The key to a successful blog is good content. The biggest problem facing bloggers? The constant, ongoing need for content. This is the one critical area everyone needs to think about before starting a blog.
Why? Because you want to build an audience. This happens only when you give readers who visit your blog a reason to return. Building an audience means giving them something to make them keep coming back to your blog either by subscribing to your blog's feed i.e. RSS, or by surfing to your blog regularly.
Content Is King
Ask anyone who writes professionally for the Internet in any capacity what the most important characteristic of a website is. They'll all tell you that content is king. You must have quality information on your website whether you've got a retail sales site, an information site, an author website, or a blog.
How do you get that quality content? Well, most commercial websites pay someone like me to write it for them. Even if you're an author, you may outsource the task of website content, even blogging, to other writers and/or website designers who may have writers on staff.
If you haven't reached that echelon of fame and fortune yet, chances are you write the copy yourself. You may give it to your website designer, but you probably don't have the web designer's writer compose it.
As an author, you now have a website and a blog to maintain. Let's not forget all those social networking sites on which you try to keep a presence: My Space, Squidoo, Shelfari, Red Room, Facebook, etc. Sure you can use ScribeFire to post to a lot of those sites simultaneously, but you still must produce a certain amount of original content on a regular basis.
How can you do that without spending all your time writing web content instead of writing the next book?
10 Steps to Content Creativity
1. Decide what web page or website will get your constant attention. Will it be your blog? Or will it be one of the social network sites. Unless you're a professional blogger, you really can't do them all equally well, so choose. Like the ancient Knight Templar in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade said: "But choose wisely."
2. Really focus on what your blog is about. If you read my previous blog on How To Get Started Blogging, then you know the first step is to decide what you're going to write about. Are you going to offer how-to articles about writing or marketing or promotion? Are you going to offer advice on dealing with agents or editors or both? What's your niche? What interests you enough that you can write about it day after day after day?
A good example of a niche blog is Bill Crider's Pop Culture Magazine. Bill has been blogging multiple times every day since 2002. Last year alone, he blogged 2,133 times. That man deserves a big honking trophy! Lest you think that's all he does, he writes books too.
Why is he so prolific? Because the pop culture field is huge. Find something that can be mined endlessly.
3. Make a list of the subjects you want to cover. Try to break them down into smaller more specialized areas.
4. Assign labels to these areas so your blogs will be archived under subject headings.
5. Brainstorm at least 10 topics for each of your labels. Always keep a notebook to jot down blog ideas. Write them down or you won't remember when you're actually sitting in front of the computer.
6. See if you can come up with regular features like a list every Monday. The list could contain the same number of items each time. It could be a list of research websites about medieval England or a list of websites that help you name characters or a list of websites that have grammar assistance. The subject matter is up to you.
7. Read a lot. Read not just on the Internet but in print publications too. You'd be surprised how reading an article in the business section of a newspaper can stimulate a blog idea about the business of writing. Or how an article about troubleshooting a computer problem is something you might want to pass on to your blog readers.
In Sling Words I write about specific subjects that I think others might want to know or need to know. I also write about topics that just plain interest me. I read everything.
Many of my ideas come from reading about business or technology issues. A lot of my Hot Button blogs come from reading the newspaper or listening to the news. Most of my blogs are about the Writing Biz, and a lot are about Technology because I think many out there don't really understand how and why the Internet works and how to make it work for them.
If you check the stats for my labels, you'll see that only a few are family or personal: those are the ones listed under My So-called Life. All total, I have 9 labels or subjects that I write about. These work for me. Find the ones that work for you.
8. Pay close attention to what others are saying or asking in forums, email loops, and on other blogs. Sometimes you can clearly see that there is a need to explain to someone else something you find easy to do. That's what a lot of my Technology label blogs are. Or maybe you have specialized knowledge that you can simplify and pass on to others. In fact, that's what this blog is all about. Be open to composing a blog because someone emailed you and asked you how to do something. A lot of my blogs happen this way.
9. See if something in your day job can be utilized to inform your blog audience. For me that's easy because my day job is freelance writing for clients. I find I have quite a bit of knowledge about web writing that other writers need to know, and I like to share. Can you do this with some aspect of your day job?
10. Invite others to guest blog. They'll feel honored. You get to write about them. Plus, you get a break from the responsibility of producing content on that occasion.
Be sure to utilize the scheduling function available in most blogging software. When you have some down time, write up several blogs and schedule them to appear at certain times. It's a lot easier to stay on track by banking several blogs than trying to compose when you're sleepy and bleary-eyed first thing in the morning or when you're exhausted at the end of the day. At the very least, compose and save in the draft mode.
Blogging is a way to promote your writing and your career or your hobby or whatever. However, blogging should be fun because it's another way to be creative and to get those words flowing. Word flow is always a good thing because that will transfer to your paid writing work whether that is articles or books.
If it isn't fun, and it drains you rather than filling your creative well, then just say no to everyone who tells you that you have to blog to maintain a blog.