The Long Middle Road: Establishing Yourself in Blogging

Referring to the British victory over the German Afrika Korps at the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt
Referring to the British victory over the German Afrika Korps at the Second Battle of El Alamein in Egypt

Winston Churchill’s quote from WWII is appropriate for this post. He warned the British people and the troops not to fall into false hope of believing the war was over (or at it’s end.) Very few leaders have the same clarity in vision. Even fewer have the confidence to tell their people the truth. In the hope of making Churchill’s words relevant again, I use them here. Once you set up a blog or a site, start a social media group (i.e. a page on Facebook), or even start participating in a social media network, the work is only at it’s beginning. You essentially proved yourself to be a novice. The British people were told: you have just began the fight, the “middle” part is now beginning. The middle part is sometimes the hardest one. This is were simple daily effort has to be put in. In this phase, the methods you read about are really put into action. The skills you need, from clear idea development to succinct writing, from good social skills to effective marketing and promotion become crucial. Here is where your personality and commitment become words on the screen. No matter how much you know, what plans you have made, and how many tricks you can pull. In war time equivalent of Winston Churchill’s world, this is the battle. Here you face the empty page every morning. Here you have to swallow your pride and answer critical comments, even downright put-downs, with class (and a smile). Here you need to put in hours reading social media pages and blogs to find place to promote your writing.

What Is Creating Original Content?

The short (sarcastic) answer is: writing articles and photographic cute cats and flowers. The real answer is continuous creation of material that fits a certain line of thought, has a common style, and overall keeps readers interested (and coming back.) If you think this is easy, than you are either very good, or have not done it long enough. Just to put things into perspective. Most American newspapers publish a page of cartoons every day. Most newspapers carry about ten strips, maybe twenty on Sundays. With all the cartoonists around, you would think there would be hundreds of them with every kind of theme imaginable. Yet very few creative cartoonists draw for a long period of time. Creating content, even technical or business based, over a long period of time takes effort. Besides basic skills, you also need a creative side. This brings back the point of developing methods to keep content flowing. Newspapers, magazines, radio, and television are good examples of  steady flow through a creation process. If you are going for a long term publishing goal, use some publishing methods and standardize the creative process. Newspapers and magazines use a well developed process from reporting, researching, editing, to final publication schedule. They have style guides and legal guides. Reporters specialize in dozens of areas of expertise. Some web publications are moving from the traditional newspaper publication to electronic format, they will keep most of their processes and standards. But the web gives such broad capability to publish new material, we are going to see many good publications, these will have strong writing and editing staff. In areas which have been difficult to show strong bottom line results (where advertising revenue is weak) like technical and business sectors, there is opportunity to be an early publisher. Showing up early to the market gives one an advantage.

Very few cartoonists are creative and interesting over a long period of time
Very few cartoonists are creative and interesting over a long period of time

In areas where there is plenty of material. From politics, finance (banking, investment, stock markets), technology, industrial sectors, and many others, the big challenge is finding material quickly, developing stories (through interviews or by re-writing), then editing and publishing in a usable format. Here there are a few good examples we will look at next. There are still many areas which are open to new publishing opportunities. The shift to web publishing in it’s many formats is monumental. Some experts compare this shift, a digital revolution, to Gutenberg’s rinting revolution in the 1400’s. From our perspective today, it is hard to tell what will be the future of communication with explosion of digital “newspapers” and “magazines”. The concept of commenting and essentially two way discussions between the writer and the reader is also a new idea. Maybe not exactly new, but much faster and maybe more useful to most. More on this aspect of blogging and content marketing in future posts.

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