Recently I was contacted by Jake Rigdon of Nimble Media, a content marketing firm. He had come across my article Author Blogging 101: How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be? and wanted to interview me about blogging.
Well, you don’t have to twist my arm too far to get me to talk about blogging. It’s one of my favorite subjects. After 4 years of running a blog, it sounded like fun to talk about it.
Authors—especially nonfiction authors—owe it to themselves to learn blogging. There’s no other way for a solo entrepreneur, service provider, author, subject matter expert, or anyone with an opinion or a point of view they’d like to spread, to get the kind of results as you can with blogging.
Here are some highlights from the interview. For the full text, it’s here on their site: Blog Experts’ Advice? Know Who You’re Writing For.
Nimble Media: One of the issues we deal with on a fairly regular basis is coming up with new story ideas for keywords that are used over and over again. What’s the best way to come up with fresh, engaging ideas when you’re dealing with keywords that are used over and over again?
Joel: Don’t repeat the same story 20 different ways! That will drive people away. I spent two years posting six days a week, and I was confronted with that problem over and over again. You’re dealing with small niches with topics that only come with a certain number of keywords, but you still have to come up with ways to say something interesting every time. If it’s not interesting, then you’re dead in the water, and your bounce rate will be through the roof.
My favorite way to handle this is through “mind mapping.” I’ve written about it. Take one idea and develop it through mind mapping, where that one idea branches into other branches, and so on. Pretty soon, you’ve got 20 or 30 topics that you’ve broken down from that one idea, and it just keeps going. All of a sudden, you’ve got a bazillion ideas for blog posts. That’s one way.
Another way to go about it is to look at other (people’s writings) on the topic. Go to newspapers, trade magazines, all a good way of finding content ideas. Go to other similar sites, expert author sites, and read the content there, then check out the frequently asked questions section. The FAQ is a gold mine for story ideas.
Nimble: Story length: We’ve written about it, you have, too. But when it comes to SEO-type blogs, do you think it’s best to stick with 300 to 600 words?
Joel: Generally speaking, write until you’ve said what you wanted to say. But you have to know who your readers are. SEO writing is different; it’s more mechanical, more technical, in a sense. You’re banging out a lot of posts. The faster you write those posts, the more money you make.
But that’s not really what I do with my site. I’ve spent a huge amount of time figuring out who my readers are. So if I want to post something today that’s, say, 1,000 words and tomorrow post something that’s 400 words, it’s OK, because I know my readers will be OK with that.
Nimble: Where did this idea of “industry” standard come from regarding story length?
Joel: I think that used to be much more of a topic than it is now. Story length typically comes from people answering questions on beginner blogging. It’s really common for people who are just starting out as bloggers to ask, “How long should my post be?” But people doing this for years don’t worry about that as much. New bloggers are looking for guidelines and think they have to stay within the lines to be successful, but that’s not what generates success. Whether your story is 100 words or 2,000, you have to know who you’re talking to—and decide who you’re trying to attract to your blog.
Try to find an author (in your niche) who is successful, then follow their lead, because they’ve already solved those problems.
“Blogging: when you know who you’re writing for, you enter into an easy rapport with your readers.”—Click to tweet
Do you have questions about blogging? Leave them in the comments.