Full Circle Communications

May 2012
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past issues
Is this useful?

There's more.

past issues on such topics as design tips for writers and speechwriting.

ease in writing?
"Ease in writing" comes from a poem by Alexander Pope, the British poet:

True ease in writing comes from art, not chance,
As those move easiest who have learn'd to dance.

Note he (and I) didn't say "easy writing." But just as dance lessons can help get you around the floor more gracefully, the goal for this newsletter is to share a tip or two to improve your writing.

Building Better Blogs

Blogging puzzle
How many blogs have you started and not kept up? If you're like me, the answer is a few over the years. I have a good idea, write a few posts, don't get any comments, and then allow other things in life take over.

I talked to two bloggers about how it should be done. Ray Sidney-Smith, W3 Consulting, helps businesses and organizations use web and digital technology better, including blogs. Patrick Ross, in addition to writing The Artist's Road, teaches a course on blogging at the Writer's Center in Bethesda.

This month, I'll share what they told me about creating good content. It's not everything there is to know about blogging, of course, but I share a few particularly "a-ha!" points. Next month, I'll focus on ideas to boost readership and engagement.

Showing Yourself, Telling a Story

One suggestion from both Ross and Sidney-Smith surprised me: the importance of vulnerability.

What have you been struggling with? What is a challenge you've had to overcome? A lesson learned? That's the kind of compelling content that interests readers.

Corporate blogs, in particular, are often so rah-rah that they're just another form of a press release. For example, instead of a post about how widely successful your last event was, what about a post about how you dealt with attracting attendees on a Sunday night or choosing entertainment that fit your budget?

This does not mean dissecting every failure and weakness, nor spilling every secret into cyberspace.

As Ross noted when I met him at a meeting of the Capitol Creativity Network, vulnerability is important in blogging, but you still control how much of yourself to show. Sidney-Smith agreed, "You should be honest, but don't go overboard."

We know the importance of narrative in writing strong prose. Ross explained what that means for blogging. Every story begins with dialogue with yourself, he said. Invite the reader into that dialogue--what have you been thinking about? What have you been thinking? He said he started "The Artist's Road" literally to travel and interview artists. But the posts that have proven the most popular center on his own thoughts and experiences.

Planning It Out

Both Ross and Sidney-Smith warned against jumping in to start a blog. Plan out the content and get in the habit of posting before you commit. Since, as Ross put it, "a blog is as good as your worst post," make sure you have it down.

Sidney-Smith advises would-be bloggers to set up an editorial calendar and write 5 to 10 weeks worth of posts in advance. He breaks down the process into six steps:
  • Brainstorm
  • Research
  • Organize and outline
  • Draft
  • Edit
  • Publish

Brainstorm or research a few posts at a time, he suggested, to build up an inventory. Think ahead to seasonal themes that affect your organization.

Ross advised blogging for a while without publishing the posts. Not only will you experiment with finding your voice and getting into a blogging habit, you'll have a stockpile of posts to draw from when you do go online.

Reviving a Moribund Blog

This gets us back to those abandoned blogs. Should we revive them or relegate them to forgotten corners of cyberspace (except that no corner of cyberspace is truly forgotten)?

Sidney-Smith recommends being up front--and discussing it in your blog (again, within reason, but you are showing your vulnerability!). Talk about why you didn't stick with it. Bring people up to date about what you are doing

Another point to consider: While you bemoan your absence from the blogging scene, the reality is most people didn't notice.

Remember, though, that a blog, like most organisms, can only be recusitated so many times. Are you are willing and able to sustain the blog if you decide to create or re-create it? If not, wait until you are.

Where to Find Ross and Sidney-Smith

Patrick Ross' blog, named a "Top Ten for Writers 2011-2012, The Artist's Road.

Raymond Sidney-Smith's blog Web and Beyond

Note: Both are on Twitter and other social media. You will find the links on their blogs.

Thanks, Readers!

2011 All-Star LogoThis newsletter received a Constant Contact All Star Award for its open and click-through rates, among other factors. I am glad you find it useful.

Coming up in the next few months--a free e-book that compiles some of the most-read issues. You will be able to download it as a PDF file.


Podcast on Deadline-Writing
podcast icon  
When I contacted Sidney-Smith for this article, he turned the tables and interviewed me for ProdPod, a podcast he produces on time management and productivity.

You can hear what I had to say about writing under a deadline.
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