The Art of Strong Blogging Content

There are tips and articles galore on how to color, brand, and promote your blog. I’ve read post after post on SEO, Sidebar layout, and affiliate marketing. But at the end of the day, my blog won’t succeed, no matter how much of that stuff I do, if I don’t write.

This post is about letting go and venturing into a space that might make you uncomfortable. If you are looking for a bullet list of tips and exercises to help you come up with good content, you will not find it here. See, true creativity in any art form [writing, painting, photography] is ever elusive. It is a flirt. And as writers we need to be in pursuit of it. But how?

How to Focus on the Art of Strong Blogging Content

The Art of Strong Blog Content

 

How I began

Blogging for me all began with a love for writing. I enjoy putting my thoughts on paper [now screen]. After years of not writing, I began a personal blog called Lessons in Semantics just to help me process through life. I wasn’t trying to grow my reader base. I wasn’t looking to be published. I wasn’t writing for an audience.

 

Well, my love for blogging grew. So my husband and I started a joint blogging venture [The Kid Project]. And my life and my time was drawn into design, layout, social networking, and the list goes on… After a few months I was at a loss over what to write about. I started by reading other blogs in my demographic [family/outdoors]. And while there was an occasional article that impressed me, I began to notice we were all writing about the same things. Boring!

 

Then I started devouring the web, looking for new gear, stories, or people that I could write about. I was desperate for something good. But found nothing. And then one day, the best thing happened. Overwhelmed, I gave up looking for content.

 

How I found content again.

I got back to life! I moved my 20 month old out of her crib and into a “big girl” bed. I had coffee with girlfriends, I skied with the kids, I took naps and read Cooking Light. I played legos with my 5 year old, tried to groom my dog myself [and failed], and made peanut butter bars. I started working on a few photography assignments, laughed a little more, and tried to really see the world around me. And all the sudden I had something to write about.

 

Blogs are designed to be personal. People read them because they connect with the reader at a personal level. And that means in a very basic way, they want to read something real. Humans want to be inspired and informed but mostly we want to connect. Without connection, our readers are lost…and without us connecting with our daily world, the people that come into and out of our moments, and the things that mark our soul, we will loose our edge as writers. One of my favorite photographers, Chris Orwig says it this way, “The best poets are tied to the earth. They live regular lives and wear regular clothes. They walk around incognito, yet they look at the world with keen eyes…By listening we can begin to notice, and then eventually tell more” (Visual Poetry, Chris Orwig).

 

Determine what works for you.

Do you want to capture your audience with an amazing post [or series of them]? Well, start by listening. Have you been swallowed by the Internet? Shut off the computer. Turn off the scheming. What are you passionate about? Bothered by? What recent experience struck you? What is going on around you?

 

My latest series [The Newborn Chronicles] over at The Kid Project started this way. My baby was becoming a toddler. I was struck by recently dismantling and packing away the crib. I was passionate about encouraging parents in the intense newborn/infant stage of life. Why? Because I was realizing how fast it flies by. And so a whole series enfolded from my “letting go and living in the moment.” And my passion to encourage and the humble sympathy of having recently gone through it flowed into my writing.

 

I am always wrong in predicting the popularity of my posts [so maybe this whole theory is wrong]… Often when I least expect it, I will be hit with a flurry of emails thanking me for “such and such” post. But I’ve noticed this trend – people connect when they can see into my life and read about something honest. This takes a certain amount of vulnerability. Go there. Do it. And if that step is too “out there,” start here: Look at your most popular posts and try to figure out why they are beloved. Ask some good friends which posts are their favorite and why. Let go of what other bloggers are doing and write from your life and heart. And that ever elusive “great post” might just be nipping at your heels.

 

About the Author

Hi! I’m Alyssa Erickson. I am a Jesus lover, wife, mom, rock climber, skier, and all around adventure lover with a passion for writing. I have my B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Colorado and have been blogging for nearly two years. You can learn more about me over at The Kid Project or Lessons in Semantics, my two homes in the blogging world.
About Ashley Abele

Ashley is a mom of 3 young children, social media consultant and blogger. She focuses on strategizing for bloggers and small businesses to help them reach their online potential and subsequent sales potential as cofounder of Other Half Media. When she’s not busy creating blogger outreach programs, email or social media campaigns, she blogs her life, parenting, and frequent moves at My Front Porch Swing. Connect on @AshleyNAbele on Twitter and on Facebook.

Comments

  1. Thanks so much! This is uber-helpful!
    The Jobless Wonder recently posted..I’m on Twitter!

  2. This is excellent and very true advice. I am a somewhat new blogger and am still trying to finding a balance between being informative and chatty. I think it finally clicked for me that the blogs I like reading the most AND get the best advice from are the ones where moms share their real life experiences. I am trying to do that in my new blog The Chewy Mommy and am hoping to give others as much from my words as they have given me. I am not sure I would have survived the newborn stage of my first child without mommy blogs.
    Chloe recently posted..The Case of the Sleep Deprived Mommy

  3. I’ve been struggling with what I wanted my blog to focus on for the longest time because I love so many things and I’ve had these same exact thoughts in the back of my mind. Sometimes you have to step back and not think about money and blog hits and write about things that make YOU enjoy. Thank you for this post! I needed to read this.
    Jaida recently posted..April 10th: One Day Without Shoes

  4. Great advice. I write about the things I care about, what I have a passion for (photographing my garden flowers!) and I enjoy writing amusing, interesting things about my life–especially if I happen on a good prompt to remind me of one!
    Madamdreamweaver recently posted..Live Long and Prosper

  5. As a new mom-blogger, this is great advice :) I should draw out from my experiences in order to be a better storyteller, and for my readers to relate more. Thank you!
    Chesca recently posted..Happy Holy Week!

  6. Alyssa – I’m wrong about predicting the popularity of my posts too. I keep seeing the tips that tell us to how to write posts that will go viral. I’m convinced that it I just stay true to my voice, then I’ll be good.

    This is a great post. I love blogging too and I really should be cutting back, but I keep finding myself trying new and different things, because it’s so much fun!

    Kimberly
    Kimberly Gauthier, Keep the Tail Wagging recently posted..Celebrating a Milestone | Life’s Abundance Gift Basket for Dog Lovers

  7. I think it’s important to balance between great content and also making sure your blog is friendly to the user. So I do spend some time on design.

    But I agree that the most important thing is to “write what you know.” If you aren’t true to yourself, that will come through in your writing and the disingenuous aspect will turn people off to reading more.
    Tiffany recently posted..Five Minute Friday – Gift

  8. Great post. Great reminders. You look so young. And those moms, they do need encouragement.
    Laura recently posted..Love the snake

  9. “And my life and my time was drawn into design, layout, social networking, and the list goes on…”

    You hit the nail on the head! As a new blogger…I’m sucked into these things…and they are so important. But, it is also easy to get caught up with them and forget why I am blogging.
    I have to remind myself of the reasons I started my blog, and tell myself that it is OK to just simply write…and let the other “stuff” wait for a bit.
    Suzanne @The Wine{a}be recently posted..A Rainy Day in Napa…

  10. I love this. Affirms what I’m attempting to do. Thank you!
    Lydia recently posted..Just call me Geoffrey…

  11. Great tips–I’m new to self-hosting and was losing myself in the technical aspects when all I really want to do is write. I finally got the blog to a point where it feels like me and not a WordPress template! There’s much room to grow up I’m going to focus on the writing.
    Old Married Lady recently posted..Secrets of a Joyful Marriage, Pt. 1

  12. Great post, thanks for sharing!
    Bernice @ The Stressed Mom recently posted..For when you don’t know what to write

  13. This is all I know to do, is write about my life: what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling.
    My best posts come from this, I think.
    Susan in the Boonies recently posted..Lord and Lady Boonie Strut Their Stuff

  14. OH how I love this post!! I have goosebumps; everything you’ve said here is so true.
    This is it – this is how we write great stuff – we have to LIVE!
    Thanks for this post, I’ll be tweeting it and facebooking it and pinning it.
    Then I’m coming over to visit… because you sound like my kind of people.
    xx
    Simone @Greatfun4kids recently posted..Stuff I’m Learning That’s Changing Everything

  15. Hi Alyssa!
    Thanks for setting me straight. For more than a year I wanted to have a blog. But, being the perfectionist I am, I wanted to do it “right.” And “right” for me meant a WordPress/StudioPress real deal blog. And of course I wanted to hire it to be designed and set up for me. Code and all that geeky stuff, I appreciate but have no knowledge at all. So, that was my plan. Unemployment for both my husband and me…not part of my plan. However, at Thanksgiving there was a sale. I got my hosting, bought a Genesis & a StudioPress child theme and thought I can do this myself. Yay! And I went merrily sailing down the way. That is until a big dark cloud came my way. My rose colored glasses led me to believe that I could just plug and play. Well not exactly. I did figure out how to get most everything set up like the SEO and Feedburner, etc., etc. But not my banner and the social icons and one or two other things. And then I let the cloud descend on me and I started reading. And reading. And reading more. And completely lost my way. Now I’m reading all kinds of blogs, for hours on end. But, doing nothing on mine. My husband occasionally says, “Did you write today?” “Forget that it looks goofy, just write.” You get it, I’m sure. I need to do, just what you suggested, shut off the computer and live. Do life. And write about it.
    Oh. And I stopped by your blog, Lessons in Semantics. You and your husband have a lot of wisdom for your years. I enjoyed, appreciated, and even learned a few things there. Yay you! Yay God!
    Blessings!

  16. I’ve noticed that when you’re writing from the heart, it doesn’t even matter whether you’re getting any feedback.
    Classic NYer recently posted..On the blog bash linkup

  17. As others have said, this is a great post and something that I’ve been thinking a lot about too. As a relatively new blogger, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by everything that’s out there, all the other blogs and what everyone else is writing. I think it’s important to step back from reading other blogs every once in a while and refocus on what matters to you and why you started blogging in the first place. Thanks for this!
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..Bye Bye ACL. It’s been nice knowing you.

  18. Oh my gosh, I’ve done the same thing. I’ve thought that I had nothing to write about and just got bored with all the same old stuff. I’ve been blogging for several years now, but I’ve only recently felt like I’ve found my true voice. Once I started to ignore all those articles about what I should blog about and just wrote what I wanted to write, I found I always had inspiration. My most popular posts are the random things that come from my brain that I never thought anyone would relate to…but they do!

  19. Great tip! I also find it easiest to write from the heart. If it’s something you are passionate about it just flows out so much more easily than something you have to think about.
    Krystle recently posted..Elfishki and The Giant Cake: Interactive iPad Book for Kids [Review]

  20. This is such gret motivation and inspiration. I try to write from the heart but sometimes wander astray. Your advice to step away from the computer is so true.
    Tricia recently posted..Twenty-four days

  21. great post!
    Bonnie Ferrell recently posted..Baby Proofing 101

  22. Great post. I’m so trying to write from the heart about what I want to write about. It’s hard, but who said anything challenging was easy!
    Carolina recently posted..Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

  23. Great post good advice!!!
    Sheila recently posted..Are you caring for the Elderly?

  24. Sometimes you have to live life to find what to blog about! I know that sounds silly, but whenever I get blogger’s block I get out of the house and go somewhere and have fun!
    New Jersey Memories recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Early Cherry Blossoms!

  25. This is the perfect message for me at the perfect time. I’m finding myself in danger of being sucked into the whirlpool of the Internet. I needed that reminder that what I write about is the stuff that happens in the real world. I need to focus my time there. I’m glad you wrote this.
    Cynthia M recently posted..The Hillbilly Speaks

  26. Thanks everyone for the amazing feed back!
    Alyssa Erickson recently posted..In it for the Long Haul [A "Made for Adventure" Marriage]

  27. Amen. Nothing attracts me more than great content.

    I know a lot of people write on schedule; more power to them. I write when I have something to say that is bursting from my heart. I’ve tried it the other way, and it just doesn’t work for me.
    misssrobin recently posted..I Was Too Embarrassed to Say Anything

    • Missrobin …. your comment just jumped out at me! I have found the same exact thing … when I try to force myself to write at a certain time/day, it just doesn’t work out well. I tend to write/get inspired in “creative spurts” and compose several posts at once …
      Thanks for sharing!

  28. Oh how I LOVE this post! This speaks so much to my blogging philosophy.

    And I the line… “yet they look at the world with keen eyes…By listening we can begin to notice…” Brilliant. That is so me.
    Jen recently posted..I am THAT Scary Lady

  29. I’m so glad I read your post. I’m a newbie at blogging and it’s all very overwhelming to me right now. I agree with your advice 100%!

    Thanks for sharing and have a blessed day!

    Rebecca
    Rebecca M. recently posted..A Day in the Life with 64 Rolls of Toilet Paper

  30. I agree with everything you said. I’ve been blogging for 7 yrs this May and while I know nothing of SEO and blog layout (I let others do it for me) I do write. I write about my infertility, my struggles, my marriage, my fiction, my twin sons and I when I write from the heart, when i make it personal and show a piece of myself it’s always GOOD.

    this was a fantastic article. I’m so glad to have met you. Going to check out your blog now.
    Kir recently posted..RemembeRED: The Power of the Internet

  31. Great advice! It’s certainly hard to get through a slump in creativity. I find this happens when I’m too tired, or have spent too much time reading other blogs. I find that taking a break from my screen helps A LOT! A good brisk walk can do wonders for post ideas! {Just keep a small notebook handy.} ;) Thanks for sharing!
    Michelle @ Green Earth Bazaar recently posted..DIY Oatmeal Homemade Face Scrub and Mask

  32. EXCELLENT advice ! ” I gave up looking for content” that really hit home for me. I am on my way to your blog (s)
    Getting a fresh cup of coffe – see you there!
    Have a PRETTY day!
    Kristin

  33. What a great post. I enjoyed it because I saw you in the “trying” to write as you forced it and the “writing” as you let go.

    How to do translate passion and self, when your blog is mainly tips in a particular niche?

    Thanks

    Carla K.
    Carla Kennedy recently posted..The Top 7 Beauty Commandments

    • I am not sure I understand the total scope of the question. But in posts where I have specific tips or bullet lists I want to share, I always open the post with a personal story (either of success or failure) that will connect with the audience. I want them to know there is a person beyond the “tip.”

      For example, on a post sharing tips for packing to go skiing, I might first share the story of a long arduous trip with my own kids, where we arrived and realized we had forgotten our kid’s ski boots. Agh! Just typing that brings me back!

      Another thing I do in my posts is try to write like I am sitting down having a conversation with the people. It adds voice and tone to your writing. Something that will increase the “passion and self” in your writing.
      Alyssa Erickson recently posted..Can your 22 month old ride a bike? Yes, they can.

  34. Plain and simple…wonderful advice! It really is easy to get sucked into the black hole of the internet and focused on what everyone else is writing about. Stepping away is important. THANKS FOR THIS!
    Marie recently posted..Those Wacky Duggars Are At It Again…

  35. Often I get my best response when I’m authentically asking others for help (not just adding the “what di you think” questions at the end of the post)

    Or when relating a problem I have had and how I solved it.

    Thanks for this post. It has got me thinking about the topics I’m holding back on. I think it’s time to put them out there.

    I also like the part about stopping reading other blogs for a while. This advice helped me when I took it about a year ago. Made my content more from the heart. I check the other blogs about once a month now and just concentrate on my own experiences.
    Young Yoga Masters recently posted..The Hunger Games Yoga For Teens & Tweens

  36. Great advice! I know there have been many times when I’ve been so overwhelmed by the rest of the web – I’m happy to know I’m not alone!
    Ashley recently posted..Kitchen Adventures – Cooking Class Date Idea

  37. This is great advice. NOT easy but great advice. The post that I get the most feed back from are the ones I write from the heart. Sometimes, when everyone is watching like: my mother, sisters, aunts and cousins, I just don’t want to write from the heart. :) I’m going to post more and give it all a shot.

    Thanks for the post!
    Lisa@Advent’s Adventures recently posted..A birthday, a few pictures and a creamy cake

  38. Great advice. I struggle with this sometimes. Thanks for the motivation.
    Leigh Powell Hines (@Hinessightblog) recently posted..Want to Experience the Magic of Disney? Don’t Leave Home without the Beyond the Attractions Guide Book for 2012

  39. The post that get the best feedback on my blog are the ones that come from my heart.
    JDaniel4′s Mom recently posted..Pause Life for a Moment-Preppy Girl in Pink

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