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Blogosphere Trends + A Challenge

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts) – Darren

Hi-dee-hoo, fellow bloggers! Thanks for joining me for another edition of the weekly blogosphere trends, provided by Regator.com. (Click any trend to see posts about it.) Darren’s post “The Key to Successful Blogging: Do Something!” from earlier this week resonated with a lot of you (and with me), so it seemed like the perfect week to look back at some of the important topics we’ve discussed in this column and issue a challenge: Kick procrastination in the butt by putting at least two of these techniques to work THIS week on your own blog. Then share a link to your post in the comments.

If you truly want to take it to the next level, download Darren’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, which has enough tasks to last you an entire month and is an incredible resource for any blogger…particularly those who are ready to stop talking about what they’ll do someday and start doing today. Let’s take a look at this week’s most popular stories…and your challenges:

1.  Ground Zero Mosque
Your challenge: If you normally write posts from a neutral standpoint, take a strong stance on at least one important and/or controversial issue this week.
Read more about: The importance of being opinionated
Example: VetVoice‘s “Muslims Already Have a Place of Worship at the Site of 9/11 Attacks” backs opinion up with carefully thought-out reasoning.

2.  Star Wars
Your challenge: If you normally steer clear of list posts, write one this week.
Read more about: Writing list posts
Example: Asylum‘s “Our 5 Favorite Moments From Star Wars Celebration V” does a countdown with clear subheads and photo accompaniment.

3.  Facebook Places
Your challenge: If you don’t make regular use of videos, give it a try this week in at least two posts.
Read more about: Effectively using videos
Example: Mashable‘s “How Foursquare Feels About Facebook Places” allows readers/viewers to get a better sense of the Foursquare VP’s reaction than mere text would’ve.

4.  Eat Pray Love
Your challenge: If you rarely or never do interview posts, do one this week. It can be any format (Q&A, video, podcast, etc.) but it must be an interview you’ve conducted yourself rather than one found elsewhere and reused.
Read more about: Effective interviewing
Example: MovieWeb‘s “EXCLUSIVE: Director Ryan Murphy Discusses Eat, Pray, Love!” is an exclusive Q&A.

5.  Pakistan
Your challenge: This week, use an image from a source you’ve never tried before. Make sure the licensing allows you to use it.
Read more about: Great places to find quality images
Example: The Big Picture‘s “21 Faces of The Pakistan Flood” uses photos to tell a powerful story.

6.  Dr. Laura
Your challenge: Make use of quotes in at least two different posts this week.
Read more about: Making the most of quotes
Example: Mediaite‘s “Dr. Laura Caller Speaks Out: ‘I Didn’t Want To Turn This Into A Racial Thing’” has a quote in the headline that piques curiosity.

7.  Iraq
Your challenge: Brainstorm at least five headlines for a post you’ve just finished rather than choosing the first that comes to mind. Consider each then choose the best one before publishing.
Read more about: What makes a great headline
Example: AmericaBlog‘s “Are Iraq combat operations really over?” asks a question to create curiosity then delivers by answering it in full.

8.  Social Security
Your challenge: Set a goal to inspire or encourage your readers to take some sort of action this week.
Read more about: Setting goals
Example: Elder Abuse‘s “‘Don’t Steal My Social Security’” encourages readers to sign a petition.

9.  Scott Pilgrim
Your challenge: Cover a story in a creative or unconventional way.
Read more about: How to dig deeper to create unique content
Example: ScreenRant’sWhy Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like?” identifies a wider trend tied to a popular story.

10. Justin Bieber
Your challenge: If you don’t normally write how-to posts, write one this week.
Read more about: Creating how-to posts that work
Example: Lifehacker‘s “How to Create Your Own Slowed-Down Ambient Epics” features both a video walk-through and step-by-step text instructions.

Are you up for the challenge? I honestly cannot wait to see what you’ve created. I look forward to reading each one. Please share your accomplishments in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

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Comments

  1. Really super prompts. I had a brilliant idea while reading this. I’m going to make a note of it straight away before I forget. Thank you.
    BTW what’s the Justin Bieber reference? I couldn’t get that one.

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks, I got an interesting post idea for this week all ready. May have to come back later and see if I can’t spark another idea.

    There looks to be some pretty interesting stories link too, I will check them out, thanks…

    Steve

  3. You’re awesome, Kimberley.

    It’s impossible to follow these challenges – and come out unenlightened.

    Even if I use one challenge a day (which in itself is a challenge), I’ll have a challenge backlog in dive into for ideas.

    “Your challenge: Brainstorm at least five headlines for a post you’ve just finished rather than choosing the first that comes to mind. Consider each then choose the best one before publishing.” – this is the challenge that resonated the most with me.

    I am so often guilty of just picking the first headline that comes my mind – or tweaking headlines for SEO – that I am going to take just this one thing seriously this week, and going forward.

  4. taking a hard stance on a controversial post has always worked well for me to drive viral traffic to a story. especially when promoting content to the Digg front page. some examples include a story I wrote back in 2007 on the huffington post how I thought the u.s. financial crisis was mostly due to homeowner’s lack of financial sense; in short my argument was that we wouldn’t have been in this mess if people wouldn’t have bought homes with mortgages that were higher than their salaries. another post that made the Digg front page was my reasons for stating that a BART police officer should have been held without bail after he shot a unarmed man. the police officer piece drove over 40,000 views in a few hours and made the most popular section of the huffington post.

  5. Zach Dexter says:

    Thanks for the challenges, Kimberly!

    You’ve reminded me of the importance of a headline. I’m always in a hurry to write, format, and publish, so I tend to weigh those tasks equally. Which is dumb.

    What is it about blogging that makes us think we’re too cool for SEO? Or is it just me?

  6. Hi Kimberley,
    I am always looking for new ways to assist and connect with my clients and you have offered ten suggestions I can look into to help my blog to a new level.

    I especially appreciate you offering live samples of what you are suggesting.

    Cheers,
    David

  7. GreenLava says:

    Great challenges, but I write Blogger tutorials almost exclusively. Which challenges do you think will fit in my niche (except no.10 of course).
    p.s. Justin Bieber and how-to posts -am I missing something?

  8. Max says:

    Great post, I like the challenges, they really give me something to work on right now.

  9. This is a challenging task. Spine-tingling perhaps? One that would require a lot of hard work. Well, I’d better be getting right on it then. Thanks for sharing.

  10. And oh, the Justin Bieber thing? This one is sooooo subtle and beautifully made. If you try to slow down an audio or music track 800x than normal using a software called “Paul’s Extreme Sound Stretch”, you can produce an audio entirely different from the original soundtrack, almost like you created it yourself from scratch. Lifehacker has a great tutorial on this thing on how you can make one yourself:)

  11. Tom Durkin says:

    Some really interesting tips here but id would be hard to get every single one in each week!

  12. Britty says:

    I really enjoy the Regator weekly posts on ProBlogger but I had to leave a comment this week because this one was phenomenal! Thanks for your tips and the relevancy of information. This will certainly be a resource to revisit again and again.

    All my best to you!

  13. Justin says:

    Great piece Kimberly!

    I was pleased to find that I’d already set myself some of those challenges following Darren’s article the other day that you made reference too, but I really appreciated the tip to encourage and inspire your readers to take some form of action! I think if you can do this for your readers, it is a great relationship builder and technique for maintaining high levels of reader retention. Coincidently, I think that you’ve just achieved this in your own post, as I’m now looking forward to starting work on this challenge later today:)

    Also, I’m currently undertaking Darren’s ’31 Days to Build a Better Blog’, and I agree, it really is a fantastic resource for taking your blog to the next level.

    Keep up the good work!

  14. Kimberly says:

    @Ann Lyken-Garner Thank you! I always keep a pocket-sized notebook with me for those brilliant ideas that hit me when I’m out and about. It’s really handy. And I think Bieber made the list because of a combination of Bieber-related stories rather than just one: someone realized that his music is really New Age-y and lovely when slowed down, he tweeted some other kid’s phone number, he and Kanye are rumored to be collaborating, etc. If it weren’t for the fact that I run Regator, I wouldn’t keep up with the kid to tell you the truth.

    @Steve @David @Max @Britty Thanks!

    @Kapil @Zach Let us know how your headline work goes. They’re so important because thanks to Twitter, directories like Regator, Facebook, RSS feeds, etc. they are often the only part of your post that is shown. They have to be strong enough to convince people to click.

    @GreenLava, I think you could work almost any of these into your niche. You might try 2, 3, 5, 7 or 8 for a good start. Oh, and for the Bieber explanation, see my first response (to Ann) or Jun’s explanation in the comments.

    @Jun Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

    @Tom You definitely don’t have to do each one in a week, just choose one or two that you think would help you with your weaknesses or would prompt you to try something new to you and start with those.

    @Justin Thank you and best of luck with your 31 Days work!

  15. Anita says:

    Thanks for the ideas. Some of them I have already tried to implement on my blog. Others were new to me, and I will try out some of them over the next few weeks. Specially liked the once about trying new sources for info, like photoes, and the brainstorming for better headlines. Thanks again!

  16. You have to write great headlines and matching content to stand out in a ever crowding blog field.

    With over a billion web pages on the net, you have to do something to break through.

    I love writing lists, how to posts and using videos in my blogs, Seven more to go.

  17. Audio books could be very useful and easy to use. Especially for language studying. But I’m tired of crap, what are some nice audio books?

  18. Ikenna says:

    Hi kimberly.
    I’ve been following your weeking publication on ‘Blogosphere Trend’ and it’s been worth the reading.

    I own a blog that is still struggling to take a place in the blog world. However I recently published a blog post- 2 weeks ago- that currently have over 100 comments. It was actually a post I wrote analyzing and predicting a scholarship scam which proved to be true… One thing that was so amazing was on how readers were willing to help spread the word at all cost. The post even led to the creation of a facebook group by one of the commenters.
    Here is the link to the post http://www.afterschoolafrica.com/2010/08/world-scholars-alumni-foundation.html
    Thanks to you Kimberly for sharing the Blogosphere Trend, it sure helps.

  19. Nick says:

    Great post, I like the challenges, they really give me something to work on right now.Even if I use one challenge a day (which in itself is a challenge), I’ll have a challenge backlog in dive into for ideas.Thanks for your tips and the relevancy of information.thanks for sharing………

  20. Lilli Fede says:

    This is a fantastic article. I’m always looking for great resources to share with our residents, and your piece is certainly worth sharing!

  21. Sarah says:

    Hi Kimberley,

    Thanks for the great trend information. I took you up on your challenge and published a Star Wars article with an SEO slant so that it remains relevant to my site. You can find it here:

    http://searchengineswebsite.com/seo-characters/

    Best,

    Sarah

  22. Coop says:

    Kimberly,
    I’ve taken your advice by writing a list post, and it also coincides with my day 2 of Darren’s 31 Day Build a Better Blog.

    Here’s the link to my post: 5 Tips to Add to Your “Stop Doing List” for Fat Loss Success
    http://www.stephencoopertraining.com/blog/2010/8/25/5-tips-to-add-to-your-stop-doing-list-for-fat-loss-success.html

    I will work on your other suggestions.
    Best

  23. Eat Pray Love movie are settings are in Indonesia, am I right?

  24. @Ikenna Congrats on the success of that post. I liked that you continued to research the topic and wrote a follow-up post to keep your readers informed on the issue.

    @Nick You’re very welcome. Even if you only try one a week, that’s still growth.

    @Lilli Thanks for sharing!

    @Sarah I love it! The post is fun, engaging, and puts a new and interesting slant on SEO. Great work.

    @Coop Thank you for sharing your list post. You’ve done a nice job of using clear, bold subheadings to create an easy-to-scan format, and the post’s positive tone is encouraging.

  25. Sarah says:

    Thanks Kimberly, I think I will start doing these tasks on a regular basis… a challenge is just what I need!