It All Starts With Fundamental Writing
Essentially, blogging starts with the foundation of all structured writing: the dreaded 5 paragraph essay drilled into you in high school English and English Comp 101 from your freshman year in college. Now, that's not to say you can't be creative or develop your own style, but your voice, your style, your creativity will come out and show itself as you develop both the discipline and acquire the experience of writing.
The point I'm driving at here is similar to a novice musician learning to play his instrument – there are rudiments every musician has to master in order to progress and develop in their skill. Take Eddie Van Halen or Neil Peart for example, Eddie Van Halen had to master scales, keys, notes, chords, and time signatures to become a world renowned guitarist. Neil Peart on the other hand had to master paradiddles, flams, 5-stroke rolls, buzz rolls, and drum kit basics to eventually be considered the greatest drummer to ever live.
The 5 paragraph essay is the foundation – the rudiment – to all good blogging. Like Eddie Van Halen and Neil Peart had to master the rudiments of their instruments to be able to recombine them into mind-blowingly fantastic solos, the good blogger will have mastered the rules of fundamental writing by way of mastering the 5 paragraph essay as the foundation upon which he or she builds their blog writing.
Plan Your Topics in Advance – Editorial Calendar
The next item to assist your blogging efforts is to plan your topics in advance. Some of the benefits of this approach include:
In writing, the most stressful times you will ever experience are those moments when you're sitting at your keyboard saying, "I've got to write something today, but I don't know what!" From my own blogging experience, the times when blogging has not been stressful coincided with when I had taken the time to plan out those topics about which I wanted to write.
I'm not necessarily advocating an uber-complex editorial calendar like advertising agencies use; however, I recommend a simple system that alerts you to what you want to cover during certain times of the month or year. It can be as simple as a piece of notebook paper with the name of the month at the top and you annotate Week 1: topic A, Week 2: topic B, Week 3: topic C, Week 4: topic D. Whatever system you use, use the one most comfortable to who you are and your personality.
Knowing what you want to write about ahead of time reduces stress because you have a window to do research and gather ideas before your sit down to put pen on paper.
Not only does planning your topics in advance help reduce the stress of blogging, but it gives you the ability to sharpen your focus. Now, what do I mean by that?
Quite simply, knowing your topics in advance gives you the opportunity to sift through the myriad of sub-topics and competing ideas to find the one gem you're passionate about or the pearl of wisdom from which you know someone else will benefit if you share it. Or, the topics you want to cover have so many sub-topics that you need break the subject matter down into just one topic per blog post for reader-friendliness.
Having good focus keeps you on target and your readers will thank you for it.
Stick With Your Cadence – Blogging Schedule
Planning your topics in advance and having good focus sets the table for you to establish a cadence to your writing. People are creatures of habit – I am no exception. Once you establish your writing schedule, your readers will come to expect you to produce your piece on roughly the same time all the time. It's about consistency, and consistency is an aspect of leadership. At the end of the day, your blog is your opportunity to show your subject matter expertise.
I don't want to spend too much time chasing the leadership rabbit, so....
We were talking about cadence in blogging. There is a primary example of cadence that comes to mind to illustrate my point. The example is the traditional TV programming model. This is where a new season for your favorite TV show is created and a new episode is aired once a week for the 23 – 26 new episodes minus (of course) major holidays and major sporting events. Even Netflix follows a cadence with the production and release of their for-Netflix-only shows (e.g. Daredevil). The difference is Netflix model takes into account binge-watching, but they still stick with a cadence for publishing new TV shows/seasons.
Consistency – you expect to see a new episode of your show every week. Cadence – your readers expect to read a new blog post every day, or week, or month depending upon the schedule you've established.
Do it well and your readers will let you know when you've missed the regular time for your post.
In closing, I hope you've taken a few things away in your quest for how to blog. Mastering the rudiments, having a plan, and sticking with your schedule creates consistency, which leads to trust, and eventually allows you to demonstrate not only your subject matter expertise but your leadership also.