Close
Close

7 Simple Steps to Writing Great ‘How To’ Content on Your Blog

Yesterday I announced our ‘How To…’ group writing project and issued readers of ProBlogger with the challenge to go away and write a ‘How to‘ post for their blog.

On Twitter a number of people told me that they were having a little trouble with writing a ‘how to…’ post because it wasn’t their normal style of writing on their blog so I thought I’d jot down a few tips for writing ‘how to…’ content (something I’ve been creating for 10 years now on my blogs).

How to Write ‘How to’ Content on your Blog

What follows is how I personally tackle writing ‘how to’ or ‘tutorial’ style content. By no means is it the only way to do it – if you do it another way, please tell us about how you approach it in comments below – I’d love to learn from you!

1. Start with a Problem

Perhaps the best advice I can give on writing effective ‘how to’ posts on a blog is to put some time aside to identifying the problems that your readers have because the most effective how to posts are written about actual challenges that your readers might face.

As I’ve already written 11 tips on how to identify reader problems I won’t rehash them all here again – read this post!

2. Break it Down

With a problem or challenge that you want to solve for readers identified now is the time to break down the process for solving that issue.

With a problem in mind I generally take a little time before I start writing to come up with a list of steps to overcome the problem. I personally do this usually but jotting down some bullet points in a notepad (retro of me I know) or in a text document on my computer).

If the problem I’m writing about is more complex I also occasionally will break down the process for solving it using a MindMap (I use MindNode either on my iPad or computer).

I find by identifying what I want to write about before I start writing that I’m much more effective in writing the post because I know where I’m headed!

I also find having this helpful because as I’m actually writing I will often have other ideas for the post (or for followup posts) on the fly and I jot these down on the list so I don’t lose them.

3. Writing Tips

With bullet points jotted down and an idea of how the post is going to shape up I then begin writing. I usually start with a title and an intro (however they rarely end up as I write them at first as I usually go back to it at the end and make it fit what I’ve actually written).

With a basic intro in place I then take each bullet point and begin to expand them.

As I write I begin to get into the flow for the post and make a decision on what style of post it’ll be.

For example with this post I’m writing now I decided as I was writing my previous points that I would break the post up in to sections because I had enough to write on each point that I’d probably be writing several paragraphs for each one.

Alternately if as I started writing I found I only had a sentence to write on each post I probably would have written the post more as a short ‘list’ post with lots of short sharp points.

Or if what I had to write leant itself more to an ‘essay’ style post I’d have written in that form.

I know some people probably determine what style of post to write before they write – but for me I find that evolves after I’ve begun to write!

The writing takes time for me – I will usually have a go at writing the whole post in a sitting but will often then go back to it later and add more, edit some parts and rewrite others.

4. Give the Post a Critical Review

With the bulk of the post written I then give it a read through with a ‘critical eye’.

I don’t want to publish a post on my blogs that isn’t useful on some level to readers – posts just for the sake of posting don’t cut it with me so I read through what I’ve written with a critical question at the forefront of my mind – the question is ‘SO WHAT?’

I got this idea of Chris Garrett who shared at an early ProBlogger Event that he asked himself the question constantly as he wrote to ensure that his posts actually had a point and mattered.

Other questions to ask at this point might include:

  • What’s the Point of this post?
  • What impact will this post have my reader?
  • Will this actually solve my readers problem?
  • What questions will my readers still be asking at the end of this post?
  • Have I clearly communicated what I’m trying to say?

I find that in asking these kinds of questions of what I’ve written that I’m often driven to rework the post to make it more useful.

5. Add Depth

The post is hopefully shaping up at this point and is getting close to publishing but there’s an opportunity at this point to add more depth and really blow your readers away but making it KILLER CONTENT!

Here are a few ways to take a good post and make it great by adding depth to it!

  1. Give Examples – if you’ve got a practical example of what you’re teaching – give it! It’ll take your post out of ‘theory’ land and show readers that your post is practical!
  2. Add Illustrations/Charts/Screenshots/Videos – if there is some visual way to illustrate what you’re teaching you’ll significantly increase the effectiveness of the post by adding them. It’ll also give your post a visual point of interest that grabs their attention draws them into the content.
  3. Add Your Opinion – theory comes alive when you inject a little opinion into your post. It shows that you not only know ‘how’ to do what you’re talking about but that you ‘feel’ something about the subject matter too! Opinion is also great at drawing readers into commenting on your post.
  4. Suggest Further/Related Reading – adding links into your posts gives readers the option to read more. You can do this by adding links into the body of the post when you mention points you or someone else has written about or perhaps create a ‘further reading’ section at the bottom of the post.
  5. Add Quotes – if you can find someone else having said something on your topic – add it in – it’ll add another perspective to what you’re writing.
  6. Interview Someone – can’t find a quote that someone has said on your topic? Ask someone for a comment/quote to add! Send a few people a question or two on your topic and add in their responses. It takes a little effort but can add a lot to a post!
  7. Tell a Story – often ‘how to’ posts can be a little dull if they’re technical or theoretical – so adding in a short personal story or anecdote (a relevant one) can personalise the post.
  8. Add a FAQ Section – during your ‘critical review’ attempt to identify what questions your readers might be asking at the end of reading your post. Add a FAQ section to answer these questions (you might add to this if readers ask more questions in comments)!

Adding depth to a post takes time and effort – but it really can lift a good post to make it great!

6. Format Your Post

My style of writing is one where I tend to be thinking a little about formatting the post as I’m writing. I generally write posts adding in the html heading tags, bolding main points, adding lists as I write – however before publishing I will often give the post a bit of a review to make sure it looks right.

At this point I’ll often find an image or two to give visual interest, add or edit headings and think about how to make the post more easily scannable.

7. Tightening Up the Top and Tail

First and Last impressions count for so much!

Your title needs to grab attention and draw people to read your first line. Your first line is almost as important and needs to draw people to read your next line.

I think about my title and intro before I start writing, while I’m writing and then after I’ve written the post. It is crucial and worth giving time to.

A good introduction should give readers an understanding of what they’ll learn by reading on – however I also think it’s important to give readers a ‘reason’ for them to read on. Personalising the need and helping readers to see why overcoming it is going to give them much more of a reason to actually read what you’re writing.

Further Reading: check out these 8 tips for crafting great blog titles. and check out this post which gives you 11 techniques for writing your opening lines.

Also important is thinking about how you end your post.

With ‘how to’ content one effective way to end a post is to think about calling your readers to some kind of ‘action’.

If you’ve just taught them to do something your post will be SO much more effective if your reader actually implements the things that they’ve just learnt – so call them to DO it.

Giving readers homework or some kind of challenge or practical assignment is going to really do your readers a big favour – which in turn will make them more grateful for the post (and your blog). Encourage them to do something with what they’ve learnt!

Write Your ‘How To’ Post

OK – the time has come to write your ‘how to’ blog post. The only way to improve writing this type of content is to practice it again and again so get to it!

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed – I suggest choosing a small problem to solve. ‘How to’ posts need not be 5000 word tutorials – they could be as simple as a list of 10 steps – each one a simple sentence!

Once you’ve written your ‘How to’ post please share a link to it in yesterdays Group Writing Project so we can see it!

Group Writing Project: Write a ‘How To…’ Post

Update: the competition aspect of this project is over. I’ve listed all the posts submitted (and the winners) here.

Years ago here on ProBlogger we used to run ‘group writing project’ where I’d nominate a style of posts and then all readers would go away and write a new post in that style to practice their blogging… and then would come back here and leave us a link to the post.

The Project had a few benefits:

  1. first and foremost it gave us all a chance to practice a certain style of writing
  2. secondly it was an opportunity for bloggers to show off what they could do
  3. bloggers reported seeing more traffic arrive on their blog
  4. bloggers reported making great new connections with other bloggers

So… it’s time for another group writing project!

This week we’re going to do one of the most popular ones from the past – the theme is ‘HOW TO…‘.

Yes – your challenge is to write and then come back and share a link to a ‘How to…’ post. Update: I’ve since published a 7 step guide to writing How to content on a blog.

Please note – for this project to be of any real benefit to you as a ‘writing’ project it is about writing a new post – not just sharing a link to an old ‘How to’ post that you’ve already written.

Feel free to write a ‘how to’ post on anything that is relevant to your niche.

Prize

To give you a little added incentive to participate I’m going to put up a little prize for one participant who submits a NEW post (sorry but you’re ineligible if it is an older post).

One person who writes a new post and who shares a link to it in comments below before Friday 22nd March at midnight (US Eastern time) will be randomly drawn to win the full library of 6 ProBlogger eBooks (worth $250 if you bought them all separately).

Here’s How To Participate

Here’s how to participate and put yourself in the running for the prize (please note – one entry per person – not per blog and please only submit NEW posts).

1. Write a ‘how to’ post

  • Be as creative as you’d like – take it in any direction you want – it can be on any topic (keep it clean and ‘family friendly please), it can be any length, it can be serious, funny, it can be a list post, a rant, an essay, a pictorial or video post… etc
  • Give your post a good title. Once all the posts are listed it’ll only be your title that sets it apart from others. It doesn’t have to have the words ‘how to’ in the title – but if can if you wish.
  • Feel free to write your post in your own first language – I’ve previously included a number of non-english posts and am excited by the prospect of making this a multi-lingual project.
  • Please consider putting a link back to this post on your post so that your readers know you’re participating. You don’t have to do this – but it’d be appreciated to help grow the project.

2. Let us Know about your post

  • Once you’ve posted your How To post let us know about it by leaving a comment below. Please make sure you include your name, your post title and the URL to your How to post.
  • Comments must be received by midnight on Friday 22nd March to be included in the prize draw.

3. Surf Surf Surf

  • This is where the project has potential to get pretty cool. Surf the submissions received in the comments. Leave comments, make connections with other ProBlogger readers and enjoy reading what others have to say. By surfing each others links you’ll hopefully find some cool new blogs but also make some new connections (which may well lead to people visiting your blog too!

4. Link, Tweet, Share

  • There is no formal ‘judging’ of the ‘how to posts’ received as this is not a competition. Instead – I encourage you to surf through the links left in the comments below and not only comment but share those with your own network that you like the most. Link to them on your blog (you might even like to write a ‘top 5′ post), Tweet out some links to the ones you like or share them on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc. Share a little love and you might find it comes back at you!
  • Probably the best part of the last group project was the amount of inter-linking I see happening between participating bloggers as a result of their posts. It’s obvious that people found new blogs through it and that the benefits of participating was way beyond getting a link here on ProBlogger me but flowed on to a lot of new connections and links between other bloggers.

5. Prizes

  • Over the weekend after this ends I’ll randomly draw a winner and announce them on the blog. Depending how many submissions we receive I may even try to compile them all into a list (although last time we had ALOT so that may be beyond me).

I can’t wait to see how this week’s project goes – your time to start writing starts…. now! Have fun!

Update: the competition aspect of this project is over. I’ve listed all the posts submitted (and the winners) here.

How to Get More Content for Your Blog

This is a guest post by Kristi Hines.

One of the biggest challenges that bloggers face – whether they are blogging for themselves or their business – is creating enough content. Most people can’t just write a blog post in 15 minutes. Creating quality content takes a major investment of time and resources. If you’re struggling to create enough content, then here are some great ways to get additional content for your blog.

Supplement with Content Curation

If your challenge when it comes to content creation is coming up with original blog topics, then one way to fill up your editorial calendar is by adding curated content.  Curated content is simply compiling and organizing content from other sources into one post. The Ultimate Resource Guide to Guest Blogging and Blogger Outreach is an example – it is simply a list of networks and posts from other sites on how to have successful guest blogging and blog outreach campaigns.

Note that these kinds of posts are not time savers – you still have to find the best pieces of content to curate, organize everything logically, give each piece a description, and compile it all together. But it can be a lifesaver when you’re having trouble coming up with new ideas while giving your audience some awesome content to chew on.

Tips for Great Curation Pieces

  • Don’t only use curation pieces. It might give the impression that you have nothing original to say. For example, if you have five new posts a week, you could consider one curation post per week. If you have one new post a week, you could consider one curation post per month.
  • Think about curation topics that could include one or more of your own posts. In the above-mentioned example, I included a post from the KISSmetrics blog on how to do guest blogging. This can help you highlight your own content as well as others.
  • Use Google Reader to subscribe to your favorite sources. Google Reader has a great search function, so if you wanted to curate resources on a particular subject, you can use the search to find posts from every blog you are subscribed to via RSS.

I’ve found that content curation comes in handy in a couple of ways. For my blog, it gives me a weekly roundup post to rely upon with no inspiration needed. Even blogs like HubSpot and Social Media Examiner have their own version of weekly curated content. And for the blogs I regularly contribute to, it was easy to find content related to their niche to group together in a large lists like 45 Posts on A/B, Multivariate, and Usability Testing and smaller lists like 8 Useful Recruitment Infographics.

Repurpose Content

Another way to create content for your blog that doesn’t include coming up with all new post ideas is by repurposing your pre-existing content. This simply means that you refresh, reorganize, and recreate content that has worked for you in the past. You can also take content in one format (such as video) and repurpose it into another format (such as a slideshow).

Tips for Repurposing Old Content

  • Find your most popular blog posts that are over a year old. You can do this by sorting your WordPress posts by going to All Posts and sorting them by the number of comments. You can also use your Google Analytics and look under Content > Site Content > All Pages. This will show you your top content based on number of views.
  • Break overview posts into several detailed posts. For example, I could take this post and create five individual posts that include in-depth details about content curation, repurposing content, attracting guest bloggers, hiring freelance writers, and connecting with businesses for content.
  • Turn a series of detailed posts into an overview post. As opposed to the above tactic, if you have a series of detailed posts on one theme, you could create an overview posts that summarizes each and links back to the detailed posts. This way, you have a new piece of content and you get a chance to highlight your previous work.

Tips for Repurposing Other Formats of Content

  • Transcribe your videos. If you are creating video content (vlogging, video interviews, video testimonials, video tutorials, etc.), then you can easily turn your videos into blog content by embedding the video into a blog post followed by a transcription of what is said throughout the video.
  • Transcribe your podcasts. Similar to video content, if you are a podcaster, you can transcribe your podcasts in a blog post.
  • Add commentary to infographics. This one you can with your own infographics or infographics made by others. Infographics usually include a lot of information that you may – or may not – agree with. Embed the infographic into a blog post (giving credit where credit is due) and then add your commentary above or below the infographic. Talk about the points you agree with, the points you don’t, and add some additional information that may not have been included. You can see an example of this in my post on Top 25 Hosting Companies that includes an infographic plus additional details.
  • Summarize presentations. If you speak at conferences or simply create presentations for Slideshare, you can embed those presentations into a blog post and further explain the bullet points and slides.

One of my goals for 2013 is to produce more eBooks, but I find it hard to commit to any piece of writing longer than a blog post, especially now that I’m a new mom. So I’m looking at repurposing as the answer by staring my next eBook as a series of blog posts. So far I have 40+ post drafts ready to be written. Once they are done, they will be repackaged nicely into an eBook.

Attract Guest Bloggers

If you don’t have time at all to create yourself, you can look towards outside resources to create content for you. The first (and free) resource for blog content is guest bloggers. Guest bloggers will provide content in exchange for exposure with your audience – they usually just want an author bio that includes a backlink to their website.

Tips for Attracting Guest Bloggers

  • Create a page on your blog with guest blogging guidelines. Title the page “Write for Us: Guest Blogging Guidelines” or similar – this includes keyword phrases that guest bloggers typically search when looking for guest blogging opportunities. Be specific about exactly what you want when it comes to content submissions so you can get the content you want and have a quick response when you receive low quality submissions.
  • Link to your guest blogging guidelines often. Link to it in your blog’s navigation bar or sidebar. Also include a quick link at the end of posts that your blog is open to guest post submissions. If you’re publishing guest posts, include a link at the top where you say, “This is a guest post by…”
  • Share your guest blogging guidelines on social media. If you have a good-sized audience that happens to include bloggers, sharing your guest blogging guidelines page on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ can help you get more guest bloggers.

Tips for Working with Guest Bloggers

  • Be sure to quality check incoming guest posts.  Some guest bloggers are marketers in disguise, and there are bad marketers out there that will submit poor quality content or content that has been published elsewhere. Read the post thoroughly and do a quick Google search for a sentence or two to make sure it is unique content.
  • Make sure you stand by the information presented in the guest post. If you are adamantly against something, you don’t want to publish content by someone else that is for it. If facts are presented without reference, make sure they are true. The last thing you want is to have to defend guest content yourself. This also includes checking the website that the guest author is linking to – make sure it is something you wouldn’t mind your audience visiting.
  • Encourage the guest author to participate in the community. Specifically, encourage them to revisit the post and answer comments. This way you are getting content and community management all in one.

Last year, when I was fully focused on client work, I depended on guest bloggers to keep my blog afloat. And that they did – I had regularly scheduled guest posts two to three times a week. Although I am changing up my blog strategy this year (similar to the ProBlogger evolution), I was grateful to have such great content on my site from many talented authors.

Get Completed Articles

If you want to bypass interacting with writers for content, your next best bet is to look for networks that offer ready to go content. Networks like MyBlogGuest and GuestBlogIt allow you to connect with guest bloggers as well as browse through completed articles that you can publish on your blog.

If you don’t have time to browse through lots of articles, networks like PostJoint let you choose topics and then sends you a daily email when new content is available for you to browse. The email includes the content titles and the first sentence so you can preview them right in your inbox.

Tips for Getting Great Content

  • Quality check. Just like you would do with guest blog posts, you need to quality check articles you are getting from any network for value, accuracy, and whether the content has been published elsewhere. Just because most networks require writers to submit unique content does not mean that they all follow the rules.
  • Visit the websites listed in the author bios. While some article submissions are by bloggers looking for more exposure, others are from businesses looking to market their website. Be sure to check out their links to make sure they are websites you would be OK with your audience visiting.
  • Be prepared to answer comments. Since you are getting whole articles, you won’t be getting the author who wrote them to participate in your community. Hence you will need to be prepared to answer your comments and discuss any points in the articles you post.

If your blog isn’t quite at the stage of attracting guest bloggers, then this might be a good route to go. I also found it useful to grab pre-written, unique content for my blog on the days where my scheduled guest blogger missed their submission deadline. This ensured that my blog didn’t go silent on a day people expected a new post.

Hire Freelance Writers

If you have some money to invest in your blog and are not having luck with guest bloggers, then you can always hire one or more freelance writers. The advantage to freelance writers is that you have more control over what they write and can insist upon edits when necessary.

Tips for Finding Freelancer Writers

  • Invest in quality writers. Depending on your niche, you probably won’t be able to hire $5 article writers. When it comes to quality content, you really do get what you pay for.
  • Look for freelance writers who write for similar blogs. Run a Google search for site:domain.com “freelance writer” where domain.com is a blog that contains content similar to what you need for your blog. This will help you find experienced freelance writers in your niche and give you a chance to see how well their work is received. This will ensure you have writers who understand blogging etiquette and community participation, something you may not get out of the average article writer.
  • Contact prolific guest bloggers. Use a similar searches such as site:domain.com “guest blogger” or site:domain.com “guest post by” to find guest bloggers in your niche who may be looking to earn extra income through freelance blogging.

Tips for Working with Freelancer Writers

  • Be specific about your needs. Unlike guest bloggers, you can be really specific with what you need from your freelance writer since you are paying for their services. Suggest topics, give editorial guidelines, and let them know what you expect from start to finish.
  • Set a schedule. If you want a steady supply of content, you need to set a regular schedule for content delivery. Otherwise, you may contact your writer for a post you need ASAP to find they are already committed to other projects.
  • Pay on time. Just like happy employees produce quality work, happy freelancers are going to do the same. The best way to keep your freelancer writers happy is to pay them on time, otherwise they will spend the time they could be using to create content for your blog to play bill collector.

Though I’ve never hired a freelance writer for my blog, many blog owners and businesses have hired me to create content for them. It works out great because then they can focus on monetization and revenue generating tasks while ensuring their blog is kept up-to-date with quality content.

On to you…

Have you used any of these strategies to get content for your blog? Please share your experiences plus additional tactics for increasing your blog content in the comments!

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and professional blogger who writes about blog marketing strategy at Kikolani. She has also contributed to well-known online marketing blogs including Social Media Examiner, KISSmetrics, Unbounce, and Search Engine Journal. Follow her on Twitter or Google+.

Broaden Your Blog’s Reach Through Innovative Content [Case Study]

This guest post is by Tommy Walker of Inside The Mind

Back in November last year, we ran a crowd funding campaign to bring back Inside The Mind for a second season.

Even though we didn’t reach our overall campaign goals, we learned two very important things:

1. Unexpected success

Our campaign converted at 5.6%. Our goal initially was to raise $100,000 and even though we didn’t reach that, what we did learn was that the people who were watching were very happy to support the show.

When we looked at the sponsors list, we saw many names that we recognized, but there were also quite a few we didn’t. This let us know that we had broken beyond our initial reach with the show, and people who we’ve never interacted with on a one-to-one basis believed in what we were trying to do.

2. Expanding our reach

When we looked at the conversion rate for that campaign, compared to the overall traffic numbers, it started to look a lot like a basic algebra equation.

The “X” that we had to solve the equation for in this case represented broader reach.

The primary way to expand reach, I believe, is through content.

The concept

One of the things that I’ve seen work very well for others in expanding their own reach is to conduct killer interviews, so I decided to give this a try.

My concept, The Mindfire Chats, is a way to conduct multiple interviews at the same time. Here’s an example.

Our panelists come from a variety of backgrounds, yet discuss a subject that shares a core principle with online marketing. This is very intentional as I want to dig into deeper truths about online marketing principles but without the industry bias, jargon, mechanics, or politics.

My brand mission is to bring the concepts of online marketing into the mainstream. Inside The Mind does this by fusing internet-generation humor with top level online marketing advice.

And The Mindfire Chats follow on well from this—it takes that ethos a step further by taking a deeper thinking approach on core principles.

Getting inspiration for the idea

One of the things I realized about half-way through filming the first season of Inside The Mind”was that at the core of all of this, I am an artist.

Yes, I’m an online marketing strategist, but I’m also an animator, composer, on-air personality, writer, video editor, comedian, PR person, and so on.

Because Inside The Mind itself was an experiment (and one I was terrified to try at first), and it went well, I think that gave me a freedom that many bloggers in the online marketing space don’t feel.

I don’t believe my core audience follows me necessarily because of “what I know” and what I share. Rather, they watch because they want to see what I do next to push the bounds of what content is and what it means to be in this space.

That being said, I make a point to interact with most anyone who’s on my email list, so I’ve learned a great deal about who they are, and what they want.

Part of what made me think this content approach would work was that it follows a similar blueprint to what’s proven to work, but it’s different enough to make it unique to me and my brand.

Setting content goals

I have a few goals for The Mindfire Chats. Firstly, I want this content to dig into the core concepts of online marketing from as many different angles as possible.

On our second chat, we had Brian Clark of Copyblogger discuss storytelling with Emmy Award-winning documentarian, Doug Pray, and John Jacobsen, a very well known script doctor who hosts his own show with over 30 million viewers.

Really, no matter what any of these guys say on the subject, it’s not going to be wrong. How could it be, if they’ve achieved what so very few others have?

What makes it interesting though, is when their field experiences start to differ, and tell a different story. It’s even more fascinating when the panelists start asking each other questions about each other’s experiences and you can tell they’re learning from each other.

It shows our audience that even when you’ve “made it,” you’re never done learning. To be able to facilitate the kinds of connections that could potentially push the space forward in a more positive direction is very fulfilling.

Of course, from a purely selfish standpoint, my goal is to cause a ruckus, build a viewership, and get more people turned on to my brand.

We’re also using the chats as an entry point for sponsorship relations for both The Mindfire Chats and Inside The Mind.

The practicalities

I can’t take all the credit for getting this content idea off the ground. My producer Nate Wright of Small Biz Triage is the other half of this, and he’s really the one responsible for the organization of it all.

Because I’ve been active in the online marketing space for the past few years, I’ve built a pretty solid professional network. So basically, setting up the chats was really just a matter of sending out some emails.

In truth, though, getting to the position where that was possible has meant guest blogging like a professional over the years and making a good enough impression with people to the point that they at least know my name (which is important for standing out in the inbox).

When Nate approached me about getting this concept off the ground, we basically compared our rolodexes and started mashing up the panelists.

After sending out the first couple emails saying, “Hey, you interested?” Nate works out the schedule, and gets our panelists all savvy with the Google+ Hangouts. Meanwhile, I’m researching the panelists and coming up with the questions.

That way, when it’s show time, I’m not being pulled in a million different directions, and everyone gets to look as professional as possible.

Technology

The technology that we use to produce this content is pretty simple:

  • webcam
  • microphone
  • broadband connection
  • headphones
  • Google+ hangouts on air (with the Hangout toolbox plugin)
  • Gimp 2.0 for the lower thirds.

Right now I’m using the onboard webcam and the built-in microphone on my Mac for the chats—you can get by with what you have.

I imagine as our sponsorship revenue grows, we’ll invest in better versions of everything, so we can have a consistently high level of broadcast quality, but for the time being, it’s not necessary.

Everything I’m using right now is either built into my computer, or is free, open source software. At most, I might consider using my external webcam, but even that costs less than $100.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to create compelling content.

Getting the word out

When you come up with a new content idea like this, you want to get the word out to as many people as possible.

Right now, in these early stages, my promotion strategy is pretty low-key. I email the list, update the Facebook pages, Twitter, and Google+, and I send a few emails to a few key influencers I know who may be interested.

I tried doing a blitz to some of the bigger online news outlets like Mashable, TNW, RWW, and so on, but I didn’t hear anything back. So instead of trying to do that a million times over, I’d much rather keep a low profile and let this grow more organically.

That said, since I’ve shifted my focus more towards The Mindfire Chats and Inside The Mind, as I work on the guest posting portion of my outreach strategy, I’m asking host blogs permission to embed the relevant content within my posts—but even that is permission-based.

I do what I do because I love making things click for the people who interact with my stuff, not necessarily because I’m looking for manufactured fame. While the goal for the chats is to extend my brand’s reach, I would much rather that be a natural by-product of the content we’re creating than by an aggressive “hey, look at me” strategy.

Sharing the love

When bloggers develop new content ideas, they’re often tempted to keep the content on their blogs, and not to let others use it. But as I said, I’m asking other blogs I guest post on to let me embed a selected chat in the post on their blog.

I think the question of whether you share your content—as in my case, allowing it to be embedded on other sites—has a lot to do with the type of content that’s being published.

I talk about this in the content development episode of Inside The Mind where there are basically four types of content:

  1. viral: content meant to be spread and shared
  2. discussion: content that drives comments
  3. lead: content that gets people to subscribe or fill out a lead generation form
  4. sales: like lead content, but drives people to a purchase over everything else.

That said, both Inside The Mind and The Mindfire Chats are meant to be shared and start discussions. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter to me where that discussion is going on, as long as it’s happening.

As we saw a moment ago, I have some very specific goals for the video content, and part of that is for it to be shared, so making it easy to decouple The Mindfire Chats from my blog was very intentional.

My thought on the video content is that it’s very difficult to fake being me. My face, my energy—everything about what I do in the videos really … well, it would be really hard for someone else to try and pass that off as their own. On that same note if I point to a URL in the video, it’s much harder to replace that text on the screen, or change the annotations that link to the other videos on my Youtube channel.

So I really don’t mind if someone tries to embed the chats elsewhere—ultimately Youtube gives me more credit for simply having the content embedded.

Of course, if someone were to rip off my lead content, I would be furious. However, by design, my lead content is put in the “less sexy” parts of my website, and takes a little work to get to. I trust that people who want to work with me privately are able to navigate a website if they’re really interested in taking our relationship to the next level.

As a writer online, I believe it’s nearly impossible to avoid someone else stealing, remixing and taking credit for your work. It’s sad, but it’s also a losing battle to try and fight.

On the other hand, as I’ve started to mature as a writer, I’m learning how to allow a real vulnerability into my work and give it it’s own unique voice.

My goal now with the writing that falls into the “viral” and “discussion” categories is to be so good that people want to rip it off.

Quite honestly, when I saw my work get scraped for the first time, I felt a sense of accomplishment that what I was saying was powerful enough that someone else tried to take credit for it.

Now I just make sure I have a strong interlinking strategy so that in case that does happen, I get those links from external websites.

The progress so far

So far, we are meeting our goals with The Mindfire Chats.

We’ve already engaged a potential sponsor, and by the time this post is published, we’ll probably be well on our way with them.

Our second episode is already scheduled to be embedded on some pretty high-profile blogs, and we’ve gotten extremely positive feedback from the people who’ve attended the live sessions.

It’s still all fairly new right now, but it looks like we’re headed in a positive direction that will let us take everything to the next level.

For now, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed, focusing on the next panelists, and asking questions that unearth truly valuable insight.

That’s the secret to creating truly great content—in any format.

Tommy Walker is an online marketing strategist and the host of Inside The Mind and The Mindfire Chats, fresh and entertaining shows that aim to shake up online and content marketing.

11 Tips to Breaking Bloggers Block Through Solving Reader Problems

Problems are OpportunitiesHave you ever had bloggers block? If so – you’re not alone. Almost every blogger I’ve ever asked has admitted to having it at least once!

Below is some practical tips on how to break through it (including a little homework to action it).

Recently I was speaking with a blogger of a ‘how to‘ type blog who told me that he’d been struggling over the last few weeks with coming up with things to write about.

We chatted for 15 or so minutes about a range of things he could do to break through the problem but one that we kept coming back to was the idea of identifying problems to solve for his readers.

“Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem a turned it into an opportunity.” Joseph Sugarman

It’s not rocket science but almost every time I sit down to write any blog post on my blogs I start off by identifying a problem that I or my readers have and then try to write a post that solves that problem.

In my experience – when you solve a person’s problem you’re going to create an impression upon them and have every chance of them thinking of you (and your blog) next time they come up against a problem.

Solve enough problems over time for a person and you’ll find them coming back again and again… and bringing others back with them too.

Of course for some bloggers identifying a problem that readers have is easy but for others coming up with a problem every single day to solve is tougher. 

7 Ways to Identify Readers Problems to Solve

In my ‘31 Days to Build a Better Blog’ eBook  Day 16 is all about solving a readers problem and in it I share 7 ways to identify these problems.

Here’s the headings (I write more on each one in the eBook but hopefully just the titles will give you some clues):

  1. Solve Your own problems (what problem did you have a year or two ago that you’ve solved?)
  2. Look for questions in search referrals (what people search Google for to arrive on your site can give insights)
  3. Analyze internal searches (use a tool like Lijit to track the internal searches on your site)
  4. Ask Readers for their Questions (run a survey, poll or even a focus group with readers)
  5. Look on other Sites in your niche (the questions people ask on forums can be particularly good)
  6. Use Social Media to Gather Questions/Problems (this is a gold mind – just do a search on your topic)
  7. Ask Family and Friends (the people around you will often give you great ideas on this)

4 More Tips to Breaking Bloggers Block Through Identifying Reader Problems

Here’s four more tips on how to identify problems among your readers that I’ve not written about previously:

  1. I personally find that coming up with ‘problems’ to solve is easier done when you put aside half an hour or so and come up with a whole heap of them. Put aside time to ‘Brainstorm’ or ‘Mindmap’ the problems your readers might have and come up with a list of them so that you’ve always got a supply of them when you need to write a post. 
  2. I would also highly recommend that you create some kind of system for capturing and recording the problems you see your readers having. I have a folder inside dropbox that I constantly am adding notes to which contain topics, questions, problems etc that I could write about one day. I know other bloggers use physical notebooks while others use apps like Evernote. 
  3. As you’re writing posts be on the look out for tangents or questions you ask yourself while you’re writing. I often find that when I’m writing a post that there are ideas hitting me that I can’t include in the post that I’m writing but that could be good to do a followup post on – capture them!
  4. It is more than ok to come back to an idea that you’ve written about before to build upon. In many ways that is what I’m doing with this post. I took 7 ideas I’ve written about before above but am also adding new material to it based upon what I’ve learned since writing previously on the topic.

HOMEWORK for Bloggers with Bloggers Block

If you have bloggers block I challenge you to put aside 15-30 minutes to go on a ‘problem hunt’.

Choose a couple of the 7 places I mention above (my favourite is starting with identifying my own past and present problems) and see how many you can come up with.

In doing so you’ll also be creating a list of posts to write.

Let us know how you go in comments below!

The Science of Storytelling: 6 Ways to Write More Persuasive Stories

Guest post by Gregory Ciotti.

When it comes to crafting “words that sell”, the research shows us that stories are among the most persuasive forms of writing out there.

Persuasive writing is an essential part of blogging—there’s no two ways about it. So if you plan on selling anything, connecting†deeply with your readers, or going viral with a post that bares all about your life (like Jon Morrow did), you better be prepared to create stories that actually move people.

Why do stories work so well?

They work because “transportation leads to persuasion,” and as such, if you can capture your reader’s attention, you can nudge them towards being a customer or a brand advocate who supports your business at every turn.

That’s all good and fun… but how exactly can you write more persuasive stories?

Today, I’ve got some academic research that will show you how!

The six elements of better stories

According to some fascinating research by Dr. Philip Mazzocco and Melanie Green, called Narrative Persuasion in Legal Settings: What’s the Story?, stories are powerful because of their ability to affect emotional beliefs in a way that logical arguments just can’t touch.

That is to say, stories get in “under the radar” because we are so open to hearing them. We tend to block out sales pitches or “do as I say” styles of dictation, but stories are inviting, personal, and capture our imagination.

The researchers looked at persuasive aspects of stories in the court room, which is certainly one of the hardest places to craft stories, as you have another person (the other lawyer) trying to shoot down your arguments at every turn.

From their research, Mazzocco and Green found six consistent elements that are apart of startingly effective stories…

1. Audience

As a blogger, you have far more control over this aspect than a lawyer does, so pay attention!

Above, I mentioned a post by Jon Morrow than went viral here on Problogger.net. While the story was an amazing one, a key element of that post that many might miss is that Jon constructed it for a very particular audience: those looking to do what he’s done (i.e. turn blogging into a lifestyle-sustaining business).

Picking Problogger.net was perfect because he knew the audience would be receptive to such a story. He’s done it time and time again—here’s another post on Copyblogger in a similar vein that addresses fighting for your dreams.

How can you implement this critical technique in your own efforts?

The answer lies in finding your target customer (or reader) and crafting your message and content entirely around them. What are their hopes, fears, and dreams? You better know if you hope to stay with them after they leave the page.

If you can’t identify this ideal reader, then who are you really writing for? Without this information, it’s much harder, if not impossible, to tell a really persuasive story: you need to have the right audience in mind first.

If you’re going “off-site” (via a guest post) like Jon did, then you also need to be careful in choosing another blogger’s platform: be sure to write for their audience.

2. Realism

This one may seem surprising, but it’s actually not if you look into the reasoning.

Although fiction stories are popular, the best ones are always easy to relate to on some level. Although you may not be a WWII spy or a dragon-slaying knight, you can relate to the emotions, struggles, and thoughts of the characters.

Roger Dooley put this best when he said:

Even if you are painting a fictional picture with the story, its elements need to relate to the reality that the audience is familiar with, for example, basic human motivations.

Make sure your stories have something the audience can relate to on a deeper level, beyond the events that are being told.

For instance, in Joel Ryan’s article titled, An Unexpected Ass-Kicking, he relays the tale of meeting the inventor of the computer.

The story wouldn’t have gone viral without another element, though: Joel connected the tale to his readers’ own psyches by relating how it’s important to not be afraid of things that “haven’t been done before”, because if Russell Kirsch had believed that, we wouldn’t have the computer today>

3. Delivery

In the same way that a comedian’s timing is practically everything, Mazzacco and Green found that story delivery was critical to crafting a tale people could get wrapped up in.

Delivery is a mix of pacing, flow, and hitting readers with heavy lines at the perfect moment.

One of my favorite examples (in fiction) is how George R.R. Martin, author of the A Song of Fire and Ice series, ends his chapters with a surprising close or a startling realization.

This example isn’t a story, but it perfectly demonstrates my point: Brian Clark’s post called, The Writer Runs This Show is a fantastic demonstration of using dramatic pacing throughout a post.

Note how he interrupts the manifesto with “The writer runs this show,” over and over to drive his point home.

4. Imagery

Did the sun rise, or did the sun’s rays reflect rainbows off of the crisp morning dew?

Interesting research on the matter says that your stories should be describing the latter: the human mind gets swept up in stories only when the visuals are painted clearly.

Transportation (the key to story persuasion) cannot happen if you use vague details and boring language.

You have to craft the scene with startling detail to wrap your reader up in your message: they need to share in the struggle you went through, the joys you encountered, and the doubts you battled.

If you read Benny Hsu’s post on his first iPhone App store feature (and his subsequent $30,000 week), you can feel his excitement with every word; you’re not just getting the play-by-play of what happened.

Let readers see what you’re “seeing” in your tale, and they’ll be more willing to go along with the journey.

5. Structure

While some movies, like Memento, can get away with switching things up once or twice, the classics always follow this one golden rule: keep story structure simple.

People prefer stories that follow a logical manner, for example: elements of suspense are most effective when they’re established early to keep people engaged, plot twists are best saved for the climax, and having a strong ending makes a story more memorable.

This is especially true for writing in the business world. Let your creativity shine through the actual story being told, not in how you decide to structure it.

When you try to get cute with plot structure and other storytelling staples, you’ll risk losing people rather than creating something memorable.

In all of the most popular story-related blog posts I’ve come across, I’ve yet to see a story that defies the classic story structure that focuses on being enticing in the beginning, building up in the middle, and finishing with a satisfying conclusion (and a powerful message).

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

6. Context

While the study referenced the storyteller and the physical environment as important factors in how persuasive the tale was, for online storytelling we have a different set of variables…

For the storyteller, the author of the tale still matters: elements of trust established with the audience and social proof play roles in making a tale believable and easily digested.

As a blogger, you should already know about the powers of social proof, but are you utilizing it in your off-site features? A persuasive story on another site should always include a brief introduction explaining why you’re qualified to tell it, otherwise people will glaze over and block you out.

For surroundings, we now have to turn to a element that strictly applies to the web: design.

According to a fascinating research study entitled, Trust & Mistrust of Online Health Sites, it’s your blog’s design that is most likely to influence first-time visitors about the site’s trustworthiness, not the quality of your content.

A bad design makes people feel like your site isn’t trustworthy, and any storytelling efforts that you attempt will be greatly hindered, so clean up your surroundings!

Your turn

Here’s what to do next…

  1. Let me know in the comments what you thought of this research.
  2. Tell me about one of your favorite stories that you’ve read on the web, and let us know which blogger told it.

Gregory Ciotti is the content strategist for Help Scout, the invisible customer service software for solopreneurs and small-business owners. Get more from Greg on the Help Scout blog.

The Beginner’s Guide to Outsourcing Video Content Production

This guest post is by Leslie Anglesey of EssayTigers.

Does it make sense for blog owners to include video in their posts? It sure does!

Your posts should include all types of interesting content to engage and entertain readers, and this can definitely include videos.

But rather than trying to do all of the work yourself, get smart about your time and consider outsourcing your video content by partnering with a reliable provider.

Research for reliability

How can you find a reliable service? You do your homework.

  • First of all, consider how much content you will need each month, as this will help you determine the costs you can expect to pay for each service.
  • You will also want to ask about content storage volumes and delivery.
  • Support is an important issue. Find out whether you would contact the provider by email or phone, and how long you would have to wait to get a response if you need to rely on email as the preferred contact method.
  • Price is another important consideration for any business owner, and you need to make sure that you are getting good value for the money you’re spending. Consider the following services if you are interested in outsourcing your video content in addition to writing posts.

In finding companies to consider, ask other bloggers for recommendations. Word of mouth can be a great way to find the service that you need.

The companies you are considering should have samples of their work posted online that you can review. When you are checking them out, make a point of looking at the quality of the sound and lighting. These two factors will tell you whether you will be getting a good quality product.

A few options

Here are a few outsourced video services that I’ve come across, and which you might like to consider.

Viddler

The Viddler video platform allows users to upload videos one at a time or in batches. You can record your video from your webcam directly into your Viddler account.

It’s an easy and convenient method for getting your message out to your readers. This company has been in business for six years and has processed over 22 million minutes of video since its inception.

It offers iTunes syndication and RSS feed, as well as embeddable widgets, so you can imbed your videos into your posts.

Pricing starts at $42.00 per month with an annual subscription. You also have the option of paying $50.00 on a month-by-month basis for this service. At this level, you would be provided with email support. Customers who choose a higher level of service would be entitled to email and phone support.

ReelContent

ReelContent is a UK-based company that offers video production services on location or in its studio. The company also offers editing services to its clients.

If are looking for highly polished video content to complement the blog posts you are writing, you may want to consider this type of option. The company has experience shooting content for news items, reviews, interviews, guides, and product demonstrations.

BlissMediaWorks

BlissMediaWorks targets the small and medium-sized business market. The company offers flexible video services that can be adapted to suit your needs.

Services include adding real footage, graphics, and animated text into a video. They can even include music and sound effects if you wish. The company will even post a video direct to YouTube as a special service to drive traffic to your blog.

Audio Concepts

Audio Concepts offers web videos as one of its services. If you are looking for a way to establish yourself as an expert in your niche, adding a series of videos to your blog is an effective way to enhance your online reputation.

Invite visitors to visit your blog to view the next installment to get more information about the topic you are discussing. This is an excellent way to tell a story and really connect with your visitors.

SmartShoot

If you know what you want in a video service, and are prepared to review multiple quotes for your video project, you can post it on SmartShoot.

This online marketplace will connect you with filmmakers and photographers who will put up bids for your job. You then choose who you want to work with.

What are you waiting for?

Adding video to blog posts is an excellent way to give your writing a boost. You can connect with your readers in a new way, and give the search engines something different to index from your blog.

This type of content is, of course, very popular with readers and may result in more shares on social networking sites. If your goal is to have more people liking your posts on Facebook, stumbling them on StumbleUpon, or tweeting them on Twitter, you will want to include video content on your blog more often.

It’s a good idea to get in front of your audience to let them see and hear from you, too. People want to know what you look and sound like so they can get to know you.

If your goal is to be seen as an expert to promote your business and get higher conversion rates for a product or a service, you need to be seen as someone your readers know and trust. The video messages are a good way for you to accomplish this goal.

Finally, remember: your videos don’t need to be lengthy. Anything from 30 seconds to three minutes will give viewers a chance to get to know you. And focus on one main theme per video.

Over time, you will feel more comfortable making videos. Just pretend you are talking to a friend, which is exactly what you are doing. You’re just speaking to your readers instead of writing your message.

Leslie Anglesey is an educational specialist and editor at EssayTigers - service that provides professional paper writing tips for the students.

The Perfect Blogging Output Level

This guest post is by Greg Narayan of DearBlogger.

It’s a sad truth: if you stop blogging, people will eventually forget about you.

Just like the actors in our favorite movies or athletes once they retire, we soon forget the big names and find new ones to idolize.

Even if your blog enjoys the spotlight now with revolutionary posts that go totally Justin -Beiber-viral the moment you hit Publish, it won’t last forever. That’s where your output comes in. Reach an appropriate, consistent level of output and you’ll get returning readers while keeping Google happy too.

But how do we reach a “good” level of output, and what amount is it? How much do you have to write to stay popular? Let’s take a look.

The “one post a day” model

The one post a day model is pretty popular, probably because it’s easy to visualize. You wake up, brew the coffee, and sit down at the computer. As your heads spins with thoughts from the previous night and new ideas on the future, you write them down.

This might work very well if you run a “my thoughts on the world” type of blog, or are into self-improvement, or have a blog documenting your travels.

However, if you plan to blog seriously or blog for a living, I see a few problems with the one post a day model:

  • Short: Writing one blog a day inevitably produces short posts, unless you ramble on and on, which is never good. And after Panda, Google doesn’t exactly love brief posts. Unless you have the pull of Seth Godin, one short post after another might confuse your readers or make them think you’re…
  • Cheap: Anyone can write one post a day. You just jot down some words that look like they make sense and hit publish. But the best posts require revisions, to make the points clear and the copy concise. This level of quality is difficult to achieve every single day on your blog.
  • Too personal: If you are writing in your pajamas before beginning the day I’d bet that writing will get pretty personal. Your beliefs and biases will littler the copy in places they just shouldn’t. So unless you have a really, intensely interesting life like Kim Kardashian (ha!) I’d avoid being too personal in your blog posts. It can scare new readers away.

When I wrote on how I blog for money, one of the main messages was that you earn by giving lots of value to readers. If you find posting every day is the best way to give, that’s fine, but be careful you’re not posting every day just to drive more traffic and attention to your blog. You’ll receive just as much traffic in the long run by posting infrequently at first.

Note: For wholesome traffic-gen strategies, check out Ana Hoffman’s blog.

Now, how about we put a different spin on this model?

One post a day, revamped

The “revamped” model will help you truly give, and also use your full creative potential.

The idea is to add guest posts, newsletters, even a super long Google+ post into the mix, and here’s why it works.

Readers like consistency, we know that, so set one post per week in that regime to be on your own blog. Make it personal, with a story from your own experiences. The tone should be different from posts away from your blog, to give readers a distinct feel to latch on to.

The great thing is that allowing yourself to write on places outside your blog really frees up your imagination. I can’t tell you how many people come to me saying they feel pressured to keep the content churning on their own blog, and it’s hurting their writing. Well, this is a solution.

You should know a couple things though before adapting this model. In order to write great guest posts you’ve gotta be immersed. Not in the TV in front of you on the magazine on the table, though you may find inspiration there. No, be immersed in the tone of the other blog. Read five or ten of their posts, catch their vibe, and see what readers want.

A lot of the time, what readers come back for on another blog is totally different from your own blog. To be a successful guest poster you’ll need to wise up to these little style cues on another blog.

This doesn’t just include guest posts. Every Tuesday morning, for example, I send out a newsletter to subscribers only. I’d be crazy to publish a post the same day because it would overwhelm people. Plus, I usually reference past posts in the newsletter, so the flow of traffic coming to my blog is taken care of. This is a great way of reusing content and getting folks to the blog.

Where do I find the inspiration?

So, you’re going with the one post a day model. Maybe you’ve tailored it a bit so you allow yourself two days off. Nothing wrong with that. Either way, you’ll be writing a serious amount.

Where do the ideas come from? It’s no secret good writing requires inspiration, and some of us just seem to have more of it than others. But where do we get it?

Here are a few places you can find inspiration to meet your desired output levels:

  • Conversations: Yes, they still exist off of Facebook. Go have a rich one.
  • Old-fashioned books: Old classics (Gatsby is my fave) boast inspirational ideas well ahead of their time.
  • Restaurants: Observe the menu. Neat words will pop out. Trust me, they will.
  • Other blogs: Your favorite blog should be full of daily inspiration.
  • Travel: Check out PickTheBrain soon for my post on how travel solves all your problems.

What are my limitations?

The honest truth is there are none. I know successful bloggers who rose to fame averaging only a few posts a month (read: Dererk Halpern).

Then there are those who furiously write, even when they can’t stand to anymore.

Forcing yourself to write can be a tremendous burden in the face of another job and even a family. If it’s not a creative outlet for you, either try to make it one, or just chill out. Put the laptop away for a while.

Often, inspiration creeps in when you’re not looking for it.

So, what is the perfect blogging output level?

There isn’t one (lame punch-line, I know).

It’s all about what works best for you, given your daily restrictions to time, money, location, etc.

Personally, I enjoy posting once a week on my blog because my readers expect it, and it’s just enough of a schedule to keep me sane. I know that when I’m not posting I should subconsciously be looking for new ideas—new weird/crazy topics to interrelate—from my surroundings. Then I sprinkle in guest posts like this one or that one to keep folks on a never-ending hunt to find me when I’m not at the blog.

It’s quite fun, actually.

But, your output schedule could be totally different. The point kind of is, you should choose something. Thinking about your output levels will help you tailor a schedule, which I firmly believe is necessary to make blogging for a living actually work someday. And that’s the goal, right?

What works for you?

I’m quite aware the one post a day model is outdated and not for everyone. Honestly, I’m not even sure if I blog enough! So, what works for you? I really hope someone successful out there can chime in and help us all out.

Let me know in the comments.

The Blogger writes on everything blogging at DearBlogger. Get free updates from his email club for more, or .

Another Way Compassion Can Cure Writer’s Block

When I saw the title of Brandon’s post on compassion and writer’s block earlier today, I instantly had an idea of what the post was about.

But it turns out Brandon had a different take on the topic than I do! So I wanted to add to his ideas in this post, and suggest another way that compassion can cure writer’s block.

What lies at the heart of writer’s block?

I think for each of us, any of a number of issues might cause writer’s block.

There’s exhaustion or burnout, which Brandon dealt with in his post. There’s the sense that you’ve already covered every aspect of your topic. There’s the feeling that there’s nothing new to write. There’s a fear of writing something that others will criticize or disagree with. And then there are distractions—the things we’d rather be doing that sitting inside writing.

I think the variety of “versions” of writer’s block is one of the reasons that we find it so hard to overcome—it seems like there’s no single answer to the problem. I felt this way, too, until I saw Brandon’s post.

How compassion can cure it

As his post suggests, you can cure writer’s block by being kind and compassionate to yourself.

But another approach is to be compassionate to your readers.

Whatever the cause, we tend to feel writer’s block as a pressure to produce—we feel the demands of our blog, or our readers, or the expectations of our peers to create, and do it well, all the time.

But obligation is never a good motivator, and in my experience, while pressure can be a motivator, it tends to burn people out pretty quickly.

Instead of feeling blocked by expectation and demand, why not turn that concept on its head?

As bloggers, our job is to help our audience. So instead of feeling resentment toward the masses waiting on the other side of our blogs to race through our next post, we can approach our writing from a position of compassion:

What can you help your readers achieve today?

How can you show them that you understand their challenges? That you’ve been in their shoes? That you have some advice that could help?

What can you do to make their path easier and clearer? Their lives that little bit simpler or more enjoyable? What’s happened in your life that they might find interesting and relevant?

Turn the block inside out

If you start thinking like this, your reader immediately stops becoming an enemy you need to placate, and can be seen as they truly are: someone who’s looking for understanding and advice.

Instead of focusing on “coming up with answers,” you can focus on the readers themselves, and connect emotionally with them and their individual situations. You know how they feel, because you’ve been there too.

So show them some compassion! Write a post that really hits the nail on the head for them. Record a heartfelt video that explains how you overcame the issue they’re facing. Spend some time doing interpersonal research with actual audience members on social media to get a sense of what’s current for your readers, then sit down to write.

However you play it, a little compassion for your readers can go a long way in inspiring your writing, and helping you to break out of writer’s block not just with publishable content, but content that truly connects through compassion.