I’m at the Back to the Blog event at Duke, organized by Anton Zuiker and Cara Rousseau. One attendee just asked how to find time to blog, which is one of the most common questions I’ve been asked over the past five years. I have a number of standard responses:
*Look for content you’re already creating, from white papers to long emails, and repurpose them.
*Look at what you’re doing that isn’t working and stop doing it to free up more time.
*A blog post doesn’t have to be a white paper; a short, interesting post or a link to another post your audience will find useful is enough.
Yet I still do most of my blogging (the little I do these days) late at night. I have a job where I could easily justify blogging during the workday, but I don’t. I write after my wife and son go to bed (or sometimes before they wake up). I’ve always done my best creative work late at night, whether on this blog, my book or presentations for work.
I wonder if that’s one of the reasons people feel they don’t have time to blog, because writing is a creative and personal activity that we want to do well. I have to be in the right mood to blog well and enjoy it. I don’t feel that way about other work-related tasks. It’s not as though I’ve ever thought, “I’m too tired to come up with a clever formula for this spreadsheet.”
One of the big challenges I’ve set for myself is to blog short items more frequently, but I don’t. Instead, I post more to Facebook (which leads to another question for another time).
I have abandoned some of the niceties I used to observe on this blog, notably posting photos and adding links. I used asterisks above instead of the HTML for bullets. (Did you notice? Do you care?) Those things don’t take that much time, but they take enough time (and are hard enough to do by mobile) that giving them up feels freeing.
But still it’s easier to post to Facebook, and I do it more often than I post here by a factor of, what, 100? I wonder how much of that is because blogging feels like Writing, with a capital W, and writing is a skill I respect and don’t want to devalue.
A survey of Inc. 500 companies shows the first decline in corporate blogging since 2007. Many are switching their content efforts to Facebook. Big mistake, as Janet Meiners Thaeler
points out in the post linked above. I agree with everything she says.
And here’s another way to think about it; Facebook is a valuable channel, but it’s not the Internet. It’s a walled garden, as we’ve come to call it. If you put your content solely on Facebook, you’re saying, “I don’t want my content on the Web, just this one place that can only be found one way by one group of people.” (Even if there are 800 million of them.)
As Janet suggests (and many of us have been advising companies for years), publish to your blog, then share the link in all your other networks.
As long as people still search the Web, a company blog should be at the core of your content strategy.
I’ve had a self-hosted WordPress blog at dbthomas.com for several years, because I wanted to have control over my content for the long haul, and because, frankly, I thought as someone working in social media, it imparts at least a little bit of geek cred.
These days I find myself using Facebook more than anything, along with a new fascination with Pinterest and a lingering obsession with Instagram. I also find myself coming across a lot of excellent and interesting Tumblr blogs. In fact, when I designed this blog on the Thesis framework, I intentionally wanted it to have attributes of a Tumblr blog. I wanted to be able to post quick photos and thoughts, and share images and videos.
I suppose I could do that, but I seldom do, except for the Daddyblog posts. It just occurred to me this morning what’s missing:
When I go to a Tumblr blog or a Pinterest board or an Instagram photo, I see items that people have shared from other sources, and shared items from people in that network I haven’t yet discovered. Often that leads me to those places and those people, and I find a new source I want to follow. When I do that, those new sources show up, for instance, in my Pinterest or Instagram feed.
That doesn’t happen for me anymore with blogs, because I just don’t get any pleasure out of using Google Reader. I have a lot of blogs loaded into Flipboard, but I don’t read them as much as I used to.
I want a blogging platform that is:
1. As easy to post to (desktop or mobile) as Facebook.
2. As easy to follow people (and be followed) as Twitter.
3. A good bookmarklet and mobile app that makes it quick and easy to grab and share images from the web and photos I’ve taken.
4. Allows for serendipity.
5. Treats images as well as Pinterest does.
6. Allows me to share posts directly to Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. (I know Facebook doesn’t want me to do that.) And not a plug-in that does those things; I want to be able to pick and choose. That’s a check box in Instagram that asks where you want to share your photos, why can’t it be one in a blogging platform?
7. Let’s me easily export my content, or maybe archive it to this blog. Or something. I still have a hard time getting over the idea that any platform I pick other than this one is likely to be gone in five years.
What do you suggest (other than medication for OCD)?
I think Posterous is a great platform, and a really simple and flexible way to start (or reinvigorate) a blog. I started using it because it lets you post by email, and tell it where you want your text and photos to go. So if I take a picture of The Boy and want to put it on Facebook and Flickr, I email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Posterous knows my email address and thus knows how to find my particular Posterous site.
Here’s the only thing I don’t like: If I post a photo via Posterous to my (this) blog, the photo doesn’t live here, it lives at Posterous and links from here to there. Now I wish the Posterous folks a long and prosperous career, and from what I’ve seen (and the support I’ve gotten when asking questions) they deserve it.
But if they go away, I don’t want my photos to go with them. Even if they don’t go away, I want control of my own photos. I’ve had a blog on Typepad since 2003 and the only reason I’m still paying the $8.95 a month is because all my images are there. I don’t want that to happen again.
So here’s what I want. I want to be able to use this blog just like Posterous. I want to be able to post a photo or text via email and/or a Web and iPhone app and tell it where I want it to go: blog, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or some combination of the above.
I want to be able to tag the post and decide what category it goes in.
If it’s a photo, I want it to come in full size in Facebook, because I’ve noticed that people don’t comment so much on the smaller photos.
If it’s text, I want it to come into Facebook and look the same way a status update does, because I’ve noticed I get far fewer Facebook comments on my Networked Blogs posts than on a status update or Facebook note. I think as Facebook traffic builds, people are less likely to click on something that takes them out of their stream and away from Facebook.
All of these services have “post here and have it go somewhere else” features or plug-ins. You can post to Flickr and have it post automatically to Twitter. You can post to a WordPress blog and have it automatically tweeted. You can pull your tweets in as your status updates.
I think what I need to do is sit down and map out all the content I share and where I’d like it to go, and see what paths are available. My, doesn’t that sound like fun? Of course, if someone out there has this all figured out, let me know.
I’ve mentioned before that The Mrs thinks I should consider medication to deal with my Shiny Object Syndrome and my obsession with the tools and techniques of sharing my various types of information online. She might be right. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming, then sometimes I think, “Hey, this is my hobby.” Relentless tinkering with one’s blog isn’t any more or less obsessive than building a ship in a bottle, is it?
A few weeks ago I decided to buy the Thesis blog theme (apparently it’s actually a framework, but if you know what that means you probably already knew that). I liked the customization, but it felt a little like overkill because I had every intention of going with a spare, clean, minimal theme like Jeff’s blog. All of the blog designs I’ve bookmarked in the last six months have been a lot like that.
This blog was, too. For about a day. Then I started messing with it. I’ve spent many a late-night hour in the past week, and all my non-dad-or-husband time this weekend, when I shot the photo for the header, designed the header, added the shiny metal background and figured out how to add the icons in the right column. If you had looked at the blog Friday and then again today, it would be a much different beast.
I’m pretty happy with it now and I don’t feel I’ve gone overboard on anything. But who knows. I still feel that instant pang of longing when I see a plain black-and-white theme with no adornment.
As I said in a comment on Jeff’s blog, Itâ€™s the same principle that makes me want to shave my head whenever I realize I need a haircut.
Just got a new iPhone app called BlogPress that allows you not only to post to a blog and upload photos, but also attach and embed video. The photos and videos are embedded in the blog and sent to your preferred hosting service (Flickr, YouTube).
I like that idea, because I’m getting more and more worried about having my content spread to the four corners of the Web. The whole point of reinvigorating this blog was to have a central hub that I controlled, where all the content resided.
This is really just a test post that got out of hand.