Weblog Content Strategy: My Handout

(UPDATE OCT. 12: I noticed in my site statistics that suddenly I’m getting a ton of traffic to this page. Unfortunately, I can’t tell where it’s coming from. I’d really appreciate it if someone could drop me a note and let me know who’s discussing or linking to this article. Thanks!)

Later today I’ll be speaking at another Da Vinci Institute event, Blogger Bootcamp. It’ll be fun, I’m really looking forward to it. Especially since my friend and colleague Dave Taylor is speaking all morning. He’s excellent, I always learn a lot from him.

Here’s a preview of my talk and my handout…

I’m giving a talk on weblog content strategy. That is: What will you say in your blog – and why, how, when, and to whom?

In my experience, content strategy is drastically overlooked in many weblogs – well, actually in most kinds of publishing and communication. It’s not the kind of thing people are accustomed to thinking about consciously, beyond deciding the topic of a specific posting. We tend to take communication for granted, sadly.

However, there’s a lot you can achieve if you view your blog not as a standalone publication, but as your voice in the public conversation. This is why my blogging content strategy tips focus on reading and commenting on other key blogs in addition to developing content for your own.

This is a conversation. It’s not just publishing.

So check out my handout for this event. I’ll be expanding it later into a series of postings.

UPDATE 1:30 pm

Now that I see the kinds of questions the participants here are asking, I’ve decided to add a few links to articles I’ve written which might be helpful or interesting to this group:

4 thoughts on Weblog Content Strategy: My Handout

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  1. Nice handout Amy. One thing I don’t entirely agree with though is commenting before you blog.

    I find that my regular readers are people whose blogs I have commented on or linked to. If I didn’t have a blog at the time, then I wouldn’t have built up a readership as easily.

    I do agree that it gives you a better sense of the conversation, and more importantly how to converse. But if you’re actually contributing to the conversation then I think you’re missing out in terms of strategy by commenting before blogging.

    One other thing I feel you are missing out on in terms of strategy is promotion. I’m an Irish blogger and a lot of my traffic comes from http://www.planetoftheblogs.com I think that anyone who blogs and doesn’t join the communities relevant to them is also missing out. The most important thing about saying anything interesting is making sure that you are heard. If a blogger posted alone in the woods, would anyone read his entry? πŸ˜€

  2. Thanks Piaras. Good point about joining blog communities, I did overlook that. Fortunately you mentioned it before I gave my talk, so I’ve just noted to mention it in my presentation this afternoon πŸ™‚

    You wrote: “One thing I donÒ€ℒt entirely agree with though is commenting before you blog.”

    I understand your perspective, and I know some people disagree with me on this. That’s fine.

    Here’s my reasoning:

    I cannot stress how important it is to approach your weblog as part of an ongoing public conversation. Viewing your weblog mainly as a publishing vehicle is probably the single biggest error I see bloggers make.

    Commenting (well, at least constructive commenting) is a crucial aspect of what makes weblogs so vital and valuable. I would argue that comments are at least as valuable as the postings themselves, if they’re written well and managed well.

    By commenting before you blog, you’ll get involved in the public conversation — and get known by key bloggers as someone who is constructive and thoughtful. This positions your blog well even before you start blogging.

    Also, even if you don’t have a blog, in comments you can link to any URL you want — it could be your site, or even your resume. Definitely post something online that you can link to. (I should have mentioned that above.) But I strongly believe that commenting first hones your blogging skill set in a valuable way, and it pre-positions your weblog for a good reception.

    Make sense?

    – Amy Gahran
    Editor, Contentious

  3. It makes sense alright. My only concern is people will click on your URL and visit a standard website. By the time that you actually start blogging, they’ll be familiar with you and not follow the link because they think it’ll lead to the same site.

    So you’ll have to start linking to them or email them to tell them about your blog, neither of which are something I’d always be inclined to do. Personal preference I guess…or just plain laziness πŸ˜€

  4. I understand what you’re saying Piaras. Still, I think it’s more important to develop the skill of participating constructively in the public conversation via comments to existing blogs first, before starting your own blog. I don’t personally think linking to a static site until you get started would frustrate many people — that’s just my guess, of course.

    You don’t have to be a blogger to participate in the weblogged aspects of the public conversation. In fact, I wish MORE people realized that. In that case, we might have better conversations through blog comments and fewer crappy blogs out there. πŸ™‚

    – Amy Gahran
    Editor, Contentious