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Read Other Bloggers – Battling Bloggers Block

This is part 4 in the Battling Bloggers Block Series

4. Read what other Bloggers are Saying

Ok so this one’s not rocket science but it needs to be said. One of the strengths of blogging as a medium is the way that bloggers interact with one another and build upon each others ideas. Here’s five tips for using what others say (and don’t say) for creating original content:

a. Build on the work of others – As a result when I’m looking for inspiration for a new post I quite often look to see what other bloggers are writing about in my niche. What are they learning? What is the hot topic of the moment? What could you add as a fresh perspective on what they are learning? One of my recent popular posts on 13 Tips on Asking other Bloggers for Links came directly from this technique as I bounced off a short post by Robert Scoble. While his point was totally valid – I felt there was more to be said and so built a longer list around his original idea.

b. Look for the gaps in Conversation – Another useful question is to ask – ‘What are other bloggers in my niche NOT writing about?‘ It’s all very well and good to join a conversation – but look for the gaps in conversations also and you might just find yourself starting a whole new line of thought. Asking this question takes a little more discernment but is a skill worth developing as it has the potential to set you apart from the crowd.

c. Look outside your Niche – Don’t just limit yourself to reading bloggers in your own niche either – sometimes it’s when you look outside of your own niche to see what developments are happening elsewhere that innovative ideas comes. The Blogosphere is full many smaller blogging communities, many of which are doing incredibly creative blogging. Go exploring a blog neighborhood you’ve not visited before and you could just stumble upon an idea to bring back to your own.

d. Read Other Bloggers Archives – An area of blogging that frustrates me is that once a post slips off the front page of a blog it seems to lose it’s worth. The problem with dates on blog posts (and I see some positives with it also) is that it can make very relevant posts seem ‘dated’. The fact is that there must be an incredible wealth of knowledge locked away in the archives of some of your favorite blogs. Spend some time scanning them and you’ll probably find hundreds of ideas that you could bounce off with some posts of your own.

e. Credit where Credit is Due – One final thought – as always, be generous with giving credit to the bloggers who inspire your thoughts. While in bouncing off them you might create your own original content – but acknowledging the work of others who have gone before you in the conversation costs you little.

Free Writing – Battling Bloggers Block

3. Free Writing – Just Write – When I run out first sit down to work out what to say for a public speaking gig I often lock myself in a private room and just begin to speak (to myself) randomly on the topic that I’ve been asked to talk about. It feels a bit odd when you first use this technique but it’s amazing how quickly a talk begins to form in your mind as you do it. I find as I do these exercises that the first few minutes is generally pretty gibberish but that in most cases as I write whatever comes out that eventually I hit on an idea that is worth building on.

I also use this same technique with blogging. Some writers call it free writing and argue that it helps exercise your right brain – I’m not sure of the technicalities of it – but I find that it definitely gets the ideas flowing. One of the hardest parts of writing a post can be starting it – and this technique attempts to help with this.

Free writing purists say to start writing whatever comes into your head (any topic) – I do this from time to time but more regularly set myself a broad topic so that if I do stumble onto a good idea that I have some chance of using it on my blog.

It’s amazing to see what flows out of this type of exercise. Some of my best posts ever have been as a result of forcing myself to start writing. Quite often I’ll start writing on one topic and end up on another or will end up publishing only a section of what I write (having deleted the unordered gibber at the start) but on many occasions there is a gem or two in the mix that can be a post (or two) in and of themselves – or at least the beginning of a post.

This is part 3 in the series examining how to beat Bloggers Block

Adsense Thanksgiving Themed Ads

I’m hearing reports from Adsense publishers that Adsense are asking some publishers if they will give them permission to run special Thanksgiving ads this Thursday on some of their ads.

Ads will be normal running ads but will be made to look “thanksgiving-ish” according to the email.

This looks to be similar to what Adsense did with their Halloween Themed Ads in October.

Subscribe to Comments Feature Added

After many readers making the suggestion I’ve finally added a Subscribe to Comments Plugin to ProBlogger.net.

So now if you want to know when others add comments after you to check the little ‘ Notify me of followup comments via e-mail’ box and you’ll get emails every time anyone comments.

I’ll be interested to monitor how comment levels go over the coming days.

Enjoy

update – ok – I thought that went too smoothly – it seems to be putting the check-box way down the bottom of the post and messing with the page configuration. Might have to play around with this.

update – fixed it. Thanks to Mark J for the suggestion in comments.

Idea Journals – Battling Bloggers Block

Idea-JournalThis is part 2 in the Battling Bloggers Block Series

2. Keep an idea Journal – I have a little Moleskine notebook (pictured) that I carry everywhere with me. I use it for all kinds of purposes but largely it’s for capturing random thoughts and ideas – often for speaking and blogging.

Idea journals are great in the short term as they are great for recording those impulsive ideas that flow through my mind all day everyday and for creating ‘to do’ lists for immediate action. However I also find them great in the long term and occasionally get my older idea journals out and flick through them to find unused creative ideas that I never go around to implementing.

It’s often when flicking through idea journals in this way that an idea leaps out. In fact the interesting thing I’ve noticed is that it’s often these discarded ideas that simmer away over time and seem to mature into my best posts.

I know I’m a bit old fashioned in writing my ideas down in a book – I know many of you use PDAs and computers to do the same thing – but I’m a bit of a visual kind of guy and like to draw diagrams, arrows between ideas and to doodle while I dream.

How ever you do it – an idea journal can be a valuable tool on many levels for bloggers.

Battling Bloggers Block – Change your Blogging Environment

On the weekend I got ‘speakers block’. I had to do two speaking gigs and a couple of times in my preparation ‘hit the wall’ when it came to creative ideas on how to make my presentations to the next level. Luckily I’ve been speaking in public for around 12 years and have developed a few techniques for breaking through such blockages – many of which are applicable to the dreaded ‘bloggers block’.

So I’ve decided to adapt what I do to break through the dry patches in my speaking to tackle the question of how to battle against bloggers block. I’ve come up with 20+ short tips which I’ll share over the coming week as a series. As I add them one by one on the main blog I’ll also add them to this central page so you can have one place for the complete series. Feel free to chip in in comments as we go with your own bloggers block busting tips.

1. Change your Blogging Environment

Put your Hands in the air and step away from the Computer!

On Saturday when I came to the end of my inspiration I got out of the house for a couple of hours and went for a long walk. I often find that when I change my environment that inspiration comes. I walked down to the main street near our place and sat in the sun for half an hour and ‘people watched’. Somewhere along the way the ideas began to flow.

Getting away from your computer and blog can definitely help but so can blogging from a new location. Some of the places I’ve blogged from in the last few months include:

  • friends houses - I have a mate’s house who I occasionally spend the day at so that we can work in the same room – it’s nice to have the company – even though he’s not a blogger I find our conversations lead me to try new things on my blogs
  • net cafes – I did this for a day recently when my broadband went down
  • public libraries – I did this for a week 18 months back and it totally gave me a new perspective on blogging – once I got past the frustration of having to book a computer and blog in one hour blocks of time
  • other rooms in the house – I have a bit of a daily rhythm now where I move rooms during the day to keep things fresh – bed, office, couch, kitchen table, back yard – wireless is my friend
  • local cafes – I have one cafe that i regularly take my laptop to. They don’t have wifi but I just write there (offline) and upload later. I find it’s a great place to blog without the distractions of incoming email and IM.

Change up your blogging environment and you might just find that it gives you a fresh perspective on blogging that will unleash some blogging creativity.

Promote your RSS feed with ‘Add to Google’ button

You can now add a Add to Google button to your blog that will promote your RSS feed to readers to help them add your feed to their Google homepage and/or Google Reader.

Add to Google

found via Steve

WordPress.com Goes Live

Lots of WordPress News today – it seems that the free hosted blog platform, WordPress.com has gone live and is now available for all bloggers and not just those invited into the system.

Sign Up here

WordPress 2.0 Beta

Ooooh! WordPress 2.0 is in Beta!