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8 Reasons Why Students Should Blog

This is a guest blog post by Michael White of Musings of a PR Student.

Students should be worried about their job prospects. I am. Competition is rife and the top advertised jobs receive hundreds of applications. Our work experiences are not just being challenged by a surge of candidates, but our very degrees are being questioned. Surely only post-graduate degrees now hold credibility?

I began blogging in 2005 (my promoted blog was founded in 2009) and have never looked back. As I reached maturity it became clear that blogging was no longer for the weird recluse yearning for a better life; instead, it’s a practical application for furthering a career.

Yet, despite my personal successes, I am still finding it difficult to convince fellow students to blog.

Here are eight reasons why students should join the blogosphere.

1.Your blog is your portfolio

When I submit my resume to potential employers, I always keep my blog’s address at the top of the first page as a contact detail. It is my online portfolio, which I can give as an example to organizations before I’m even at the interview stages. It is not only a way for me to stand out from the crowd, but it speaks a thousand words more than my two-page resume will allow.

University courses vary but you will certainly find a blogging format to suit you well. A blog can be used to do all of the following:

  • Post images of your latest photography, graphic designs, animations, architecture plans, 3D models, etc.
  • Post videos to present the brilliance of your last feature film project. Friends of mine have posted client work showing advertisements and band music videos.
  • Post written content which delves into industry matters and theoretical musings, or demonstrates practical experiences.

Your blog doesn’t just have to act as a portfolio of content; it can also present links to your social networking profiles. Control your online presence and stand out from the crowd.

2. Blog to control your SEO

What will the first thing your potential employer does when they receive your resume? Either bin it or type your name into Google. When I worked for Microsoft last year as an intern, members of the team took great pleasure in finding information on candidates outside of their resume. Fortunately for you, your blog will be the top result because, through you blog, you can control your SEO.

WordPress is arguably the best blogging software available, especially for those of us who enjoy self-hosting. A variety of plugins are available for WordPress blogs to enhance your SEO:

  • All in One SEO: This plugin is ideal for amateurs and professionals alike. Simply activate it on your WordPress setup to optimize your site for search engines.
  • Google XML Sitemaps: Create an XML-compliant sitemap for your blog to help search engines. I highly recommend that once you have activated this plugin that you post your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.
  • W3 Total Cache: Yes, this is a caching plugin designed to speed up your blog. It is still entirely relevant to SEO, though. Speed matters in terms of page rankings.

The art of improving your SEO is a subject for another blog post. The above plugins will prepare you though. Make sure when your potential employer is searching that they click on the link you want them to see.

3. Network with industry professionals

A couple of months ago I published a review on my blog for a book called Social Media Analytics. Within a few hours of posting it, the author, Marshall Sponder, got in touch thanking me for my kind words. An industry professional made first contact with a student! Yes, I did him a favor, but that was partly in a bid to gain his attention. It worked.

In terms of networking, a blog cannot be used alone. Twitter is still one of the best online networking resources available. Couple your Twitter profile with your blog and you could be playing more seriously. You can gain the attention of industry professionals by:

  • writing reviews of their books
  • writing a reactionary blog post to something they have written
  • offering to guest post for their blog (like I’m doing here!)
  • simply mentioning them in a post with a link.

There are countless methods. Use your own creativity to think of something different.

4. Blogging shows your determination

Make no mistake, blogging is tough. To be successful requires quality content, frequent posts, and networking clout. My blog won a college advisor award in 2010, today I look over the list to find a year later barely half of the blogs are still active. You don’t want your employer to be gazing upon a graveyard of a portfolio.

My current blog has been active for four years now. In that time, I have written 310 posts, which approximately total to 160,000 words. This easily out shadows a measly 10,000 word dissertation. Such a task can only be driven by passion. Only a few blogs reach such a high publicity level that you could consider yourself a minor online celebrity—mine has yet to do so.

In essence blogging is about sitting in your room, with a large mug of tea, which is being drunk by a very determined individual (some say he is mad). Blogging will be worth your time. Plan blog posts ahead. Remember, you are preparing yourself for a marathon and not a sprint.

5. Build a reputation before you hit the workplace

Your professional reputation no longer starts once you have found yourself your first job. It starts based upon the information on the internet people discover. Build your reputation upon the strong foundations of your blog.

My uncle could be regarded as old-school. He has a top job in a worldwide recognized media agency, a result of working his way up the ladder. If you type his name into Google, you will find a dozen news stories written about him by reputable magazines. Never has he needed to build his reputation online first; his reputation leaked online due to his “real world” efforts.

The year 2012 is different. Competition is high among students and so you should be building your reputation at all times, even before you study at University. Here are a number of ways in which a blog can help build your reputation:

  • Focus on your blog’s branding. What do the images and colors say about you?
  • Feature references from industry professionals. Let their endorsements give you credibility.
  • Show off your knowledge of the industry by providing insights and advice.

Reputation is everything.

6. Blogging expands and tests your knowledge

Blogging can be an excellent way to expand your knowledge by testing new ideas out publicaly. On a few occasions visitor’s comments have provided me with fresh angles in order to tackle information. Ultimately the result not only expands your knowledge but allows you to effectively tackle debates and tune your mind to thoughts in your chosen industry.

Don’t forget about comments. Whilst the main content serves as an important resource, comments can provide practical feedback (or nonsensical drivel) to take into consideration.

7. Access traditional media opportunities

In the recent post written by the inspirational Chris Brogan he explains how we should view ourselves as media channels. This is exactly what blogs are; frame them as your media channel. If you do then other, more traditional media channels could become available to you.

Over the last year I was fortunate to become a “rent-a-mouth” for a number of BBC radio stations (including their flagship BBC Radio Five Live). It was an opportunity driven by the content they viewed on my blog. Blogging is by no means a perfect media channel as its audience depends upon your activities. Journalists who work for radio stations and newspapers can give you the credibility of opinion, more exposure, and perhaps even endorsement for work you have produced.

This is a priceless reason to blog. Don’t ignore it. Get noticed.

8. Earn money

How could we not include money on this list as a reason? In my experience it is possible to make money from blogging but don’t think it is easy to earn a living from it.

In the past I have accepted sponsored posts from organizations, but only if they are willing to pay me. Eventually I stopped because posts were lacking detail and shamelessly back-linked to their content. The posts were not useful, informative or entertaining—they were useless. Bloggers need to protect their real estate.

There are number of ways to earn money from blogging. If you chose a path then it may buy a few pints as a student. Don’t expect the income to cover your rent. In my opinion earning money is never a goal, only a side effect from doing something you enjoy.

I hope I have inspired a new generation of students to begin blogging. At the same time I may have just harmed by own job prospects … how selfless of me!

Are you a student who is currently blogging? What have I missed in this post? Add to the debate by leaving your comments below.

Michael White is a British public relations student who studies at the University of Gloucestershire. He was a CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) representative in 2009 and completed an internship with Microsoft last year. He regularly updates his blog Musings of a PR Student.

Un-dull Your Blog Posts: Four Fiction Techniques to Try

This guest post is by Harry Bingham of Writers’ Workshop.

Most blog posts are dull.

They might be well-informed, offer interesting insights, teach useful things—but they can do all those things and still be dull.

Although readers do come to blogs to learn, they are only ever two clicks away from rival offerings, which means you’re under constant pressure to retain those eyeballs.

And eyeball-retention is a learnable, replicable skill. I’m a novelist, after all. People don’t come to my books in order to learn anything: they come for entertainment and will desert me if I don’t satisfy their expectations. So I—and my peers—made darn sure we satisfy them. What’s more, the approaches that work for books are eminently transferable to blogs.

Story

One driver that always works is story. Let’s suppose you’re writing about an SEO technique which yields, on average, a 30% traffic increase over a three month period. Clearly that technique is, in principle, going to be of interest to your readers.

But isn’t that presentation dull? I mean, don’t you feel your heart contract just a little when you hear those stats? You know you need to read the post but, gosh, it doesn’t excite you.

Contrast that with a post that starts with a story. Jed Edwards is a fishmeal seller who’s struggling to make a go of his business in recessionary times. He hits on a new SEO technique that doubles his online traffic in the space of three months. He renegotiates a bank loan on the back of a new business plan and for the first time in years, things start to look up.

Now that snippet still feels a little poor. We want more detail, more personalization, more that is specific to Jed and his business. But enrich that one paragraph to, let’s say, three and you have a human, empathic connection. Your reader is hooked.

Of course at that point, you’ll need to backtrack. You’ll need to say that the Jed’s experience is unusually positive, that 30% increases are the norm, not 100% ones. And you’ll need to get into the nuts and bolts of the technique. But all that doesn’t matter. You’ve got the reader into your article. You’ve won their trust. Your task isn’t finished—but it’s very well started.

The trick to this approach is to start (and ideally finish) with the personal, the specific, the detailed. You can see one example of this approach on our blog here, but you can also view countless examples of it in the newspapers. If a journalist is writing about the Japanese tsunami, for example, they’ll likely start by picking out the experience of one particular family, or one particular village. Start with the particular, move to the general, and move back to the particular with your close.

Controversy

Another good alternative is to go for controversy. You don’t necessarily need to believe 100% in the position you are presenting. Obviously, you need to have some real belief what you’re saying, but it’s okay to allow yourself to express things more strongly than you truly believe. That’s not about lying: it’s about helping to clarify things for readers. By making strong statements, you can let your readers test out what they do and don’t believe on a subject.

In the end, a controversial stance is simply a way to keep the reader interested in what follows. A recent guest-blogger on our own writing-related website made a big splash with an argument that alcohol could be used to promote creativity. It’s a controversial position—but that post scored almost three times as many hits as one of our regular posts. (His post can be found here.)

Facts

You wouldn’t think that novelists spend much time wrestling with facts, but we do! Historical fiction, for example, nearly always relies on a novelist finding some extraordinary aspect of the past and bringing it to life via story. But if the background material weren’t compelling, the book wouldn’t be either. Philippa Gregory’s international hit book (and movie) The Other Boleyn Girl worked primarily by bringing an extraordinary aspect of King Henry VIII’s colorful life to public view.

You can do the same. Most pro bloggers recycle the same old facts. You need to avoid that. You need to locate the specific, unknown fact that throws a new light on the issue you are commenting on. You don’t need to embellish that fact or wrap it in fancy packaging. If your fact is strong enough, you can hook a post to it without any of that.

Take, for example, Amazon’s launch of the Kindle Fire. Countless commentators regurgitated Amazon’s sales statistics—to such an extent that no blog advertising this fact could be of real interest. So Clint Boulton did some original research (which he discusses here) and transformed a dull post into a value-added one.

Style and humor

A fourth—difficult—approach relies on writing style and humor. It’s hard, because you need real writerly skills. You can’t just bolt them on, the way you can with the first couple of approaches. And humor that falls flat is much worse than no humor at all.

On the other hand, there are replicable skills here too. Economy, for starters. Are you saying something in 12 words that could be said in eight? If so, your blog post risks being 50% longer than it ought to be. Pedantic micro-corrections to your text can build into a large macro difference in interest.

Cliché is another grievous sin against good writing. Every cliché kills—just a little—the reader’s interest in your text. If you spot examples of cliché in your text (and that means remembering to look for them!), you can correct the problem in one of two ways. Either come up with your own original striking phrase or choose a simple but accurate replacement. So you could change “She was grasping at straws” into either of these alternatives:

She grew desperate, a drowning woman in search of a lifebelt.
Tiny facts now filled her with unreasonable hope.

Both of those options are a big improvement on the cliché.

Examples

Finally, humans aren’t particularly rational creatures. Logically, it makes good sense to state general principles and let readers figure it out from there. But readers want examples. They make those general principles leap to life.

The joy of hyperlinks means that you don’t even have to slow your prose down with reporting those examples: you can just point to them and move on. The better written and more joyous the posts you point to, the more joy you bring into your own post too. It’s like love: you create more by sharing.

Have you used any of these techniques to un-dull your writing? Share your tips with us in the comments.

Harry Bingham is a novelist. He also runs the Writers’ Workshop which offers help with all aspects of writing a book.

3 Lessons On Blogging from My Son… the Artist

Our kitchen table is in a perpetual state of creativity.  L1001438.jpg

Marker pens, sketch books, glue sticks, and paint sets are make their permanent home there because my five-year-old son (X) is a self-declared Artist.

While there are some challenges with living with an Artist… (last night I almost broke my ankle tripping on a glue stick) there are a lot of good things about it too. Not only is there a constant stream of art work to hang on the fridge, I’ve also seen a lot of parallels between the ways he’s developing artistically and how I think bloggers could develop their own craft.

The more you do it, the better you get

Young X is prolific. There’s no other word to describe him.

When I get up at 7am he’s usually hard at work on a project he’s been dreaming up in bed the night before (he literally gets up and draws his dreams).

When I go down to the kitchen for a cup of tea mid morning, he’ll be there drawing or crafting up some new “sculpture” (out of an egg carton, some blue tack, a chocolate box, and his Mum’s earrings).

When I collect him from kindergarten in the afternoon, he’ll leave the room with any number of paintings, pastings, and works of art, while other kids walk out with one at most.

The fruit of his constant practice of his artistry is a remarkable improvement in what he’s producing. While it’s all still very childlike (he is five) we genuinely marvel at his creations—they’re really great! Last week I even found him sitting down with a book about Picasso and trying to emulate one of his famous paintings.

The same is true for blogging (or any form of writing)—the more you practice, the better your writing gets. In fact it’s pretty much the only way to learn. You can study writing techniques all you want, but unless you actually experiment with putting them into practice and work on developing your own style, you’ll never really improve.

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Experiment with new media

X is constantly trying new ways of constructing, drawing, painting, and creating. While drawing with pencils used to be his thing, he’s moved through a variety of “phases” in his artistic development as he’s explored different media.

I still remember the time earlier this year that I suggested he use his pencils only to be told that “I used pencils when I was 4 but I have been maturing. I prefer paint!”

He’s also gone through different phases when it comes to subject matter. Faces were and early phase. Then houses. Then robots. Then Toy Story characters. Then fire. Then rainbows….

Interestingly, his latest phase is something of a fusion (or mashup) of different media and subjects. It’s almost as if he’s tested and tried a variety of techniques and has now got his own little style, taking things he’s learned along the way and putting them together into his own little way.

The same is true for bloggers. I strongly advise bloggers to experiment:

  • Experiment with writing in different styles and voices.
  • Experiment with writing posts of different lengths.
  • Experiment with writing informal and formal posts.
  • Experiment with writing in a more personal and engaging tone, and writing a more academic-style essay post.
  • Experiment with different media—video, audio, written.
  • Experiment with different formats—list posts, interviews, how-to posts, stories.
  • Experiment with different topics.

The list could go on. As you experiment, you’ll find yourself drawn to repeat some and leave others. You’ll also find your readers resonating with some experiments and ignoring (or even reacting against) others. In time, your voice develops.

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Train your mind to think like a blogger

When X is not making art, he’s thinking about his next creation. Quite often we’ll be driving in the car or out for a walk and he’ll have a contemplative look on his face, or he’ll be examining something with real intent. I’ll ask him what he’s thinking about. More often than not, he’ll say something like:

  • “I’m thinking about how to draw that traffic light.”
  • “I’m imagining what that man riding the bike will look like being attacked by a dinosaur so I can paint it.”
  • “I’m working out what color to draw our house in when I get home.”

X is always on the lookout for inspiration for his art work. He’s painting his next painting before he’s even sitting down to do it. He’s looking at life though the eyes of a five-year-old artist—working out how to translate what he sees and experiences into his creations.

Again, there is a lesson to be learned here for bloggers. While I don’t advise letting your whole life be taken over by thinking about blogging, over time you begin to see life through blog-colored glasses. As you experience life, there will be some things that jump out at you that could impact your blogging (or even be written about).

This post is an example of that. As I watched X draw today and began to ponder how he was developing, I began to see the parallels and analogies emerge—but they only came because I guess I’ve got into the habit of looking at life this way.

Confessions of a Narcissistic Blogger

This guest post was written by Joe Bunting of The Write Practice.

I came across this interesting quote from psychologist Alexander Lowen:

“To experience joy, one must be free of anxieties about letting go and expressing feeling. Or to put it differently, one has to be carefree and innocent as a child.”—Alexander Lowen

Masks

Image copyright stock.xchng user bluegum

I would like to experience more joy. Wouldn’t you? Isn’t joy what life is really about?

I first got into writing because I felt this explosion of feeling, like I could release everything I was on the page and fill it with beautiful and terrible truths. Sometimes I get so excited about writing, my eyes fill with tears. It’s a great experience.

This is life experienced to its fullest. But then I look at my pageviews and my game face goes on. All I care about is the numbers. Immediately, my joy fizzles out like soda gone flat.

Lowen continues, “Narcissists are neither carefree nor innocent.” Have I become a narcissist? Here are four narcissistic blogger tendencies:

1. You worry about your image

Is my design interesting enough? Will viewers bounce immediately after seeing it? Are my tweets funny enough? Do I post/tweet too much? Do I post/tweet too little?

2. You attempt to get people to respond to you the way you want them to

Why aren’t people commenting? How do I get them to comment more? I need more comments!

3. If you’re not in control, you become panicky

My views were supposed to go up this week! Why are they going down? Why aren’t people sharing my Tweet? It was really funny! Why the heck aren’t people commenting?

4. You look for ways to make people do what you want them to do

Read my blog. Comment on my blog. Share my blog. Like my blog. Tweet my blog. Please retweet. If my views don’t go up, I’ll be an insecure wreck.

Do you have any of these tendencies? I know I do.

True confession: One time I went to a party with some friends just after publishing a really great blog post. When I got there, I didn’t have a deep connection with the divine. Instead, I felt, These people are lucky to have me. I’m a really good writer. What a great resource I am for them.

I cared more about my image than spending quality time with the people I loved.

Not quite five tips to become less narcissistic and experience more joy

The truth is that I’d like to give you five tips on how to be less narcissistic. I’d like to give you seven bullet points on how to be a more loving, less self-conscious, more joyful person.

But I’m not sure it would help.

My all-time favorite TEDtalk is from researcher Brene Brown. She said, “We don’t need more tips. We pretty much know the right way to live. ‘How to’ isn’t working.”

Instead, I’m going to give you just one.

Be real.

We don’t need more tips on how to live more joyful, less narcissistic life. Instead, we need openness, honesty, and vulnerability. The secret to fighting shame and narcissism is to feel your feelings, to share them without concern of getting hurt (you might get hurt, by the way).

There is no secret. There is no key to effective non-narcissism. There is no tip to experience joy.

There is only yourself. You as you really are. Unhidden and unashamed.

Do you struggle with blogging narcissism? Do you want to be sophisticated? Share your own true confession here. Feel free to comment anonymously if it’s too personal.

Joe Bunting is a professional writer, fiction editor, and platform consultant. You can follow Joe on Twitter and download a copy of his eBook, 14 Prompts, for free.

31 Unexpected Perks of Blogging You’ll Never Want to Give Up

This guest post is by Uttoran Sen of traveltamed.com.

You’ve got it! You’re officially a Have in a world of Have-nots!

What do you have? It’s probably not money, fame, or tax-write-offs disguised as corporate jets. It’s something more powerful.

You have a blog. And a darn fine one at that.

If you’ve said before that you’ll never give up blogging—surprise! You’re probably right!

Giving up a good thing is next-to-impossible. So it’s not a surprise to discover that blogging isn’t the sort of thing you just stop doing. In fact, anyone would be hard-pressed to give up blogging once they’ve discovered just how rewarding it can be.

1. You have freedom of expression. We all claim to want to be able to say our piece, but most of the time we’re just lamenting to our journals or blabbering on to a significant other who probably agrees with everything we’re saying. But with blogging, you can say what you want to say as often as you like without censure. You’ll reach an audience, too.

2. People listen to you. Good or bad, once you start blogging, people start tuning in. It’s amazing to feel like people are paying attention to you and that they consider what you have to say valid.

3. Your thoughts are more developed. People who think their thoughts have fuzzy ideas of what they believe in and why. But bloggers have to fully develop a thought and include support if you’re going to put it on a blog. This helps you formulate concrete ideas and opinions. Skip the fuzzy thoughts forever.

4. Your education continues indefinitely. In your cube-based job, you learn how to do your job and you might catch some gossip on the front page of the paper. Bloggers, on the other hand, are surrounded by news and ideas all of the time. They are constantly growing and learning—if not to keep up with the niche they enjoy, then to ensure that their blog continues to grow.

5. You learn to type more quickly. It’s a small thing, really, but the moment you realize that you type faster than all of your friends, you’ll feel that sort of pride that threatens to overwhelm you with a sheer manic force as you yell, “Ha! I am so much better at this than you!”

6. Your ego can take a beating, and keep on ticking. Putting your thoughts and ideas out there for strangers can be daunting. But as others tear your ideas apart, you get to argue back and strengthen your own viewpoint—or you can change your mind as your knowledge grows. Either way, having someone knock your ideas makes you a better, stronger person.

7. You take risks and see rewards. Being online is risky on a good day. Being a blogger and courting public exposure makes you practically a rebel when it comes to risk-taking. You’re not hiding behind an email address and fuzzy cube walls. You’re out there sharing and growing—building a community. Your risks online pay off, and that’s heady business.

8. You meet new (real) people. We’re in a global community here, but how many of our neighbors still just exist in the block where they live and work? Bloggers are out there in the global environment interacting with other real people who enjoy the same thing we do. No fake profiles and pictures—this isn’t a dating website, after all. We’re the ones who are really doing the work of globalization.

9. Creativity regenerates. It’s sad, but true—creativity is beaten out of us as children. As we grow, we lose almost all of our creativity through standardized tests, college courses and work programs. Blogging is an excellent opportunity to take back your creativity once and for all—to get serious about being original. Of course, you probably are already.

10. You think more clearly. Not only do your thoughts become stronger, the more you blog, the more clearly you begin to think the thoughts that appear in your head every day. It’s as if you mind converts itself to WordPress and you’re able to compact thoughts, provide some bullet points and provide a catchy headline for every mundane thought that passes through your head.

11. You can amuse yourself. There’s nothing more powerful than humor, and bloggers are some of the funniest people around. Perhaps it’s the global exposure or maybe it’s just the type of people who enjoy blogging, but you’ll become so good at finding humor in the world around you for others on the blog that you’ll soon realize just how much there is outside of your homepage as well.

12. Your vocabulary will improve. While blogging is really just a form of internet journaling, the amount of reading you do in your favorite areas will provide you with the newest lingo and as you start to revise your blogs, you’ll catch areas where you can improve your word choice. Often, this is just the opportunity your brain is looking for to start sucking in some new words and phrases.

13. Internet shortcuts become your highways. How long does it take you to update your blog? If you were to line up three of your closest friends and all try to find a picture to go along with an article, who would win? You would, of course! You know all the good photo spots, the best places for graphics, for themes and for videos. You’ve got the inside track.

14. You grow cocky. Being online, being read by others, and knowing that we do a good job with words and phrases turns us into the worst kind of internet animal—we’re cocky. We know what we’re doing and we’re not afraid to let others know it. And, quite honestly, this level of confidence and coolness isn’t something you’ll enjoy losing.

15. You learn how to make money. Growing up, you probably learned the same things we all did. To make money you 1) finish school. 2) Get a good job. 3) Work there as long as possible. And perhaps 4) Change jobs a few times and play some politics to earn a good raise or two along the way. If you were lucky you might get a bonus every so often. Those of us with blogs, however, have learned the ultimate truth—you can make money any time and any way you want. Just write something and throw up some ads.

16. You are your own boss. This is a biggie—it’s hard to become a humble servant to another boss when you know that at home your blog is generating some nice revenue and gathering up a few good visitors. Being your own boss, even if it’s just in the evenings, is confidence boosting and might be just the outlet you need to go back and live in your window-less office again in the morning.

17. You can monetize anything. If you can make decent money with a blog, you can make money with anything. Once you figure out the perfect combination of traffic, visitors, ads, and upsells to turn a profit on your blog, you’re on your way up.

18. The cutting edge comes to you. It only takes a few weeks of blogging to realize that being online in a meaningful way—not watching videos or just tweeting with your best college buddies—makes you a leader in the ways of trends. You know the trends before they ever arrive. You see the blog posts and the conversations between those in the know, and it amuses you when suddenly the public is wild for Snuggies, ShamWow, Pillow Pets, and Acai berries a few months later.

19. You’re brandable. Blogs are definitive and you develop a certain style over the months and years through which you add material. As your blog grows and becomes more branded by you, you become more branded yourself. It’s nice to be able to explain yourself in what amounts to a slogan (perhaps even the same slogan you have on the site right now).

20. Change is constant. Every so often you just know it’s time for your theme to change. And with that constant change and improvement online, you’re more comfortable making changes to your personal life as well. Blogs are never stagnant and neither are bloggers. Ask someone who’s retiring after 35 years in the same job if he can say the same.

21. You get freebies. It may be beta invitations or perhaps some new products to try for a review. Whatever it is, blog long enough and the freebies start coming your way. And who doesn’t love free stuff?

22. You feel productive. We know productivity is a good thing, but most of us turn off the productivity engine as we step away from our desk at five or six in the evening. Not so with dedicated bloggers. We’re productive almost every waking hour—adding to the blog, finding new features for the blog, or just reading up on other blogs to stay current.

23. The blogging network is deep. There may be millions of blogs out there, but there are only a handful of dedicated bloggers in a particular niche or area. Once you’ve been around for a while, you’ll be impressed with how knowledgeable and approachable these bloggers are. Your network is not only wide, but deep as well.

24. You can justify cool stuff. When you blog online, you need to be connected. Being connected means you need important things like new computers, tablets, iPads, and plenty of accessories for all of the goodies. Even if you don’t actually need every single gadget and gizmo you bought last year, you can put them all to use and even write the cost off if your blogging is part of a business or even remotely profitable.

25. You’re never lonely. Bloggers have friends in every time zone, and when you feel like reaching out to someone, you can—no matter where you’re located.

26. Your passion is worthy of notice. We all have passions and things we enjoy, but many people don’t have the opportunity to really dig into an area of interest and allow it to enrich life in a meaningful way. Bloggers are able to indulge in passions every day—even if just by reading and reporting on new areas of development.

27. You’re motivated. How often do you drag your feet going to your office or trying to figure out how you’re going to make it through another Monday? Start your day with a quick blog post and you’ll be off and running in no time.

28. You can build up from a blog. A blog is an easy way to get started with a new idea. Then, if you like your new idea, you can build out from your blog to develop a more comprehensive business or just continue to use the blog as a marketing home base.

29. You can flesh out a real resume. Jobs can be tricky right now, and if you happen to be an expert in a particular field, you stand a far better chance of finding a job that is well suited to you. Additionally, having a long-running blog is a sign that you’re all the things employers look for—dedicated, knowledgeable, hard-working, and passionate.

30. You have a useful following. Those who have subscribed to your blog or who are faithful readers often can be counted on for many other things. They can help you win contests. They can help you find new jobs or interview subjects. They suggest topics. Those same followers can often be convinced to try new things—especially if it’s something you’ve made and are considering selling.

31. You can scratch what itches. Everyone needs to vent from time to time, and having a blog and a bunch of willing readers is a great place to do it. What’s the fun of complaining about terrible service at your favorite store if nobody cares? Your dedicated readers will care and they might even take action on your behalf. On the other hand, if you’re just dying to get feedback for your stab at song lyrics, scratch the itch and let others check them out amongst your other posts.

Blogs and bloggers are understandably varied—some are in it for the money, some for the entertainment and others just because it feels good. But whatever the reason you’re blogging, if you’ve been doing it long enough, you’re probably in it for good. It’s just too hard to walk away from something this rewarding.

Uttoran Sen is a travel blogger who likes to travel places from around the world, and write about his journeys on his travel blog. Follow him on Twitter or join his Facebook page and stay connected.

Why You Should Create Your Own Graphics for Your Blog

This guest post is by Naveen Jayawardena of sleepWRITER.

When I decided to start a blog on sleep habits, I wanted to try something different. As any aspiring blogger, I was trying to stand out from the crowd. And I did it by creating my own graphics.

Now I run my blog exclusively with “home-made” graphics. My readers love it and I enjoy making graphics as much as writing posts.

The alam bully, who features on Naveen's SleepWriter.com website

I am not a professional graphic designer. So I can assure you that most people can learn how to make graphics with a little practise.

I am a self-taught amateur graphic artist. And I started out from scratch. And I will tell you how to do it yourself.

I use “home-made” graphics for each and every one of my blog posts. If you are wondering whether this is worth all the trouble, then consider these benefits you can get from using graphics:

  1. Graphics blend in with the blog design more easily than photos. I have limited my blog design to few colors and could not have achieved this without the use of graphics.
  2. It’s much cheaper than buying photos or graphics.
  3. It introduces your own, unique voice to the your posts via graphics.
  4. You can come up with the right picture for the posts every time.
  5. You can explain difficult concepts with infographics.
  6. Making graphics is fun. Drawing a few sketches after writing a post can help you relax and think creatively.

How do you start?

If you’re an absolute beginner, I suggest you start simply. Don’t worry about your graphics not being lifelike. The idea is to create your own style, with which others can identify your graphics.

You can draw something on paper and scan it, or take a picture of it from a digital camera. This is a very basic method of using graphics. You can draw cartoons and add lists in your own handwriting.

At some point you need to learn to use graphics software. I use Adobe Illustrator, but there are plenty of other software packages that can do a good job. I suggest you stick to one and learn it well.

You can learn from books, web tutorials, video tutorials and by attending classes. There is a range of brands under each category, and most of them cover the basics. I used video tutorials but I feel that having someone to show you the ropes can help you learn faster. Take time to learn the basic functions, and remember that learning keyboard short-cuts can save you a lot of time in future.

Once you have the basic skills in place, you can explore on your own. But if you are serious about graphics, then there are plenty of online tutorials that teach you, step-by-step, how to create advanced graphics. I use online tutorials to sharpen my skills and also to learn new “tricks.”

To create good graphics, you need to be a good observer. Look at the graphics on stock graphic collections and libraries. What techniques are they using? Can you replicate them? Look at the graphics and cartoons that appear on newspapers and websites and learn.

Once you are confident in making graphics, then you can adopt your own style and technique. When I write a post, I also think of the graphics which can go with it. If I don’t get a good idea for a graphic, I finish my writing and visit again with a fresh perspective for a graphic idea.

What are the drawbacks?

It would be unfair if I told you only the good side of creating your own graphics. I have encountered few disadvantages of using graphics for my blog:

  1. Detailed graphics take time. This can affect your posting routine. But with practice, you can create them faster. You can recycle old graphics to save time.
  2. It takes time to learn to make graphics. It took me few years to master the art of graphics and I still learn. It is not a quick fix.
  3. It may not suit all types of blogs. But it is worth a try.

Graphics can be a nice addition to your blog. I hope I inspired at least a few of you to bring your inner artist to your blogs! Please do share your own experiences using graphics on your blogs.

Naveen Jayawardena is a doctor by profession and blogs during his free time. You can find plenty of graphics and sleep tips at sleepWRITER.

Forget Blogging as Usual: 5 Outrageous Tips for Super-sized Attention

This guest post is by Neil Patel of KISSmetrics.

It happens every minute. About six thousand new blog posts are published. That’s a lot.

Blogs have given enormous power to people. It’s given them a chance to have a voice in a world that used to be controlled by gatekeepers like traditional media. While I’m happy about this, this makes it very hard to get attention in the online world.

Do you want attention for your blog? What about super-sized attention—the kind you get when someone likes Drudge or Time magazine links to your blog because of your work? Well, here are some tips on how to do that.

Super-cool user-generated sites

One of the most popular sites on the web is a user-generated site: I can has cheez burger. Sure, it’s silly, but it’s a valuable lesson: people want to laugh and share stuff for an audience, no matter what it is.

Another site that does this really well is Dear Blank Please Blank. This user generated site is simple. All you do is fill out a short form, click if you want to be notified when it’s published and then submit. That’s it.

While I think this site is genius for the simplicity of the idea and ease of execution, I think it’s simply beyond genius when it comes to the way readers can interact. For instance, after reading the entry, you can choose five options that describe what you feel about it. “How Dare They,” “You’re a Douche,” “Hilarious,” “Like This,” and “Umm, WTF?!”

Of course, you can also comment. The point for you is to think of outrageously different and unique ways of generating user content, because sites like Dear Blank Please Blank show that people want to contribute a lot.

Super-sized photos

According to the 2011 Technorati State of the Blog report, 90 percent of bloggers use some kind of multimedia on their site. This shouldn’t surprise you, but the most popular form is photos:

With this in mind, just putting photos on your blog or website postings isn’t going to get you a lot of attention. The Boston Globe’s Photoblog is one of the most unique blogs in 2011 because of its use of photos. At over 990 pixels wide, these photos are big and bold and are hard to ignore. They look good when they show up in my RSS reader.

A lesser known but equally powerful blog, Fiked, peppers each post with dozens of powerful photos. The copy is lean, so you move very quickly through each post, but the posts are also very long. Think of it as a list post on steroids.

Another fantastic site is Cabin Porn. They take it even further than The Boston Globe and each photograph fills just about the entire screen.

Super-sized posts

One of the things I try to do over at Quick Sprout is give readers a very technical and detailed understanding of my topic. This is the best way to go about it, especially since the Panda and Farmer updates, which essentially targeted sites and blogs with lots of low-quality content.

Besides, because of the glut of blogs and post, people are not going to pay attention to half-page, half-baked posts. They are not going to bookmark or share them either.

You need to create high-quality, interesting content if you want people to read, comment and bookmark. Here’s a short list of questions you can ask yourself that will help you create technical and detailed blog posts:

  • Is what you wrote original?
  • Can you provide practical advice or relevant research?
  • Did you correct any spelling, grammar or factual errors?
  • Is the topic of interest to a reader or a machine?
  • Is the article well edited?
  • Does your site have authority?
  • Are you providing insightful or interesting information beyond the obvious?
  • Would you bookmark your article?
  • Is your article cluttered with call-to-actions, ads or promotions?
  • Would a magazine or journal print your article?
  • Is your article short, weak and useless?
  • How much time and attention did you give to detail?
  • Would someone complain if they saw this article?

Writing high-quality content takes time. But if you ask yourself those 13 questions each time before you write your chances of creating great content will improve.

Cut back your blogging frequency

It used to be that everyone would tell you to blog every day to get the attention you need. Believe me, it’s not easy to keep up that kind of production. Eventually you’ll wear out of ideas and produce crap.

But it also has an effect on your readers. One of the things I learned over the years is that the frequency of blog posts affects interaction. In some of the tests I’ve done, when you deliver long posts that are detailed on a less than frequent basis, like once a week, my readership and number of comments rise. I think it’s because you give space for readers to read, comment and absorb what you wrote.
You do have to keep in mind that this flies in the face of research by Hubspot in their 2011 State of Inbound Marketing. According to their report, bloggers who blog daily will get five times as much traffic than those who blog once a week or less.

Personally, this hasn’t been my experience, so I recommend you test what frequency works best for you.

Wage war against an enemy

Whatever you’re feelings for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, you have to admit that he was a genius when it came to drawing battle lines.

There were enough people in the world who felt like their government was keeping secrets from them, especially in the U.S, and Assange used that anxiety to create an information empire and become an international celebrity.

That tactic is also a common theme when it comes to copywriting. In his “Influential Writing” course, copywriting legend Dan Kennedy used to talk about the “rally against a common enemy” strategy. If you can identify a person, industry, organization or thing (like a disease, for instance) that enough people feel threatened by, you can create a following by waging war against that person or thing.

Think of the story of David and Goliath. We root for the small guy. A consumer advocate blog like The Consumerist is a good example of going after a common enemy. You can even think of Drudge as being an advocate against a common enemy, namely traditional media.

Conclusion

If you want to get a lot of attention for your blog, then you need to start ignoring the traditional ways of blogging and embrace some more outrageous, out-of-the-box ideas. Hopefully the above examples and tips will help you do that.

What other outrageous ideas can you share about getting massive attention for your blog?

Neil Patel is the co-founder of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

20 Bloggers to Watch in 2012

This year, I tried to go outside of the social media echo-chamber and focus on people who are expanding beyond their blogs. As Michael Stelzner said at Blogworld, “You’re not a blogger, you’re a publisher!”

These are 20 people who stood out to me this year. There is no ranking, nor is there a competition. If you are after more variety, I’ve included links to other round-ups at the end of this post.

Do you know of someone that has really stood out in 2011? Let us know in the comments, or create and link to your own list post. Enjoy!

Maria Popova

Maria Popova describes herself as “interestingness curator and semi-secret geek obsessed with design, science, storytelling and combinatorial creativity”. She is the editor of the much-loved Brain Pickings, which she described as a “a destination for indiscriminate curiosity.”

I love Maria’s work because talented curators are needed in this cluttered blogosphere. Maria goes beyond the collection of links and ideas, and provides a narrative that just enchants you. In the aforementioned interview, Maria said that “curation is all about pattern-recognition, seeing how various and diverse pieces of content fit together under the same taste umbrella or along the same narrative path, so the guiding principle has to be the sole storyteller with a strong point of view.”

I think Maria will be an influence on curators for years to come.

Kristi Hines

Kristi Hines is a freelance writer, online marketing consultant, and social media enthusiast that blogs at Kikolani. She has  become famous for her weekly resource posts, Fetching Friday, and is a prolific guest poster on many high-profile sites. Her work is highly regarded in the social media community and she was recommended multiple times in the comments section on last year’s list.

Her book, Blog Post Promotion, is extraordinarily in-depth for a book at its price point, and is something I’d strongly recommend to those who need help getting more attention for their posts. You guys may also enjoy her post about making money online through blogging and writing.

Corbett Barr

Corbett Barr is someone I’ve been watching for a few years. He had a popular blog, Free Pursuits, but focused on creating a legacy rather then just being a blogger. He started Think Traffic in 2010, and quickly built a solid reputation for building quality content. In 2011 he created the Million Dollar Blog Project and launched his case study blog, Expert Enough.

I like Corbett because he’s one of the people who evolved with the challenges that blogging presented, rather than giving up. Some of the best discussions of 2010 came from his blog and I believe that the Million Dollar Blog Project will result in a few more bloggers to watch.

Marcus Sheridan

Marcus started a swimming pool company in 2001. Thanks to his blog, and inbound marketing, it grew to be one of the biggest companies of its kind in the world. Marcus had amassed a large amount of knowledge about content marketing and created The Sales Lion to teach others about the power of community.

I love his blog. He isn’t a pseudo-guru testing his theories—he only teaches about stuff he’s personally experienced. He also has a talent for community engagement. Many of his posts contribute to the conversation surrounding many facets of our industry, which encourages related companies to adjust their model to serve bloggers better.

Hands down, Marcus is one of the coolest guys online. He helps so many of us when he already has a successful business and doesn’t need the social validation. I hope we’ll see a lot more of him in the coming year.

Alexis Grant

Alexis Grant is a publishing powerhouse. She describes herself as a “journalist, blog & social media strategist and a budding entrepreneur.” She has been experimenting with digital products and micropublishing, such as her popular eguide on building a Part-Time Social Media Business. She’s also the managing editor of the Brazen Careerist blog.

I’ve had the pleasure of being friends with her for past few months, and it’s been fascinating watching her grow. She has a unique work history, starting out in traditional journalism and evolving until she landed a job editing a popular blog. I think we will learn a lot from her experiments in digital publishing, especially during the latter part of 2012.

Colin Wright

Colin Wright intrigues me. He runs a popular blog, but I wouldn’t called him a blogger. I don’t think anyone really knows what to call him. Every four months, his readers vote on the next country he’ll move to. He has an everlasting ebook called Exiles, runs a T-shirt shop called I Have No Shirt, and has published six ebooks.

I like Colin because of his constant experimentation with micropublishing and entrepreneurship. He closed eBookling because he’d achieved what he had set out to do, despite having a profitable model. He was one of the first in my community to experiment with Kindle publishing. He’s a genuinely cool guy with a thirst for knowledge, and a desire to improve on existing creations. I think that’s an attitude we all can benefit from.

Torre De Roche

 

Torre De Roche is the Fearful Adventurer. While overseas, she “fell for a 31-year old Argentinean man who had a humble sailboat and a dream to set off exploring the world.” She accompanied him on his trip across the South Pacific which led to her blog and later, a book about her journey. Within two months of self-publishing her book, she landed a big publishing deal. Her book, Swept, will be out in 2013.

I think that Torre will be one of the writers that will really stand out over the coming years. She has such a natural talent, yet is still a bit of an unknown in the blogosphere. I’m confident that will change over the next year and I think that we are in a fortunate position to watch her evolve.

Deb Ng

Deb is an accomplished blogger. Previously she was the founder and owner of the Freelance Writing Jobs network of blogs, as well as the community manager for Blog Talk Radio. Now, she is employed as the conference director of Blog World Expo and has released her first book, Online Community Management for Dummies.

In 2012, she’ll be just as busy. She’s authoring her second book for the Dummies brand and planning is already well underway for Blogworld in New York.

I love her work, and her contribution to the industry. I especially enjoy her blog, Kommein,  where readers are fortunate enough to get an insight into the work of someone whose career spans multiple areas of the blog industry.

Jen Bishop

Jen is mostly known as the publisher and editor of Dynamic Business magazine in Australia. Part of what makes the magazine so successful is its prominent web presence, which feature a wide range of bloggers. But I’m not including her because of that.  I’m watching her based on her work at her new blog, Interiors Addict.

Interiors Addict is a blog that curates a lot of the best information her passion, interior design. She’s leveraged her skills as a journalist to get access to industry news and interviews, and has turned her hobby blog into a very prominent force.

One of my favorite trends this year is how journalists are dabbling in creating their own digital presences. I believe they enjoy a lot more success, and learn more, when their blog is based on an obsession rather then just their personal brand. I’m also enjoying how Tumblr is aiding bloggers that focus heavily on curation.

Derek Halpern

Derek runs Social Triggers, a site that “breaks down psychological research and business case studies into simple, actionable steps that can help you improve your online business.” His content isn’t the reason I’m watching him, although it is high-calibre and he only publishes his best work. No, the reason he’s gotten my attention is because of how he got noticed.

Early in 2011, he did blog reviews of popular sites such as Chris BroganThink TrafficSmart Passive Income, and David Risley. He showed both the blogger and those who watched the videos how they could increase conversions, which resulted in massive word of mouth from both the readers and his peers.

2011 was the year he spent working hard, and getting attention. I’m curious to see how he leverages his brand in 2012.

Jenny Blake

Jenny Blake is an authorblogger, life coach, and sought-after speaker who helps others “Wake up, live big! and love the journey.”  Jenny recently took her own great leap by leaving Google after five and a half years to pursue her passions full-time.

I’ve enjoyed watching Jenny evolve as she released her first book, Life After College, and expanded her digital offerings. She is fast approaching the end of her first year of self employment, and I think she’ll really start to shine during the latter half of 2012.

Yasmine Surovec

Yasmine is the creator of the popular web comic Cat Versus Human. She documents the everyday realities of living in a multi-cat household via a series of hilarious drawings. In late 2011, she released her first book, Cat vs. Human.

I read a lot of web comics, and I enjoy the fact that they don’t do many of the things that bloggers typically recommend. She has a cat’s bottom in her sidebar, a self-deprecating about page and a contact page that had me hunting for tin-foil. I think that we can all learn from her example and poke more fun at our work, while maintaining a growing brand.

Molly Mahar

Molly Mahar is the founder of Stratejoy, a positive corner of the Internet that provides thousands of women the tools, strategies, and camaraderie to lead authentically joyful lives. There are many career blogs targeted at people in their twenties, but hers is focused on helping people through their “quarter-life crisis.”

I think her blog is fantastic. She invites a number of people to blog for her for a “season,” so that readers can follow their journeys over a five-month period. It’s a great way to build community, encourage new voices and make sure her content is always interesting to that demographic. I’ve heard so many good things about her blog, and how it’s helped people.

Kristin Glenn and Shannon Whitehead

Kristin and Shannon started {r}evolution apparel, a sustainable fashion company based in America. They came up with the idea for their fashion line but knew they had a lot of work before it could reach the market, so they decided to blog about their journey. Thanks to their blogging and networking efforts, they’ve had massive success with their fundraising to launch their first product. At the time of writing, they have reached double their target for their kickstarter campaign and still have a week to go.

They focused on building their community while building their business. As a result, they had a lot of people willing to help them when they asked for support. Their story shows that you don’t need to wait until your product is ready to get your message out there.

Young House Love

Young House Love chronicles the story of two DIY dorks who are turning their house into a home, and sharing every detail as they learn. The content is great, but what I really loved was how they delved into their personal lives and shared the personality behind the bloggers. Their stories are compelling and somewhat harrowing, such as the details of their daughter’s traumatic birth.

I love how they’ve transformed a personal blog into an amazing resource. Look at how they changed the sidebars for the mood board section. They are incredibly savvy. Their work highlights the potential to build your brand beyond a blog, and shows how you can leverage your archives.

I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to discover Young House Love. I plan to spend many hours delving into the archives after finishing this post.

Lingerie Addict

Treacle is the founder of The Lingerie Addict. She started her site in 2008 because she couldn’t find any resources for people like herself—women on a budget who wanted honest, objective lingerie advice, reviews, and suggestions. She has since turned it into the #1 resource in her niche, attracting over 100,000 readers a month. In October, she quit her job to offer her consulting services.

I think Treacle has done an amazing job empowering women to embrace their body shape and buy underwear that makes them feel gorgeous.

Nerd Fitness

Steve Kamb is the founder of Nerd Fitness: a community for nerds, desk jockeys, and weekend warriors looking to level up their lives. He built up a strong following and has since expanded with Nerd Fitness Message Boards, a clothing range, and several useful products. He is a natural leader—just look at how he doesn’t pressure people to join his rebellion.

I enjoy his work because he is incredibly savvy, yet has a very friendly/casual tone on his blog. He makes new visitors feel very comfortable in a niche that can feel rather alienating.

Sarah Peck

Sarah describes herself as a storyteller who communicates ideas through words, pictures, and other visual media. Her blog, It Starts With, started as a column about making the transition to the professional world and finding out what’s important for you and your career. It has evolved into a blog on business, generating ideas, entrepreneurship, management, and design. She also leverages blogging for her professional work, and is the founder and editor of Landscape Urbanism.

Sarah emerged in the blogosphere early in 2011 and is shaping up to the one of most unique and inspiring voices online.  Her content is always thought-provoking and will force you to confront the challenge of executing your best ideas. She studies where great ideas come from and help individuals and businesses do great work. Every blogger has a tipping point and her post on 28 in 52 Notes made Sarah a blogger to keep an eye on 2012.

Tara Gentile

Tara Gentile is the editor of Scoutie Girl, a daily zine with the aim of getting you thinking about your creative life and the changing world around you, and the owner of a boutique web design business. She quickly built a reputation as a DIY lifestyle design expert. She has transitioned to consulting and writes about the philosophy of the new economy, creativity, social media, value and meaning, and wealth.

I really resonate with Tara. She has empowered a huge segment of the creative community to take pride in the marketing of their work. Her work has affected an entire industry. I can’t wait to see what she does in 2012.

Joel Runyon

A year ago, Joel was just a guy with an inspiring blog. He wasn’t satisfied with that. He expanded his original blog to create Impossible HQ, a hub that incorporates a separate motivational community, a T-Shirt line, and a manifesto. He also created a separate site, NerveRush, to cater to the adrenalin-seeking segment of his audience.

I think Joel is just getting started with what he has to offer. He is always adding new ways for his community to engage with his site and, as a result, is creating an increasingly passionate readership. I’m really excited to see where he takes the ‘Impossible’ brand in 2012.

More bloggers to watch

Want more? Take a look at these blogging round-ups:

And don’t forget to give us your suggestions in the comments!

Why You Should Wear The 6 Thinking Hats On Your Blog

This guest post is by Nischala Murthy Kaushik.

Wearing the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog helps in generating valuable, interesting and diverse content.

What are the 6 Thinking Hats?

Dr. Edward de Bono’s 6 Thinking Hats is a simple, effective parallel thinking process that helps people be more productive, focused, and mindfully involved. And once they’re learned, the tools can be applied immediately!

The 6 Thinking Hats

Image copyright Lisa F. Young - Fotolia.com

The premise of this concept is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be identified, deliberately accessed and hence used in a structured way to develop strategies for thinking about particular issues.

De Bono identifies six distinct states in which the brain can be “sensitized”. In each of these states, the brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of issues being considered.

His 6 Thinking Hats are:

  1. the White Hat, which calls for information that’s known or needed: “The facts, just the facts.”
  2. the Yellow Hat, which symbolizes brightness and optimism; under this hat you explore the positives and probe for value and benefit
  3. the Black Hat, which is judgment—the devil’s advocate that spots the difficulties and dangers, and where things might go wrong; this is probably the most powerful and useful of the Hats but a problem if overused
  4. the Red Hat, which signifies feelings, hunches and intuition; when using this hat, you can express emotions and feelings and share fears, likes, dislikes, loves, and hates
  5. the Green Hat, which focuses on creativity, the possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas; it’s an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions
  6. the Blue Hat, which is used to manage the thinking process; it’s the control mechanism that ensures the Six Thinking Hats guidelines are observed.

How to wear the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog

Blogging is a testimonial of an individual’s thoughts, creativity, and literary expressions. And the quality of the content you create on your blogs is directly linked to the quality of your thoughts. Given that de Bono’s principles focus on mindful thinking, the Thinking Hats concept is highly relevant to blogging.

In my journey as a blogger for more than two years, I have published 1000+ blogs and have been featured in several forums, communities, and reputable sites. And when I look at the body of work that I have created, I realize today that I have consciously and unconsciously worn these many hats in my blogging.

The Six Thinking Hats can help you create diverse content on your blog, keep it vibrant, enjoy blogging, and create a meaningful relationship with your readers. Here’s how.

The White Hat

Ensure that some content in your blogs are based on hard data and facts. This can be information that you personally know, or links to articles, research, and literature available in published sources.

This is important because:

  • You tend to read and learn about key data and facts before you can blog about them
  • Sometimes the data itself can alter your and others views, comprehension, opinions, judgments, perceptions, and conclusions on a subject
  • you have logged this data for your future reference, and also the reference of your readers
  • you build credibility when you support your views and opinions with hard facts and data
  • readers place more value on the content you generate, since your blog is not purely based on your thoughts and feelings
  • the chance that you’ll be quoted or referenced in other places is significantly higher than if you never wore the White Hat.

The Yellow Hat

Ensure that some content in your blogs gives a positive, bright and optimistic view. This is important because:

  • when you write positive stuff, you tend to think and feel positively
  • when anyone reads your blog, they take-away a positive thought, message or emotion
  • readers are more likely to share a positive post in their sphere of influence—the positivity just spreads and magnifies along the way! And it all started with your blog!

The Black Hat

Ensure that some content in your blogs highlights the difficulties, challenges, risks, dangers, and negatives of your topic. This is important because:

  • this is the reality of life and it needs to be reflected in your blogs; otherwise, you may appear to be in your own dream world, far from reality
  • having all positive, data-driven content does not give the real holistic picture for any topic, hence it is imperative to wear this hat.

The Red Hat

Ensure that some content in your blogs articulates your feelings, hunches, and intuitions. This is important because:

  • it makes you think, introspect, and feel
  • it also gets your readers to think, introspect, and feel
  • it makes you connect within—to draw from your creative imagination
  • it makes you acknowledge, recognize, and appreciate the power of your sixth sense.

The Green Hat

Ensure that some content in your blog is creative, innovative, novel, and radical. This could present your own views or thoughts or something you’ve read and would like to share with your readers. It’s important because:

  • when you read and hear such things, they transport you to a different plane—a different world in which you are able to view the world through a very different lens; this usually gives you a radically different perspective on any topic, and on life itself
  • when you immerse yourself in creative, innovative, novel and radical readings, thoughts and ideas, you tend to dream and visualize beyond the realm of the known.

The Blue Hat

Ensure that some content in your blogs is about processes. This is important because:

  • it makes you clear in your own mind about processes that should be followed
  • it gives you an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and understanding on subjects which you are aware of and strengthens your own personal brand.

Do you wear the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog?

You can wear the 6 Thinking Hats on your blog for many purposes:

  • to choose a topic that you will blog about
  • to write the title of your post
  • to create the actual blog content itself

You can wear one or many hats in a single blog post. But ensure that over a period of time—a month, for example—you wear at least four of the hats in your blog. We all wear the different thinking hats at some point, so the more you wear, the more likely you’ll be to meet the varying needs of your readers.

Do you wear all six thinking hats in your blog? Tell us in the comments.

Nischala Murthy Kaushik currently works at Wipro. She blogs at VERVE: The Quintessence of my Life, Nischala’s Space, Thoughts & Expressions, 12Most.com, PaulWriter, Wipro & Mindblogs. She has completed her MBA from IIMB, one of the premier Business schools in India. She takes pride in being a mother, philosopher, writer, scholar and guru of life for life. You can follow her on Twitter @ nimu9.