Not Your Father’s Blog Guide, Part 1: Dare to be Dumb
From time to time, we like to get a little bit meta here a Deep Core Data; we have a blog, and sometimes, we talk about blogging. As I’ve said in the past, blogging is an important and effective marketing tool, and adding new pages helps keep your website fresh in the eyes of Google.
Unfortunately, one of the down-sides to blogging is that you have to maintain a consistent schedule, and sometimes it’s difficult to come up with new ideas. Or maybe you need stock images or infographics, and you don’t have the capital to spend on big name websites like Shutterstock or Getty Images.
Not to worry! The Deep Core Data blog will have been running for two years come May, and we’ve stockpiled a collection of resources to share with you.
1. What Do I Write?
Coming up with fresh ideas week after week is definitely the bane of my blogging existence. While I could certainly write about new or current technology every week, I do like to keep a bit of variety in my topics. Plus, since we’re a weekly blog, we can very easily get behind when it comes to new releases, and being late to the party is DEFINITELY not an effective blogging strategy. And don’t even get me started on that whole “ask your coworkers for ideas” philosophy; it might be easier to herd cats.
So how do I keep coming up with fresh new ideas all the time?
Sometimes, the problem is that you have too many ideas and not enough time to write them all.
One thing to keep in mind is what kind of blog post I want to write. While all blog posts are ultimately meant to be informative, the format in which that information is conveyed may vary greatly. And some formats attract more clicks than others. You might notice that we compile a lot of lists around here, for example. Think about which formats you’re comfortable writing in, and which ones your audience want to read. Don’t know what that looks like? Google some of the topics you write about, and see which formats the most popular blogs take.
Now, while coming up with a format may help give you some direction, it still doesn’t help you land a topic. For that, you might have to do a bit of digging, such as researching the competition, or scouring the internet for ideas. Quora is a great repository of questions in need of answering, and you can easily cross-post answers or link back to your blog. Take to your social media and see which articles are trending, or even which ones you want to read.
2. Writing What You Don’t Know
As it turns out, despite working for a tech company, I don’t actually know a lot about the latest technology. My background is in writing and graphic design, so when we starts getting into the guts of a technological situation, I often find myself in over my head. Technical jargon and numbers and acronyms start getting tossed around, and I’m like a ship in a hurricane, trying desperately to stay afloat.
As it turns out, it’s not an uncommon problem in the less technical parts of the tech industry, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it applies to other industries as well. But even if I don’t have a strong background in a topic, I can’t just make it up and spread false information. So how do you blog about topics you’re not well-versed in?
One thing to keep in mind is that outside of a how-to, most blog posts aren’t going to go super deep into the nitty gritty. After all, a good blog post shouldn’t be too much longer than 1,500 words; too much more than that, and you risk losing your audience. It’s not a lot of space to go into detail, but more than enough to give a good overview.
Most people don’t even want to read industry jargon. They want to read stories. Think about it; when reading a blog post, are you really looking for a lecture-level analysis of a topic? While everyone’s different, you’re more than likely looking at them for entertainment, to be more informed on a subject, or to look for solutions to a problem. You want something you can read quickly and easily, and walk away feeling like you understand the topic. The more technical information comes from forums, support guides, and detailed whitepapers. So don’t sweat the details, and focus on the overall message you’re trying to send.
And of course, do your research. We live in the information age, after all; there are plenty of resources available to fill all the gaps that you may have in your knowledge, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use them. Go back to Quora and look at what people are asking about the topic. Check your industry’s main news sources and social media accounts. Odds are, if you can think it, it’s been asked. Your job is to find a way to present the information in a new and insightful way.
You don’t have to be an expert to write about a subject; you just have to be an expert at doing research.
These two ideas are going to help you get to building the basis and content of your quality blog post. Check back next week, where we’ll delve more into the post-writing process; be warned, there will be zombies.