Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Blog Topic Selection System

Blog topic tips

[NOTE: This is an exact replica of a post I published at Blog Core Values.]

Have you ever wondered what to blog about?

Ever felt frustrated, having nothing to say?

Have you perhaps even felt close to just giving up, and not blogging anymore?

Please wait. Don't give up. Maybe I can help you figure out what to say. I may be able to give you a Blog Topic Selection System you can keep in the back of your mind.

Here it is.

I think all these pointers apply to all types of blogs: personal, business, political, technical, journalist, artistic, religious, etc.

a Vaspers The Grate

Blog Topic Selection System

(1.) Other Blogs.

Visit another blog you admire, in the same topic field as yours. Read a few recent or archived posts, then react to something they said.

Or visit some other blog that's in a very different field, read some posts, and try to think of how some information in it could be of benefit to your readers. Quote some of the information, with proper credits (notice how I do it in my blogs: author name, blog title, date, typed URL and hyperlink the title of the article so readers can quickly go to it, [QUOTE] and [END QUOTE] markers indicating what is being quoted.).

WARNING: Some blogs or web sites will not allow you to quote anything at all (usually uptight MSM news sites), or severely limit quotes to a few sentences (Joel Spolsky's Joel on Software blog, for example).

(2.) Reader Needs & Interests.

Think about what you know about your readers. Think of comments they post on your blog. Do your comment posters ask for clarification on anything? Do they like music? Do they like art? What type of readers are you hoping to reach? Write something that will draw such readers to your blog when those people do a Google search on a related key word or phrase.

What expertise or experience do you have that might benefit your readers? Write about that. Or go get some new information online or in a library, and after you've done enough research, write about that.

Nearly everybody needs to know more about HTML, safe web surfing, computer security, network security, prevention of Identity Theft, keeping young people from online predators, web design, RSS, tags, digital art, digital cameras, blog template tweaking, how to add images to your blog sidebar, and so forth.

(3.) Blog Visitor Stats.

View the web statistics on your blog, through whatever site stats service you use. Do you have a lot of readers in Africa or Belgium? Maybe you could write something about something related to their culture, their food, their traditional music styles, whatever.

(4.) Raging Blogosphere Controversies.

If you're reading this sentence on this blog right now, you're already in the center of the maelstrom of blog debates. I try to stay current with the blogospheric controversies, such as character blogs, comments enabling, blogs vs. MSM, and such. Other blogs also deal with such things.

Another way to stay up to date with blogo-combat is to Google various words or phrases related to various topics of debate.

(5.) Serious Issues of the World.

You could write something about disaster relief, Islamo-fascists vs. good Muslims, world hunger, pacifism vs. war-mongering, etc.

I personally avoid most of these issues, because I'm basically non-political. But I did post a lot about the Iraq elections, and some about the UN wanting to control the internet, the McCain-Feingold insanity about blogs being political financial-equivalent contributions, and debt relief for Africa.

(6.) Poetry, Literature, Art, Music.

Variety is great in any blog. So try not to post the same old stuff all the time. I tend to like to express my rage at mediocrity, stupidity, and the mainstream media. Thus, I have to deliberately think of less angry things to post. One guaranteed way to add variety and light to your blog is to pick up a book of poetry or classic literature, read something, then quote it with proper credits, and make some observations about it.

Or write about some artist, artwork, musician, or music that you like, or have recently discovered. Most people have some interest in artistic and philosophic items, as long as you keep it simple, interesting, and relevant to other aspects of life. I write about net music labels, deconstruction, and literary figures like Proust and Rimbaud now and then.

(7.) Television, Films, Radio, Podcasts.

You could write about something you saw, read, or heard on other media.

For example, I saw on tv a 60 Minutes report about 13 guys, paramedics from New York City, who were the only medical help in the Kashmir region of Pakistan, Taliban/Al Queda country, where the earthquake hit. These brave NYC paramedics were there just to help the injured and sick, but as a consequence of their benevolence, the Pakistani people were seeing America in a new and loving light.

The paramedics were winning hearts and minds, and stemming the tide of terrorism, without that being their main intention. This would be a perfect example of something to write about.

(8.) Personal Experiences Relevant to Others.

Finally, let me suggest you think of a conversation, episode, past job, family situation, or anything that happened to you. What did you learn from the event? What do you regret? What are you proud of? Could relating this event make others laugh? Make them smarter?

We all have interesting personal anecdotes, funny stories, weird events, that others could benefit from knowing about. You could write about them once in a while, letting your unique personality shine through.

How about the time I found a rat swimming in a toilet I was getting ready to sit on, at ACT Bending & Steel, a factory I worked at, located by the Illinois River. Have I ever told you how my foreman came in, hobbling because his girlfriend had shot him in the leg with a pistol, and how he smashed the toilet and rat with a huge iron crowbar? Now you know.

Too much of this can backfire. So be careful not to blabber on and on about personal trivia that others may consider too self-centered and not relevant to their own lives. Too much drivel about your baby, your web design genius, your hatred for the MSM, George Bush, or Hillary Clinton, too much private ax grinding of any type can repulse people. I have to be careful of this myself, so I'm preaching to me as well as to you.

There you go.

Have I forgotten something?

Do you have some other method for coming up with blog posts?

Email me, or post a comment. Thanks.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate


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