Blog School: Lesson Two: When To Write, What To Write & How To Write

Welcome back to Blog School! Today’s lesson is all about writing great blog posts. Some people call this content. Some people call this writing. Some people call this blogging. You can call it Mavis if you want to, but I think we’re on the same page, yes?

In our Facebook group, we’ve had lots of questions about consistency, writing well, finding your voice and more.  (If you haven’t joined the Facebook group, you should. It’s totally happening over there and it’s a great way to stay on track between lessons… and meet other neat people!)  I thought we’d cover a few important content related subjects in this lesson. So let’s go!

1. Consistency
People regularly ask me how I manage to be so consistent with my blogging. I think there are several answers to that question, for me. I thought I would share them with you:

Love your blog: I really do love my blog. It’s my happy place. It’s a place I can express myself. I make the rules. I choose the pace. If you want your blog to work for you, it needs to be a good fit for you, too.  Be sure that you know why you are blogging (see Lesson One!)  Be sure that you are blogging about the kinds things that are meaningful to you.  And be sure that your blog is a good fit.  If it’s not, it will be really hard to maintain and even harder to keep yourself motivated.  Make your blog a place that you love to be.

Make friends: There is nothing better than having a cheer squad and your blog readers and the blogging community can be the ones shaking the pompoms and making those cool people-pyramids. I have a really great cheer squad and they are a big part of my life. Some of them have even become my best friends!  If you reach out to other bloggers, they may also be interested in the things you do.  Don’t be a crazy, schemey, networky blog pal, though.  Make real, meaningful connections with other bloggers you admire, by commenting thoughtfully on their blogs, following the things they do and having a genuine interest in friendship or chatter with them.  As you grow your community and readership, you’ll feel more excited about posting, because you’ll be gathering a lovely cheer squad who loves reading/seeing what you do.

Make time: I am lucky enough to be able to make lots of time for my blog.  I am a full-time blogger.  But perhaps you are NOT a full-time blogger.  And you are super busy with the demands of modern life.  I totally get that.  You’ve probably heard the adage about making time for the things that are important to you. People apply it to exercise all the time, telling you that if you really WANTED to get on that treadmill, go for a walk, do yoga no excuse would get in your way.  Blogging is a bit like that. It’s creative exercise. And it’s important.  Slot some time in each day to at least think about writing or taking photos. If you don’t actually get to your blog, you can at least make notes and you’ll be forearmed when you do.

BE a blogger: I know that some (I’m looking at you Media Watch) think blogging can be a frivolous pursuit, but I’m not sure how you could ever call sitting down and writing, taking time to document and find your place in the world, frivolous. Jeepers.  You need to give yourself permission to blog. Slot that time in and work on your blog proudly.  Do NOT secretly sneak your blogging in. Declare your bloggy intentions and be loud and proud about it.  It is not frivolous, self-indulgent NOR a waste of time to write a blog. It’s very important creative exercise, and your brain and heart will thank you for it.

Tweak it: If your blog is not working for you. Stop and have a think about WHY it’s not working. Is it not looking the way you want? Are you having trouble finding time? Are you not sure of your voice? Are you too tired?  Diagnose the cause of your blog reluctance, then write it down on a sheet of blank paper and think of 5 things you might be able to do to cure the ailment.  Maybe you need more technical advice? Maybe you need more sleep?! Maybe you need to spend half an hour less watching telly? Maybe you need to work out how to write blog posts on the train?  Find out what’s getting between you and your blog.  And then find a fix so you can tweak things and make it work.  (Ask for help in the Blog School Facebook group if you need it!)

If your blog is a great fit, you won’t have trouble posting consistently.  So make sure it’s a great reflection of you and the things you want it to be.

How often should you post?  
Really, you should be the judge of that, but I would say a weekly blog post is a great idea if you want to attract a readership.  More if you feel excited and want to. If your blog is just for you and your family to read, you really can do whatever you like, but if you want to gather readers, you need to have a consistent and committed blog presence.

2. What to write?
Are you often stuck for ideas in the blog post department? Or are you exploding with ideas and not sure what to post first?  If you are the latter, oh-bountiful-idea’d- one, you need an editorial calendar* or a Blog Post Planner which I’ve so helpfully made for you! You can slot those clever ideas straight into a calendar and then write away to your heart’s content with a great plan in front of you.  If you are the former and are not sure what to write, here’s some ideas for you too!

3. How to write a blog post
This is a big one. But I think it doesn’t need to be as tricky as you think!  When I write, I write as myself.  I write in my own voice, in just the way that I would talk to my pals, and I write with all the usual conversational nuances I use when I speak out loud.  When I write I just get started.  I don’t dither around. I form a brief idea and then I just hit the keyboard and pretend my fingers are talking to someone I really like.  I just see where my fingers take me.  Once I’ve got my initial chattery words on the page, I go back and clarify where needed, flesh bits out a little more, shuffle things around to make a tad more sense, spell check and publish.

I know that sounds easy, but procrastination and best manners are the enemy of your blog writing.   Don’t pretend you are writing something perfect for an English exam. Or an application for an internship with some sort of beatnik writerly genius. Don’t have your perfect, best mannered, fancy-pants writing hat on. Oh no. Toss that stage left,  like the silly sombero it is.

What you REALLY need to do is just be you. Be the you that’s chatting to a friend after a nice dinner, shoes off, daggy records on, far too much ice-cream in your bowl, that kinda you. Don’t be afraid to blog as yourself.  Don’t feel that’s not enough, because the combination of authenticity and chatter about experiences and real life things lots of us share in is compelling, relatable and interesting.

You and your story are interesting enough. Your voice is just the right one for your blog. So let’s hear it!

Some great books about writing and blogging:
Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott
If You Want To Write by Barbara Ueland
Blogging For Creatives by Robin Houghton
Blog Inc by Joy Cho

This week’s homework (not at all compulsory!)
Brainstorm some post ideas for your own blog.  You can write an idea on each line, or you can fill the lines with words which might trigger bright ideas. The choice is yours!  You can use the ideas I’ve given in the printable above, or come up with your own.If you’d like to share your homework, you can do that on your own blog (leave a link in the comments here or over in the Blog School Facebook group!)

Buy yourself a notebook and use it JUST for blogging ideas.  Write down those little sparks of inspiration that you get on the tram, in the car, on the bus, wherever.  You can also write down websites, songs, books and other creative notes which might be good blog fodder.

Resources Update:  We’re updating the resource list in the Facebook group pretty much daily. Join in over there for lots of great links and ideas!
Printables: Full size homework and printables from this Lesson will be uploaded to the Facebook group too. Find them in the FILES tab.
*Editorial Calendar > Nikki from Styling You taught me the value of an Editorial Calendar! Find a WordPress Ed Calendar plug-in here.

DO leave me a comment and tell me how you are going (and ask any questions, too!)

x Pip

  • http://www.theveggiemama.com Veggie Mama

    Making time is so important! I write so many reminders now, and email ideas to myself because I can’t always write when inspiration strikes. And writing in your own way is probably the most important piece of advice. I’m sure not everyone warms to my style, but I’d prefer only the people who do to stick around. Besides, it’s the only way that feels right! Xx

    • http://twitter.com/ruthbruten GourmetGirlfriend

      yes! i write ideas down in my notes app on my iPhone as a reminder so when a thought/idea pops into my head I have it written down so I remember in amongst my super doop busyness

      • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

        I love NOTES too, GG! xx

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Yes! Yes! Such good advice from the Veggie lass! xx

  • barbara (patchwork cactus)

    Love love love your advise. And the post ideas are awesome. Thanks so much Pip. I will be doing my homework the old fashioned way, on paper with sparkly pens. Do we have an Instagram tag? if so I will post a pic when I’m done.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Let’s use the tag #blogschool <— good idea!

  • Astrid Janet

    Thanks Pip! Such great information. I just started on my first post today (writing for family/friends) and this valuable info will do me good. See you back on FB for more helpful tips..

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      I am so glad you are here!! x

  • http://twitter.com/mypoppetshop Cintia :: My Poppet

    great stuff here pip. It takes a while to find your rhythm, so don’t be scared to just try things.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      That’s so true, Cintia! xx

  • Astrid Janet (adore_re_mi)

    Barbara (patchwork cactus) great idea about Instagram.. Got my notebook and pens out too!

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      :) xx

  • Ren @ Love Sundays

    That was super! Thanks Pip. Loved your tips on writing a blog post and just letting it flow without thinking too much. And I am starting to set a bit more time for my blogging every couple of days now. My confidence now is more in the look of my blog, what other people think etc now. I think my writing will come more naturally the more I post and about different things. And now I am slowly learning how to use images the more I play around with the apps. I wanted to ask you, how did you display the 4 images in your post today about the folio society?
    My blog is at http://lovesundays.com.au

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Hello Ren! The more you write, the easier the words come, I think! I made that image collage with a free site called PicMonkey : http://www.picmonkeycom : I made the grid of four images first, and saved it. Then I uploaded the finished grid to PicMonkey once more and added the the text. Sometimes I use Photoshop for this too! x

  • Bec @ littleivyblog.com

    This is perfect timing for me Pip. I started blogging a few months ago and post 3 times a week (once on photography, once on a crafty exploit/experiment and once on my journey to become a kitchen goddess) and I was wondering if it was enough…

    I love the blogging ideas – particularly the pinterest roundup as I am a pinterest addict! I might experiment every now and then with something different in my posts.

    I also post about my kitchen/craft disasters. Do people think that is a good idea or a turn off?

    Also great advice re using your own voice. Okay – essay done!

    Thanks again Pip

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      I love the idea of craft disasters! I think that’s funny, cute, real and engaging!!! x

      • Bec @ littleivyblog.com

        Thanks for the vote of confidence!

  • Stella

    Fantastic Pip! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      SO happy to share! x

  • Mother Down Under

    Thank you for all the tips…so helpful!
    I was wondering how I could join the Facebook group?
    Thank you!

  • http://wordnerddiary.blogspot.com Amie

    Ah, THIS is what I needed to hear. Thank you so much, Pip! I’ll definitely be doing this homework and reviving my blogging notebook. I’ve already got a few ideas buzzing around. So excited!

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Yay! It’s good to get a little pick-me-up, right?! x

  • http://twitter.com/Miss_Mandy76 Alittlespacelikehome

    Sometimes I am so stuck for what to write about, at the moment I have so much I want to write about I’ve had to put a little calendar together for the rest of the year to ensure I do miss something out. ebb and flo

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      It’s great to have lots of ideas. And YES.. the editorial calendar totally helps to prioritise them! xx

  • Ginny

    Wow! You’re brilliant. I’m learning heaps.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Aw! GINNY! Thank you! And so glad this is working well for you! x

  • Raylee Syrch

    hi pip, i am still here. when i work out how to link i will post some homework!

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Let me know if you need help with linking! x

  • http://www.facebook.com/tess.carrad Tess Carrad

    What a great list of ideas! I’ll be digging into that for sure.
    And finding my voice is something I need to do.

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      So glad the list works for you! x

  • http://www.facebook.com/Aussieneets Anita Neville

    This, this bit right here: “Stop and have a think about WHY it’s not working. Is it not looking the
    way you want? Are you having trouble finding time? Are you not sure of
    your voice? …Diagnose the cause of your blog
    reluctance, then write it down on a sheet of blank paper and think of 5
    things you might be able to do to cure the ailment.” Like a lightbulb going off in my head, thank you

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      I am so glad to be your Blog Doctor, Anita! x

  • Megan Trousdale

    Pip I appreciate your comment about letting go of good manners, giving yourself permission to be an out and proud blogger and the Blog Post Planner and Editorial Calendar posts. These are really going to help me Blog weekly, sift the good post ideas from the bad and stop worrying about whether a blog idea is good or bad. I declare Tuesday is my new Blog Posting Day.

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  • CJ

    Thank you for sharing. There are some great ideas here and it has helped clear a few things up. Thanks Pip xx

  • Helen

    This sounds great, count me in! I’m finding it harder to make time/have the energy to blog with a small baby – by the time she’s in bed, I feel like I could sleep too! Your section on tweaking it made me think about how I could overcome this so I’m going to try using my phone to blog so that I can do it during feeds. Multi-tasking! Off to do my homework now! my blog is sittinginthekitchensink.blogspot.co.uk

  • candyrosecreations

    Thanks again Pip for some great blogging tips, I’m off to do some homework x Kris

  • Sara Lucas

    Hi Pip! I am L-O-V-I-N-G blog school. Really. And this second post is amazing. Ever since lesson one I already got a notebook that I am using just for my blog and I also put all the printables there. It is amazing what one can do with just a little work. Ever since this started, I figured lots of problems with my blog. You see, I was using it only to show my crafts, when that wasn’t all the things I wanted to show. I always tried to keep my life somewhat distant to my blog and you are right, that is not possible. One should show also write about her lifestyle and inspiring things. And you what helped? When you asked why we liked the blogs we like. Right that instant, I realized I love to read crafty-lifestyle blogs and that I was depriving my blog of what I loved! Thank you so much for opening my eyes and creating this amazing space where I can take the time and think about blogging.

    ps . – I totally agree that I should not be so formal with my posts, that is something I am trying to change. You see, at first it is not easy to give ourselves like that, but in the end, that is almost what we really need.

    have a nice week!

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Oh wow. I am so pleased that the things I am writing are impacting on you in such an EXCITING way!! xx

  • http://twitter.com/MrsDandCandybow Robyn de Beer

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I have only just stumbled upon your blog school and I have it. Off to bed with my ipad now to read up! xx

  • http://www.facebook.com/felicity.macqueen Felicity Macqueen

    Loving these posts Pip, I’m a perfectionist procrastinator, hence why my blog has been ‘in development’ for a few years now!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cheryl.mummytofive Cheryl Mummytofive

    Cool ideas here. Thanks Pip!

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  • Sam @ ittybittypolkadot

    I feel really encouraged here by what you said about finding your voice. I think I write too much with my fancy pants writing hat on when instead I should not procrastinate and just type …! :) This is really encouraging and I especially appreciate all the free resources you are giving out! (I love the blog post planner!)

    • http://www.justbaustralia.com.au/ Pip @ JustB

      Oh that’s such great feedback, Sam! Thank you for taking the time to comment and let me know how it is for you! x

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