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Lessons from Tower Defense on How to Reinvent Your Blog

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein*

Defence-TowerTangent – I’m not really into gaming (online or offline) but I do have one weakness – Tower Defense (warning – following that link could grind your blogging to a halt for a great deal of time).

I am no expert at this game but I enjoy the challenge that it brings.

Last night I was playing Tower Defense and just couldn’t get past a certain level (towards the end of ‘hard’). At around midnight (I told you this game is addictive) I looked back at the last hour or so of playing and realized that I was insane (at least according to Albert Einstein) – I’d been playing the game over and over again in much the same way (setting up my towers in much the same pattern each time). Of course I got much the same results each time.

It wasn’t until I radically changed my approach that I finally progressed through the level that I’d been stuck on.

Einstein’s definition of insanity can apply to many activities in life – one of which is blogging.

Have you Hit a Brick Wall With Your Blogging?

One of the questions that I ask bloggers hitting brick walls with their blogs is how long ago they tried something completely out of the box on their blogs? What I find is that in most cases those that I ask reflect back on their last 6-12 months of blogging and realize that they’ve been stuck in a rut and doing the same sorts of posts over and over again, looking to promote their blog in the same places over and over again and really not straying far from a pattern of blogging which is proved to be unsuccessful.

I’m not arguing that bloggers need to make every post that they write completely random or out of the box – but if your blog is stuck in a rut perhaps it’s time to do something unexpected or different.

  • One place to start is look at your style and voice of posting. Check out these 20 types of blog posts and pick one that you’ve not done before (or ever).
  • Another thing to do is to spend some time reading, commenting and interacting on blogs, forums and social media sites outside of your normal surfing routine.
  • Why not pitch a story that you’ve written to a blogger that you’ve had no contact with before?
  • Another suggestion is to write a post that is slightly off topic – on topic related to your blog but something that surprises your regular readers a little.
  • How about writing a post for someone else’s blog instead of your own – a guest post?
  • What about writing a post pitched at a different level than normal? If you normally write advanced posts, write something simple for beginners or if you’re usually writing for beginners try a more advanced post.

* This quote has been attributed to numerous people. Albert Einstain, Benjamin Franklin and also Rita Mae Brown.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Peter Cooper says:

    Hmm.. there might be an opening for a Tower Defense blog here.. I want to know the strategy! :)

  2. Interesting article i was just thinking to myself today what my next post is going to be and was hitting that brick wall i will take a look at the 20 types of blog posts link and see what i can get from it. Hopefully a new post for my blog.

  3. Someone once said that the first rule to follow, if you find yourself in a rut, is to “stop digging”. Needless to say, since this advice came decades ago, they were not referring to Digg dot Com!

    The best advice, then, is to branch off in a different direction when you find yourself stuck.

    The hard part is determining what direction to go. Successfull bloggers find that direction. The rest of us, however …

  4. What an inspirational post! I think I’ll try a new posting style today!

    Your thoughts are similar to a post I published back in May: Two Ways to Boost Your Blog’s Energy.

    Keep defending the desktop!

  5. Lori says:

    I haven’t hit the brick wall but I am writing my first guest post this week! I’m nervous and excited.

  6. Christopher says:

    @Peter: I’ve written an article with some strategy here.

    Another good way is to learn is try a whole bunch of different maze patterns, and to see what other people are doing.

  7. Sangesh says:

    Ok, so Darren you are also into computer games ;)

    Anyway your suggestions are great. I like the one to “surprise your regular readers”

  8. Ben Cook says:

    I LOVE that game. It really is addictive though. I can’t count the number of hours I’ve spent playing it. your formation is quite similar to the one I use. I haven’t played it since they changed things up though (new towers etc).

  9. Rick Julian says:

    I hit brick walls all the time, and find the best solution is to begin playing with them: bouncing balls off of them, writing mocking graffiti on them . . . it’s important to not let the wall get the upper hand.

    I wrote a post last week that shares my strategies for breaking through creative inertia (sorry for the ugly link)

    http://www.quo-vadis.tv/rickjulian/2008/02/15/7-ways-to-detonate-your-creativity/

    Best

    Rick

  10. Troy says:

    Wow, I used to play a LOT of that game (also, budapest defender). The real lesson here is that you can make a blog post out of almost anything. I only wish I had someting to day about Defend Your Castle :).

  11. I love that Einstein quote. Being an entrepreneur, I have to remember that one every single day…. or I waste too much time doing things that don’t work.

    I definitely think that keeping things fresh is imperative. Using your strong points is a MUST. If you have a good sense of humor… use it! If you are creative at graphic design and the like, offer some type of free button for like-minded bloggers to use on their sites… creating a network-friendly blog in the process. If it’s pretty, most people will put it somewhere… and it’ll bring your site more visability in the process.

  12. Frugal Dad says:

    Great ideas for getting out of a rut! One thing I like to do is change venues. I typically blog here at my desktop, but when I get in a rut I like to venture out on my old laptop and blog in a bookstore, coffee shop, etc. In fact, many times this is where I come with inspiration for new topics.

  13. Tom Beaton says:

    I’m going to give Tower Defense a shot. As a non gamer I might enjoy it too. I am yet to hit a rut in blogging, but a radical change is the best way to overcome ruts in many aspects of the business of life.

  14. Cigar Jack says:

    My question is how the heck did you beat that level! I want strategy tips! :)

  15. Suzanne says:

    Some great ideas. I followed your links and came across your Underdog idea and have just reincarnated it on my blog. Super idea.

  16. Pádraig says:

    That’s one hell of a quote.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Hehe! Now I can tell my husband he’s insane! He has this one strategy he’s always using for that game.

    On the blogging side of my life, I’ve been working on changing things up a little. Life keeps doing the same to me….

  18. Dee Copeland says:

    I’m trying something new on my blog this week because I’ve been seeing more local stories on green building. Today is Green Week at http://www.TexasRealtyBlog.com. I’m interviewing local green building professionals to post their advice as well as information about the best green communities in my area.

    I really enjoy blogging because it lets me talk about things that I find important. I just have to take time to think about what my audience is interested in.

  19. M says:

    I used to play that game too – drove me nuts. I would too play for hours and hours on end. To the point where I had ban myself. I had withdrawal symptoms for a while and I had to get therapy for it. I was joking, and that was a small tangent.

    Back to the topic, I think the problem with many bloggers, is that they usually blog with a certain style and to break out of that style is very difficult. If we can liken our blogging routine to our daily routine – or better yet, our drive to work, then breaking is out to try a different route from time to time.

    Taking a different route, perhaps, will not have any detrimental effect (assuming you only do it when you actually do have the time), but some bloggers, particularly those with stake in it e.g. advertising, hardcore readers, certain topics may be afraid of losing credibility and that there is slight inconsistency.

    Since consistency is one of those things always preached by pro blogging tips – including yourself, Darren – it may be easy to see why bloggers may be afraid to have a random jerk in a different direction, even if for once in several weeks.

    I think people forget that a blog should have some element of fun and/or personification and hence a little – to quote you – tangent, may be appreciated once in a while. It can also show the human side of the blog and therefore encourage more readership – and current readers to respond more.

  20. Great tips. I especially like the one about writing something for beginners when you normally blog for more advanced readers in your niche. This helps introduce people to your niche and helps them gain a better understanding of the rest of your postings.

    I have a blog about website traffic generation and I find a lot of visitors have only a basic understanding of things. They have questions about basic seo and meta tags. They are not ready for an indepth discussion of using torrents to get traffic.

  21. j2watches says:

    I can’t believe you got me to click on that Tower Defense link. Now I’ve got another distraction to try and avoid – lol

    Back to this post – my comment was to emphsize your second suggestion.

    Something far too easy to do is to get heads down on our own sites and not stay engaged with the rest of the community.

  22. Darren,

    Did you do this post out of guilt so you can say at least you haven’t completely wasted that time playing Tower?

    lol

  23. I was hitting so many brick walls until a few weeks ago when I switched to a paid theme I liked and when that happened, the brick wall crumbled to dust.

    Another thing I realized was that I started forgetting about the advices I read on “probloggers” website, including yours, sorry, Darren, and that also helped unblock my writing skills to return to a quality content level.

    So as a result, from remodeling my website which included splitting up my “niches” into sub-domains, I started writing quality content even if I wasn’t posting on a daily basis. Once I realized that, my enthusiasm level went right back up and the floodgates started opening.

    Nice look by the way, haven’t been here in months but glad to see you are experimenting too.

  24. Dave C. says:

    Sorry to be the wet blanket, Darren, but your quote at the top is misattributed.

    It was Benjamin Franklin that said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

  25. Darren Rowse says:

    Dave – actually I’ve seen the quote attributed to numerous people over the last day including Benjamin Franklin and also Rita Mae Brown. Have amended the post to show this.

  26. An interesting post. Ive not been blogging all that long, and so far, I’ve had pretty good responses with readers, comments, and social media, so i’m not quite at the ‘brick wall’ stage, however i think your post is relevant to blogs that are doing well at blogging. I think anytime is good for doing something new, whether your new to blogging, been blogging for years, have a really successful blog, or even a blog which has very little readers and traffic.

    Great post. thanks.

  27. Steve Wright says:

    Hey Darren, good post. Tower Defense is awesome. I probably play it a bit too much, especially at work. But the points you’re bringing up make a lot of sense. Doing the same things over and over are probably going to produce the same results.

    However, if its something you’re comfortable doing and the result isnt what you want, you need to change the way you do it. What feels uncomfortable to you will most likely produce a different result.

  28. I spend more time interacting with other bloggers than what I do on my own blog. In return, I get plenty of link love and lots of traffic.

    Fortunately, in the last week or so most of my traffic started coming from google. It seems that interacting with other bloggers has paid off in unexpected ways.

    One way to interact with other bloggers is to take part in their competitions. Whether you win or not is immaterial, the other blogger is sure to check out your blog. Plus you get another link to your blog from out there.

    I never took part in competitions because I thought they were a waste of time. I haven’t tried the guest posting idea yet, maybe it is time.