Who Are You Blogging For? The Nimble Media Interview

by Joel Friedlander on September 27, 2013 · 12 comments

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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.

Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via photopin cc

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    { 10 comments… read them below or add one }

    Katie Cross September 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Oh, I love anyone who puts a shoutout in for mind mapping. I’m obsessed with it!

    Good SEO and blogging tips. The more I get into it, the more I like learning about this side of it, as well as the social/enjoyment aspect. Thanks Joel. Great stuff, as always.

    Reply

    Cathy September 29, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Thanks Joel! You say ” I’ve spent a huge amount of time figuring out who my readers are,” which helps you in deciding how long your posts can be. What’s an example of an audience who likes shorter blog posts (maybe news or tech?) and longer posts? I know my market, but how would I figure out how much is too much (I tend to write a lot; last post was 1200 words)? I write on food preparation and health, so I think people like to read more, since getting healthy is a challenge for many. Interestingly, many of the comments on my blog are quite lengthy too. But was just curious about this link between knowing your audience and word length. Thanks! :)

    Reply

    Will Gibson September 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    PS I agree with Micheal M’s comment from a few postings and from a few days ago. Maybe offer your commenters an opportunity to edit their comments. CreateSpace does this, within a fifteen minute time period. It only increases the quality of their comments and enables them to make their points more clearly and without typos. I left out ‘but I don’t THINK cyberspace needs another…” Maybe it’s not that important but after all, we are all writers and we want it to be succinct and accurate.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 29, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    To include this function, since WordPress does not provide it organically, would mean going to one of the comment plug in systems like Disqus. While they are cool, they also require you to be logged in to comment, which some people don’t like, and they add a “load burden” on the site, which slows it down. Those reasons are why I haven’t implemented a comment system so far, although I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve the reader experience here.

    Reply

    Will Gibson September 29, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    I thought there might be a reason for not offering it.

    And thanks for the suggestion of ‘Far better to stick to the subject you’re passionate about’ than try to make the blog fit into all of the rest of my books.

    Reply

    Will Gibson September 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    I have always enjoyed commenting on other people’s blogs but now must start my own as I am about to finally release my book. And I really have no idea what my ‘niche’ might be. I follow Joel’s blog because he always seem to be able to present previously covered subjects about self-publishing in a new light. I’ve learned a lot about self-publishing in the last six years as an independent author but I don’t cyberspace needs another blog about self-publishing or writing.

    So, here is my question. I have written a novel about the need to protect the environment for our future generations. I have a passion about it and have a fair amount of knowledge on climate change. But I also have that knowledge about self-publishing and writing. Should I concentrate on climate change blogging to promote my current book or do a more broad based blog that could also help to promote my next two books that wouldn’t have anything to do with subject?

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 29, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I might agree with you, Will, that we don’t need another blog about self-publishing or writing, but every week I look at hundreds of blogs and I’m constantly impressed by how useful many of the articles are, even from newbie bloggers.

    But these articles are just as often a distraction for the blogger, who probably isn’t in the writing or self-publishing niche, they just got interested in the topic by doing their own book.

    Far better to stick to the subject you’re passionate about—in your case the environment—and which will help you promote your book.

    If your other books are in a very different niche, it won’t be very easy to establish a blog to cover both.

    Reply

    Diane Tibert September 27, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Thank, Joel. I’m there. For the past seven years I’ve been writing a weekly genealogy column. Sometimes I get lost for ideas, but it doesn’t matter; I still have to write 525 a week on a genealogy-related topic that will interest readers. Some days are a breeze. Others are not. Still, it’s something I’m committed to doing, so I do it. I’m not so strict with my blog. A few times a week with enough words to say what I want to say is fine.

    Reply

    Joel Friedlander September 29, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    Diane, you might be interested in this: How to Create an Endless Stream of Blog Post Ideas.

    Sounds like you’ve got it down.

    Reply

    Michael N. Marcus September 27, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Joel said, “Don’t repeat the same story 20 different ways! That will drive people away.”

    20 repeats in one year are too many, but two or three are OK. I don’t avoid CBS because I encountered a rerun of The Mentalist or Blue Bloods.

    Television reruns get lots of viewers, Disney periodically re-releases classic movies, DVDs and CDs are enhanced and repackaged. Books are too.

    I frequently republish old blog postings, often updated. Blogs should keep attracting new readers, and even long-term readers may not have seen a posting the first time.

    If you are reluctant to publish reruns, you can use a label like “an updated classic” or “repeated due to popular demand.”

    A good rerun is better than a dull, uninteresting, unimportant fresh posting, or a skipped day.

    Michael N. Marcus
    http://www.BookMakingBlog.com
    http://www.CreateBetterBooks.com

    Reply

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