September 9, 2011
Content may be king, but to torture a metaphor somewhat, even the most brilliant crown can grow tarnished. Generating good content isn’t always an easy thing, and it requires a great deal of effort to avoid getting into rote postings and halfhearted content that isn’t of the quality a blog and its audience deserve.
A lot already has been written about the common mistakes bloggers can make. Text walls, keyword cipher content, bland posts on stuff that’s been covered before — these things are not good. But simply pointing out what not to do isn’t very helpful. After all, anyone can “not do” certain things. But as any fiction writer worth the name will say, listing and focusing on all the things one isn’t going to do results in one not doing anything at all. There has to be a positive focus and some manner of a goal. To that end, what are some of the things bloggers can do to keep their content fresh and interesting?
Step 1 — Alternate Angles
Keeping content interesting doesn’t necessarily always involve doing something completely and utterly unrelated. It can, instead, involve taking a new approach to the tried-and-true material at hand, and coming at it from a new direction that brings together previous posts in a different way.
For example, consider a blog focused on consumer advocacy and customers’ rights. The main focus of the blog could be on specific instances of consumer abuse, such as dangerous products or other examples of corporate irresponsibility. This is an example of a highly-specialized blog with a narrow intent.
However, posting all the time about corporate abuses might get disheartening — both to the writer and the reader — so the blogger should try introducing a post series on corporate hijinks that are more hilarious than harmful. A practical example of this is the Cake Wrecks blog; while the main content is specifically focused on truly terrible cake designs, the blog also features a “Sunday Sweets” post series focusing on cakes done particularly well.
Step 2 — Fresh Faces
There is a lot of debate in the blogging community about the value of guest posters. Without going into all the assorted arguments, the fact is that if a blogger trusts someone enough to let them submit a post for publication, it can be a valuable tool for a number of reasons.
Guest posters offer several opportunities for the experienced blogger. They can establish networking options between the audiences of the respective writers, particularly if drawn between blogs. If drawn from the comments section, they can give the blog audience something to aspire to and more reason to become active with the blog. In the special event that a blogger can get a big name in the field to write a post, the credibility and prestige of the blog generally benefits as well.
Step 3 — Cause Crusades
Many of the more successful blogs touch on some manner of major social issues. Consumer advocacy, personal rights, political freedoms — each of these topics is the subject of major discourse in the world at large. Many people in a blogger’s audience probably want to do something to help out with a cause, but they aren’t sure how. They might not know how to check out a nonprofit’s credentials the way a savvy fundraising blogger might, or might not know specific organizations related to their personal cause of choice.
Blogs are a great force in the field of micro-transaction fundraising. If a blog has even 5,000 followers and can convince them to donate 50 cents apiece on average, that translates to $2,500 in real dollars raised. That money can pay for quite a few things, be it advertising space, medical procedures or even a research grant for a small lab doing vital inquiry. As an example, consider the success of Penny Arcade, which leveraged its extensive comic and blog audience’s goodwill to create a charity dedicated to giving sick children as many games and reading materials as they could. It’s one of the fastest growing charities in history, and started as “just an idea.”
Step 4 — Evading Ennui
Sometimes there isn’t any way to get around the fact that a specific topic is played out. Be it the activities of a certain politician, a specific corporate scandal or even a general topic such as free speech, people eventually get tired of writing and reading the same material. Sometimes no new news stories come up, or there isn’t any fresh information to cover.
In such cases, it’s perfectly acceptable to switch topics. Perhaps the topic change need not be exceptionally drastic. Consider the earlier example of a consumer advocacy blog. Perhaps there simply are no new or funny stories to cover that won’t seem boring or rehashed. This might be the time to discuss the theory of the blog, the “why” angle behind the matter. Our blogger could write a post explaining his or her personal experiences with corporate indifference, or discuss the good that consumer advocacy has done for people in the past.
Other times, the change could be as drastic as can be. Maybe a blogger just enjoys a particular band or bit of music, and writes an entirely personal post sharing the music and how they came to love it. The readers get a personal connection, and the blogger can let his mind work on the big problems again.
Enzo F. Cesario is an online branding specialist and co-founder of Brandsplat, a digital content agency. Brandsplat creates blogs, articles, videos and social media in the “voice” of our client’s brand. It makes sites more findable and brands more recognizable. For the free Brandcasting Report go to http://www.BrandSplat.com/ or visit our blog at http://www.iBrandCasting.com/