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How to Start a Blog

I quite often get asked by new readers for advice on starting a new blog. Now I’ll point them to the series that Duncan is writing on the topic of Starting a Blog. Part 1 is on ‘What to Blog About‘ – (choosing a topic).

Duncan’s series is for all kinds of bloggers but if you’re working through how to start a blog with an income earning potential you might also be interested in readying Principles of Choosing a Profitable Blog Topic after you’ve read Duncan’s post.

Stimulate your Mind – Battling Bloggers Block

Blog Tip 12 – Stimulate your Mind

This bloggers block tip is really an extension of the last one on taking breaks – but I guess it’s about what you do on your break that can make it even more powerful for adding to your creativity.

The saying of ‘what goes in comes out’ is true – what you put into your mind has a direct impact upon what comes out of it.

I find that when I’m in a ‘dry patch’ in terms of generating content or coming up with ideas that I’m also often in a dry patch in terms of what I’m doing creatively in the rest of my life.

I purposely listen to music, go to the movies, watching the news, read a variety of books, magazines and newspapers, hang out with creative and innovative people, get out in the vegetable patch, do some photography etc to engage my senses and fill my brain with new ideas. When I do this I generally find that I come up with more interesting ideas and am more productive.

Particularly useful is to do new things – take yourself out of your comfort zone into a completely new experience can shake you out of that numb blocked state.

Take a Break – Battling Bloggers Block

11. Take a Break

It seems an appropriate day (with many of my US readers currently off eating Turkey and being thankful) to talk about having a break from blogging.

Whether it’s a longer holiday, long weekend, day off or even a lunch or coffee break – time off is probably one of the most essential tips I’d give Pro Blogger types. I got sucked into the 7 days per week 12 work life earlier in the year and it’s perhaps the quickest way to deteriorate your effectiveness as a blogger and the quality of your content. It can also be one of the major causes of bloggers block.

It’s just not worth it to work so crazily. I still work very hard at my blogging these days – but time off is essential and is a big part of being productive and building a sustainable blog.

On a personal level I try to build time off into my blogging in a number of ways including:

  • Holidays – this year we’ve gone away for a number of breaks (in June we were away for the whole month).
  • Weekends – in the later half of this year I’ve scaled back my weekend blogging. I still do it but only lightly and as a last priority.
  • Daily breaks – I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’ve started a vegetable patch – it’s become a way that I regularly break up my day. I also go for walks, photographic expeditions etc during most days.
  • Friendship breaks – I’m regularly using lunch breaks and afternoons (when I’m not productive) to spend time with people. I found that being a solo business person meant I needed to be a bit more pro-active in my social interactions with people.
  • Breaks from Blogs – recently I’ve been taking days off from specific blogs. One of the challenges of running multiple blogs is that it’s easy to get a little burnt out and bored with some subjects (not ProBlogging of course….). One way to combat this is simply to take an intentional day off from time to time from a specific blog. I often find that when I do this I come back to the blog with a fresh approach and energy for it.

It’s pretty basic stuff really – I’m sure many people don’t struggle with the time off factor like I do but I tend to be something of a workaholic and so this post is probably more for me than anyone else.

I’m off for a coffee….

[Read more...]

Amazon ProductWiki

Amazonwiki

There has been quite a bit of talk in the past couple of days about Amazon starting a wiki – Church of the Customer started it all but the interesting thing is that no one that I can see (including Church of the Customer) seems to have a link to it anywhere. Some say it’s something that only some people can view – but even still I would have expected links it it.

The wiki is called ProductWiki but most people don’t seem to be able to find out where it comes from. Business Week does have a link to a help page explaining what a wiki is but it doesn’t really refer to an Amazon wiki as such.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/wiki/ currently points to an error page for me – but it’s not a ‘this page doesn’t exist’ type error but one that says they are having problems processing the request. So maybe that’s where it is.

Product-Wiki

Interestingly (and maybe it is connected – and maybe it’s not) if you go to http://www.productwiki.com/ you’ll find a ‘coming soon’ message – in fact whatever is there is coming very soon – midnight tonight in fact. Perhaps this is the new home for Amazon’s ProductWiki or perhaps someone else is capitalizing on what they see Amazon doing.

The page design doesn’t look very Amazon-ish and they tend to keep everything on the one domain so I’m not sure it’s officially Amazon or not but time will tell.

update: a whois on the www.productwiki.com site has no obvious connection to Amazon. It’s registered to Amanie Ismail from Canada. Probably a dead end to that lead.

update II: I’ve just had an IM from Tim Flight who says he can see Wiki links on normal Amazon pages. They also have a description as follows:

You can create Wikis about a many different things on Amazon. For example, you might create a Wiki to describe a particular opera recording. Within that Wiki you could create links to Wiki entries defining words such as “soprano” and “coloratura”.

You can view how a particular Wiki entry has changed over time, to see who has contributed what and when, and you can subscribe to be notified by email of any future updates to Wikis you are interested in.

A list of Wikis you have contributed to appears on your Your Amazon Home and Profile pages.

Interesting. Obviously I’m living in the wrong part of the world (again) to participate in it but it looks like an interesting interaction with customers by Amazon.

Using Blog Deadlines to Defeat Bloggers Block

Deadline10. Set a deadline

When I was at school and then university one of the things that got my act together the most when it came to writing essays was a looming deadline. I work well under pressure (or maybe I’m just lazy and don’t work well when there is a lack of pressure) so deadlines work very well for me and I set them for myself in my blogging on a regular basis.

Deadlines need to be used with caution (they actually can be the cause of bloggers block for some people) but I find that having posting goals and deadlines helps me to keep fresh content turning over on my blog.

Deadlines can take a number of forms and can range from setting yourself a daily posting goal to starting a series of posts (ie tell everyone that over the next week you’ll write a post per day on a certain topic and you’ve suddenly made yourself accountable to writing something every day – other people waiting for a post can be just the motivation you need).

Another type of deadline that I know a few bloggers use is to have a blog buddy who they keep themselves accountable to by telling them their goals and asking the other blogger to check up on them. I know one blogger who does this same thing with his wife – she reads and counts his posts every night (quality and quantity check) – not to check up on him because she doesn’t trust him – but because he finds that it helps to keep him motivated to know someone is watching with that purpose in mind.

One note of qualification – deadlines suit my personality type but I don’t recommend them for everyone. Try them but if they cause you more stress then they are worth and they decrease the quality of your work rather than increase then give them away and find some other methods to keep you inspired.

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Blogger Collaboration – Battling Bloggers Block

9. Collaborate with other Bloggers

Run out of ideas? Find someone who hasn’t to work with.

One of the great things about blogging is the relational aspect of it. The ideas that come when you put your head together with someone else are often quite amazing. Collaboration can happen on many different levels including:

  • Guest Blogging - get someone in to write on your blog from time to time to freshen things up
  • Blog Swaps – swap blogs with another blogger for a day
  • Joint Posts – write on a topic together in a one off way
  • Interviews – interview each other
  • Joint Blogs – start a blog with someone – split up the work (and rewards) between you
  • Blog Network – one of the things I like most about networks is the companionship and new possibilities to work together that they can bring
  • Chatting on IM/email - just chatting about your blog, it’s goals and how you’re going with your blog can be a real motivator. If I have an idea for a new blog I quite often do a brainstorming session with another blogger or two around the idea.
  • Participate in discussion forums – there are many discussion forums out there which can not only be quite informative but which give opportunity for collaborating around ideas

Rubbing shoulders with other bloggers (and non bloggers) keeps me sane and is one of the main reasons that I’m able to sustain what I do. Without it blogging can become a pretty lonely existence.

Read more of the Bloggers Block Series

Flip an Idea – Beating Bloggers Block

Pancake18. Flip an Idea

Sometimes I get stuck on an idea because I’ve only ever looked at it from one angle. What about tackling it from another direction? Flip it!

One of the most memorable discussions I’ve ever participated in here at ProBlogger was the day I asked ‘What’s Wrong with Blogging?

What I didn’t write on that post was that the idea actually came to me on a day when I was trying to write a post on the topic of ‘What’s Good about Blogging?’ Sometimes when we flip an idea and start arguing a case that we don’t agree with we learn a lot and find new inspiration.

Another time I flipped an idea was back in March when I ran my first annual ProBlogger Underblogger Awards. Again the idea started as a normal Awards post but flipping it to be an award with a twist took it to a more unique place.

Read the rest of the Bloggers Block Series

Apple Australia – Slow and Steady doesn’t win the race!

Almost 4 weeks ago I excitedly rang my local Apple store to place an order for a new dual core powermac. I made a few modifications to the standard configuration so the ETA on it was going to be a little longer than a standard machine. The prediction was 10 days.

Hmmm – so it’s coming up for 28 days and on last report the powermac is in Singapore.

While I love what Apple makes with it’s computers (this is my third – having owned an ibook and powerbook) I’ve noticed that on each occasion of purchasing them that the delivery time has always gone at least a week or two past what I was advised on purchase. I’m not sure if it’s just a localized Apple Australia problem but it’s enough to drive a guy nuts!

I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait but I’m starting to wonder if it’ll get here before Christmas!

Shoutwire

ShoutwireThe Zero Boss has a mini review of Shoutwire – a social bookmarking site that is similar to Digg but that covers a wider array of topics (Digg is just technology related).

It could be a useful tool if it takes off.