. Join me from the beginning as I chronicle my adventures to become a successful published author.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Day 61 - Braintstorming on Blogging - Self Improvement

In many ways, I feel my blog and my writing has stalled. I hate to say it, but I am being completely honest. I'm not talking about in gaining followers. I've done pretty well for being around about 60 days and having been a complete unknown. I'm talking about motivation and depth in general.

When I began this blog, my posts were longer and had greater detail. Writing Wednesday had a theme. Monday Musings were legitimate. Recently however, I feel my posts have not only been too short, but essentially without substance.

My writing in general has suffered also. I write a lot less. I still write daily, but the drive has diminished. I have great ideas for continuing, but let them lay so I can do other things or because it's simply too late in the day. In looking to balance my writing with my personal and work life, I seem to have swung too far the other way. I went from spending too much time at the wrong time to spending hardly any.

Further, I feel that aside from regaining the quality of earlier posts, it's time to evaluate traffic statistics on what gains the most interest, and also look at adding a few more features and ideas.

So something has to change, and I have several thoughts. Some will add work. Most will reduce it while creating a higher quality product. While this blog is in part to help me keep going and record my journey to being published, I also feel that it has the potential to become a mainstay stop for many people looking to read a specific days' feature. I know, it may sound a bit grandiose, but what can I say... I like thinking big and I like creating something I believe in and would want to read/buy/visit myself. It's why I do well in start-up companies and areas where I have portfolios of clients.

 Brainstorming then, I'm going to list off randomly what pops into my head (some of which admittedly been running around for a while up in the empty recesses between by ears). Let me know if you like any of them and which ones the most. Also, some involve other people, so let me know if you want to participate in them:

  • Collaborative Efforts
    • Guest Bloggers. A guest blog a week. Can be from other bloggers, authors, random people off the street... okay, maybe not the last one unless they are really interesting! I realized that I like guest blog posts done well. In most cases it would have a theme that would be changing over time, but in some instances it would be free topic.
    • Podcasts. I've mentioned audio and possibly video podcasts. I think that time is fast approaching. I love podcasts! More than that though, I think it would be better if it was with one or two other people and we did it together. Probably once a week, keep it short (10-30 minutes average). Maye it will grow over time, maybe it will bomb, but it will be fun.
  • Add a Topic Calendar -i.e., Monday: Monday Musings, Tuesday: Author Interviews, etc. Make it look nice, make it semi prominent. A read can click on any of the days and be taken to a list of all the posts for that series.
  • Writing Wisdom: I liked it when it had the series of Morals in Writing. I think series within a theme is a great idea, and I plan to operate that and perhaps another day as mini-series with a few one-offs in between. Are there any topics you would like to see?
  • Switch topics to different days: obviously, this will be affected when I switch some daily themes out for new ones, but I think the important part is ensuring that hot topics are on busy blog days, whereas the freebie day (I feel like I have three currently, but will reduce it to one, though guest blogging will improve that on the other end) should be on the day when fewest people read (probably a Saturday or Sunday). 
  • Advanced planning. With more structure, I can better prepare posts ahead of time and improve their quality. To assist in this, I need to set a few minutes aside in the morning, maybe 15 minutes, before heading out to work. Then if I have a rough day, it's not as big of a deal.
It is my belief that by adding structure I can bother better manage my time and improve quality. I am open to other thoughts you may have, so comment away!


I'm struggling with a similar question. I think you have some fun ideas here.

I also think that shorter posts aren't so bad. Take one long post and turn it into a series of shorter posts that way you can delve into each of the sub-parts more fully. If people are interested in that topic, then you will see more steady traffic during the series.

That's a great list of ideas--thanks. This is something I need right now too. When I think about the blogs I like to go to, I like posts that are short and to the point. I also like to see pictures or graphics that add interest to the content.

So much to think about, Matt. Good luck deciding what to do. =D

I usually post 2-3 times a week (sometimes more if there's a reason for it). I only have a theme (just recently, in fact) on Fridays with my grammar posts.

Like Canda, I love pictures. Elana Johnson suggested lost of white space. A lot people have limited time to check a lot of blogs. If we're too wordy, they only have time to skim at most.

Hey Matt! It's great that you take your blogging seriously and want to figure out how to best make it work for you and your readers!

My thoughts:

Podcasts could be fun! That's very different, so you'd have a nice open niche there.

Guest posts, writing advice and collaborative efforts might be harder to sell. Guest posts and collaborative efforts can be fun, but inevitably detract from YOUR personality on the blog and what you're selling here is YOU. You don't want to upstage yourself, kwim? And there are plenty of experienced/published writers/bloggers out there who are giving writing advice--I'd generally stay clear of that unless you have something truly interesting, unique or worthwhile to add.

What *I* think makes for a terrific blog is sincerity. Let your readers get to know YOU. It doesn't have to be overly intrusive or anything, but use this opportunity to showcase YOU. Not your advice on writing, but your viewpoints, hopes, fears, accomplishments, etc.

Make your posts brief (500 words or less ~ this has been echoed by other big bloggers like LiLa Roecker and Elana Johnson). Personally, with over 100 blogs to read a day, I rarely stay to read (and therefore comment) if a post looks overly long. I just don't have the time.

I think a blog schedule is an excellent idea, though. Especially once you've established some interesting features, like podcasts (if you do those). People will come to anticipate them and want to return.

Good luck to you!

Ali, thanks for your input!

In terms of giving advice, I am staying mostly away from things like how to write a query letter. Instead I am focusing more on the philosophical, such as morals in writing, how technology affects us, things like that. As for guest bloggers... it's an idea for when I need a vacation, but not a regular event.:-) I think your input on all of it is spot on though.

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