Sometimes, when you know you’re supposed to do something and you don’t feel like it, you’ll get a little sign that confirms that you need to do it.
I know the benefits of having a blog: You have the opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise, and you can connect with other people with similar interests. Having a blog is useful because, as speaker and entrepreneur Michael Hyatt says, a blog is your “home base”. In comparison to your social media networks (which Hyatt identifies as your “embassies”), you can have a consistent presence, but those networks can disappear at any time. Your blog will always remain (unless you don’t renew your hosting.)
But some of the gripes I have about blogging are the same gripes everyone else has: Not having the time, being consistent, not knowing what to write about, the fear of others not agreeing with your stance, not getting any comments (or getting too many trolling comments), or the idea that no one will read it.
Between social work, evaluation, and reproductive justice, there’s plenty I could write about, but at times it feels like a chore! I’m too embarrassed to admit to the number of times I started writing a blog post, and decided to close my MacBook and take a nap instead.
So, what have I’ve done in the past (that I know I need to start back doing) to help me step up my blogging game when I’d rather be doing something else? Here are my tips:
Make a list for inspiration- Some call it an editorial calendar. In fact, I used to literally take a calendar template, list the month and the dates, and add what topic I would write about and in which week. Now, I just use the Notes app on my iPhone. I type in different ideas, including potential titles and some notes that I want to remember to add to the blog post. I currently have 12 potential blog post ideas, with four of them (including this post) already designated for this month. That’s 3 months of blog content!
Keep track of what you’ve already written (and write an update)- This ties into my first tip. In my Blog Archives, I’ve included past blog posts arranged by topic. Having a blog archives is useful because all of your blogs are in one place, plus they can provide inspiration for creating a new blog post as a follow-up to an old post.
Respond to readers’ questions- I also have a Ask Nicole series located in my Resources & Blog Archives, where I’ve taken emails from readers and subscribers from my Raise Your Voice community and answered them publicly (with the permission of my readers), often because of the frequency in which I’m asked certain questions.
Create a series- In the past, I’ve created blog series on program evaluation for organizations that work with women and girls of color, different types of activism, and also how to plan, facilitate and evaluate a workshop. You take a topic, and break it down into smaller components. If you blog weekly, you can post a different component of the topic every week. Want to blog 5 days a week for a series? Take a topic and break it up into 5 components and post them Monday through Friday. Because you already have the topic for the following post planned, let your readers know what to expect for the next post. This is a great way to not only give you inspiration, but it keeps your readers coming back.
Get personal- When I’ve gotten personal on my blog, I noticed something: other people related to it! Do it with discretion, of course. If I share something personal about myself, it’s always related to what my blog is about. If you decide to go this route, make sure that it ties back into what your blog (and business) is about. If all I blogged about what social work, and then I post a personal blog completely unrelated to my blog content, it looks disjointed, and your readers are left wondering, “Why did she write that?”
Don’t be afraid to lose people along the way- As you become clear in your business and with your blog, your focus may shift, which can mean a loss in readership as well as a gain in a new audience. Admittedly, I was nervous in making the transition from writing solely about activism and reproductive justice to including social work and program evaluation. In the end, I’ve been able to connect to other social workers and evaluators because of the shift I made. And wouldn’t you know that the activist readers that remain are learning a little bit about social work and program evaluation, too.