It’s summertime and if you’re like most people, you didn’t include your blog in your spring cleaning rotation. Just as artists and musicians go through different phases and creative change-ups, bloggers need to “clean house” and evolve with the seasons as a way to improve, fine-tune and stay relevant.
These blogging ideas are hot out of the oven, right off the conveyor belt, organically grown and sealed air-tight to preserve freshness. These fresh ideas are guaranteed to win new readers and increase the interaction and engagement levels of those you already have.
Change the background color(s) on your site. It’s like rearranging your furniture.
Rework (or create) your logo. Make it something that will scale, big or small (something you can turn into a favicon or print on a t-shirt).
Ditch the long URL by upgrading your WordPress- or Blogspot-hosted sites to your own hosting (the mark of a serious blogger).
Commit to implement, learn and use Google Analytics. Digging into your site’s metrics is the best way to improve your design and your writing. It empowers you to give back to your readers.
Add social bookmarking buttons and an RSS button to your site and posts (WordPress plug-ins make this a piece of chocolate cake).
Make your site “open” by allowing readers to post comments without registering (registration can be a barrier to participation).
Cross-pollinate your blog with your Twitter account (which implies that you should have a Twitter account). Once again, this is cake-easy with WordPress plugins.
Learn HTML and CSS so you can make the kinds of minor tweaks that will sharpen your design.
Revamp your writing ambience. Write outside, write with a huge grin on your face until you finish, or write with a lemon wedge in your mouth. (It may even shorten your writing time).
Develop theme days to create some reader-reward attachment. SEOmoz does “Whiteboard Friday.” Maybe you do “Rainy Day Reviews” when it rains.
Create something offline and share it online, be it photography, a cooking experiment, a poem, or a blind contour drawing. Do it as a planned post rather than an afterthought.
Go the extra mile for a post to show your dedication. For example, instead of just raving about something, make a Facebook fan page and pitch it to your readers. (As an example, see a page I created about my passion for retro stripes).
Look for opportunities to interview a professional as part of a blog post. It’s more than most bloggers are willing to do for their readers.
Do way too much research for a blog post so that you become the comprehensive, exhaustive “blogosphere” reference on the topic.
Shorten your blog titles. Make them short enough to get mileage on Twitter, i.e., someone can retweet and include the blog post, host blog, short URL to the post, and a personal endorsement–all in under 140 characters. Format: “RT @scottcowley 25 Freshest Summer Blogging Tips | SEO.com http://bit.ly/abc123 – Nice post.”
Use a story or example in every post. A commonality of buzz-less posts is that while they may be true and helpful, they are unmemorable and have not pushed any “reader engagement buttons,” which is what stories and examples do.
Devote a paragraph to a particular niche of people you find interesting. SEO guru Jeff once highlighted librarians in just a portion of his post about new search engines and random librarian news sites started linking to it, sending hundreds of visitors his way. You’ve got to give credit to those types of plugged-in groups.
Write amazing titles. In the Twitter and social bookmarking world, you are judged by your headlines and not by your content. Use the words “fresh, new, hot, or end-all” (5 points if you can do all of them in one title). The great marketing secret is that one man’s “old and boring” is another man’s “fresh, new, hot, or end-all” so don’t be self-conscious about making such claims.
Create a video tutorial. Make sure it exudes the “you” brand like your writing does. For example, my wife’s Masters research explores new media’s place in the writing classroom so she created a video called “What is New Media?” Low budget, but effectively “academic.”
Highlight current events. Hot topics are the sharpest hooks. As proof, one of the most read SEO.com blogs ever was actually a review for a new Android phone that our CEO bought. If you have any connection whatsoever to a current trend or event, jump on it before it stales.
Commit to marketing your own posts. Don’t be a purist. You wrote it. If it was good enough to post, it is good enough to market, share, Tweet, Digg, Stumble, etc. Self-promotion as a blogger will give you valuable experience.
Be a blogosphere/Twittersphere octopus. If you mention someone, someone’s blog or post, site, company, or anything with a figurehead web presence, use a brief blog comment or tweet to let them know that you did. People love recognition, and goodwill spreads like the pox.
Try responding directly to all comments made about your post. You may be surprised at how easy it is and how responsive your readers will be at this newfound interaction.
Use targeted requests for comments on your post. After you post, make a list of the people who would be most interested in the topic and send them a Twitter DM asking for their comments. Last week, Jacob Brown used this great technique to get my feedback on his post.
Use blogging as ongoing experimentation. Take detailed notes and track the metrics surrounding your blog posts. Figure out what works for your blog and readership and revisit successful approaches as a means to test and refine your best practices.
Have you ever done a major clean-up of your blogging? Did you try anything with amazing results? Any failures you’d share with others