Please stop doing . . . what? I'll get to that very shortly.
First, a disclaimer: I’m not writing this as an expert blogger. I am writing it as a consumer of blogs. I echo what was once said by Carolyn Rubenstein: “writing is itself a profound teacher”. You see, I write in order to learn. I also read in order to learn . . . I curate in order to learn . . . and like so many others these days I sometimes skim.
But regardless of my mode of intake, there is only so much absorption that can take place. So what if you think your mind is the equivalent of a human sponge? Even the largest sponge eventually becomes full (unless of course you wring it out).
So, if you haven’t already guessed, here’s what I would like for bloggers to stop. Please stop publishing posts that have an absurd amount of information, and lists that are the equivalent of an undoable to do list.
A Twitter post just yesterday promised a list of “212 Blog Post Ideas” to help with “writer’s block”. My first observation is that claiming that this kind of a list will help with writers block is a little like saying that the answer to procrastination is to craft as long of a to-do list as you can. However, I am also pleased to report that this Tweet overpromised. There were not 212 Blog Post Ideas – only 55 of them.
But that is still too many.
So here are five personal guidelines that I have created for myself, plus a bonus sixth item that is not really a guideline but more of an immutable law. The goal is to increase the volume of original writing while keeping it relevant and actionable.
Have only one core topic for a post. Not two. Not three. If you have more than one topic, you should be writing multiple posts. After all, especially if you are challenged with writer’s block, you want to make the most of those multiple ideas.
Have no more than 10 actionable recommendations within a post. And even this may be too many. The people for whom you are writing are presumably busy. They are also increasingly overwhelmed with content . . . too much content. Actually, I think that between five and seven is the perfect balance.
Make lists shorter. Instead of striving for the ultimate big list encompassing all possible options, serve your audience better by providing a more limited list of options that you can personally recommend.
Create new ideas for blog posts based on reader interest. You know your audience, right? Right? If not, start listening to them. Because the best source of subjects for your posts are your readers – your audience and/or desired audience. What are their needs, their challenges, their questions and their interests? What information or advice can you give them that will help them?
Never over-promise. Or to word it slightly differently, never disappoint your readers.
The sixth bonus item – that immutable law? Write. And write. And write some more. Write every single day if you can, even if only briefly. Sorry to be so simplistic, but the best way to cure writer’s block is to sit down and write something. Your writing skills involve mental and emotional muscles that need to be trained and exercised.
NONPROFITS TAKEAWAY: Don’t make content marketing and social media more complicated than necessary. And don’t become overwhelmed by monster lists of tips and tricks and tools. Make communication and engagement a priority, start small and grow (but start and keep at it), and get help when you need it.
Tweet me with any comments or questions @JohnHornbeck1