What is the second most disabling problem bloggers face after not knowing what to write?
To paraphrase a million different wise individuals throughout the ages: it’s not what you say but how you say it. And that is exactly my problem, because while others are struggling with doubts and complete melt downs over what to write next, my “block” is wanting to get every entry to be “just right”. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about that forever elusive goal of human civilisation: the perfect blog post!
Imagine sitting on a cache of solid and reliable post ideas and not doing anything about it. As I write this, I have at least 5-6 posts for this site all planned out in my head. I know exactly what I want to say but there are three things holding me back: how much to say, how to say it, and what pretty pictures to include. So, for all you bullet point fans out there, it comes down to quantity, quality, and presentation.
There are always debates about the ideal length of text content on the internet. At which point people go into discussions of the short attention span of most internet readers and other facts and figures. This is of special interest to me because I tend to write longer posts, simply because that is the kind of material I enjoy reading.
There was an interesting study of word counts of posts in the Technorati Top 100 sites which I recently found through Problogger. It would seem most of the sites have shorter posts ranging from 100-500 words, with the most popular blogs having articles in the 100-250 word range. That is expected, but I still think each blogger should decide for themselves what sort of length best suits the content they are dealing with. Some topics require longer articles and some would just not work with anything beyond short blurbs.
But we have all heard from the earlier mentioned wise individuals that it’s not quantity that matters but the quality. And that is true. the very same facts and conclusions can be written different by different writers. One would make it exciting and another would reduce it to utter boredom. The question is, how does one consciously steer the content towards the interesting side of the spectrum?
There are, of course a thousand different answers to that question and good writing can take a lifetime to master, but one good general way of looking at the topic can be found at Copyblogger’s article on using metaphors for more effective blog writing. I think it’s a great broad-based technique for adding interest into any piece of writing, which makes it a good tip towards our perfect post.
Last but certainly not the least is the infamous picture which is allegedly worth a thousand words. Like it or not all of us do actually judge books and blog posts by their covers and a post without any pictorial content seems that much less attractive. This is one of my stumbling blocks because I have a few posts in mind that require me to come up with original illustrations, and that goes into a whole new can of worms involving indefinite procrastinatory image research on the web and other delays.
But images really are worth the trouble to add that extra zing to your articles and posts. Not only does it make the content more accessible and attractive, but it also shows a certain level of commitment on the part of the author, which is bound to increase your value in the eyes of your readership. Darren Rowse has a very appropriate piece about adding images to RSS feeds which holds just as true for the actual blog posts and brings up some good examples of image usage for added impact.
So there you have it, our simple little perfection triumvirate which can act as a delay tactic (as in my case) or take your blog content to higher levels of excellence. Make sure you make these your strength rather than your weakness.
Do you ever have a problem deciding how to tackle and execute an idea for an article? How do you deal with it?