Four Things You Must Do to Make Your Blog Excellent

Part of the Kenno's Blog series.
By Ken Brown
Editor, You Can Learn Series
November 28, 2007

I will be honest with you. I stole this concept from an Extreme programming book. The book is Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change by Kent Beck. In the original book he talks about things XP programmers do: coding, testing, listening and designing. This article has taken the original concept and applied it to blogging. If you follow these four concepts then you will become an excellent blogger.

As you sit in front of your favorite computer each day to put words onto the internet, make these steps a lifelong habit. Blogging is more than just spitting out words onto a computer screen. You need to communicate ideas that are important to you. You cannot just sit in your ivory tower issuing orders from on high. You need to be concise in your writing, you need to be simple. Have you ever been to a blog and then left after the first two paragraphs because you just didn't get it? You need to have courage in your writing. Courage to write what you feel and not be threatened by people who disagree with you. Courage to step out of your comfort zone and really write the truth as you know it.

Here are the four major things you must do to make your blog excellent.

Blog - You blog because if you don't blog, you haven't done anything. If you didn't blog then nothing happened.

When you wake each morning your first thought should begin to consume you. What will I write about today? What will interest my readers? What major thing happened in my life that my readers must know about? What did I read yesterday or today that I disagree with? What did I read that would truly benefit my blog visitors? What can I add to the article that would enhance it?

If you write a blog then you are expected to blog on a regular basis. If you don't write then you haven't done anything. You haven't informed anyone. You haven't challenged anyone. You have not made an impact on the world, today.

That is such an important word, today. It is soooo easy to sit at the computer and just say, "I can't think of anything to write about today." And your keyboard is silent. You need to crave the little tap, tap, tap of your computer's keys as you type. You need to want to share your knowledge with humanity. You need to do it today.

Nobody has the experience you have. No one has your unique voice. No other human being has the history and intelligence you have. When you speak through your blog you are writing words in a way that no other human has done before. Your blog is unique. Even if you agree with someone about an issue, you still will take a slightly different slant than the other person. You see it from a different perspective. You can add metaphors and stories from your life experience that no one else can share.

Listen - You listen because if you don't listen, you don't know what to blog

Where do you go to get writing ideas? You need to listen. Who do you listen to? This will actually be different for every blogger. You listen to TV, to the radio, to articles in the newspapers, to experts in your field of interest, to other bloggers, to articles on the web, to websites you stumble upon and to your neighbor.

What do you write about? Is it about sewing and you need to listen to other people that sew? Do you write about world events? Should you be listening to the BBC or news from India or news from the United Nations? Do you write about the internet? What is the latest tech gadget or newest social media or some other new idea that is causing a stir in the world wide web? If your interest is in the internet you need to listen to many different voices. If you only have one source of information your blog will not be as strong as if you had five, ten or twenty different sources. The more sources you listen to the better your writing.

When do you listen? As soon as you wake up. Your one year old baby may give you more inspiration for articles than the CEO of your company. You wake up and you listen to your children, especially in the 8 to 14 year old range. This range of child seems to have the most exciting things happening to them. Let's face it, your high schoolers probably don't even talk to you, so it's hard to listen to them. But, when you walk out the door you listen to the guy at the gas station when you purchase your lotto tickets. You listen to your barber. You listen to people at the check out line at the store. You listen to the person in the cubes at work around you. You listen at lunch. Are you seeing a pattern here? You listen to your spouse at dinner time and then the next morning you start all over again.

Why do you listen? An informed blogger will be a better blogger. If you have multiple sources for an article the daily blog is easy to write. You won't dread it. You won't find excuses. You will wake up with an enthusiasm to write today!

Feedback - If you don't get feedback you haven't grown and your blog is stagnant

You need some kind of feedback mechanism on your blog. If you don't have one then find a way to put one on your site. It will require more work on your part, but it is well worth the effort. I just implemented a commenting section on the blog portion of my web pages. If that works out I may implement it on other areas of the web site.

Why do I insist you get feedback? Because, you will grow as a person and more importantly as a blogger with feedback. When we start blogging we are like little children. We do some things right and we do some things wrong. Then when we get feedback we can begin to change. Or maybe more importantly we can stand firm in our beliefs and can change others. But, if you are not getting feedback, how do you know what your audience is thinking?

Without feedback you are writing in a vacuum. You are just putting words on paper. (ok on a virtual screen.) You will be more interesting as a person and blogger if you have to back up your comments. What do you do when someone tells you that you are wrong? Do you back down and don't write for a few days or do you get more feedback, listen a little more and then challenge that person with more information? Your blog will actually become more dynamic. Many people commenting and adding to your original article.

I am one of those people that will read the article and then will read the comments. I love the comments people leave. Some of your readers will have more or varied experiences from your own. How did they handle that specific problem that you tried to deal with? What was their solution? Where did they go to resolve the situation or to get more information? Who else did they discuss the issue with? What were their reactions? Feedback creates a community not just a blog. You will get readers coming back again and again expressing their opinions and supporting your beliefs and even, Oh My Goodness, disagreeing with you.

Welcome feedback. It makes you stronger and makes your blog more interesting and exciting.

Think - Because if you don't think, then your blog is not worth reading.

Sometimes it is so easy to come up with an article. Especially when you have read another blogger and disagree with them. But, other times I challenge you to read an article and to try to answer these questions.

How did this article make me feel? What did the writer leave out? Why didn't the blogger go further? What other directions can make this article more exciting? Who might be affected by this article and what are their opinions about the situation? Where else can you get more information about this subject?

Once you ask the questions then sit down and try to answer them. Not with one answer or comment. But, with 20 answers for each question. The first 3 to 5 answers are easy. The next 5 to 10 answers will challenge you. But, when you reach for numbers 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20, then you have fodder for a great blog article yourself. Now all of a sudden you have thought about the views of the people that support your opinion, you have pondered the other side of the argument and you might even have wondered about the poor people that don't have an opinion on the subject. Why don't they care about this issue? What can you do to help motivate them to have an opinion?

Thinking is really very difficult. Any good actor can memorize lines and repeat them. We can all admonish our children using the same lines our parents used on us. But, can you think? Can you open the box, jump up to the top, hold on tight and peer outside? What do you see? Is it different than what you thought it would be? Is there more color? More darkness? Is it a positive place to be or do you just want to drop back down inside the box?

You can't get a feel for these other thoughts just reacting to comments. You have to sit quietly and think. Don't watch tv while you are doing this process. Just sit and think. Take notes to keep your focus. Your blog will never be the same again and the traffic to your site will be amazing.

You blog, listen, get feedback and think, then you can blog all over again.

Wow, you read this article this far and you are ready to blog again. But, don't do this process just once. Do it everyday or at least every blogging day. This needs to become a habit or continuous cycle for you. Follow the cycle once doesn't get you very far. But, if you cycle everyday you grow, you get stronger and low and behold people begin to follow you.

Print this out and follow it everyday.
  • Blog - You blog because if you don't blog, you haven't done anything. If you didn't blog then nothing happened.
  • Listen - You listen because if you don't listen, you don't know what to blog
  • Feedback - If you don't get feedback you haven't grown and your blog is stagnant
  • Think - Because if you don't think then your blog is not worth reading.
  • You blog, listen, get feedback and think, then you can blog all over again.
I truly hope this inspires you and helps you to grow. Let me know what you think. I would love to hear your comments.

Success is Achieved by doing the fundamentals - Are you happy with the results. Did we get the number of visitors we wished for? Did our visitors click on revenue producing links and ads? Were our page views up for the year or down? Did users visit more than one page? Did they make it to the order form and then abandon or did they continue and purchase our products?

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