So You Want to Blog? – Part IV: Content
I’m running out of ideas for our blogging series. So far we’ve covered getting started, layout and SEO. Today I’m taking a stab at the most important, but also the most personal part of blogging – your content.
A blog’s content is what makes it unique, and I’m certainly never going to tell someone what they should or shouldn’t blog about. That is your decision as a writer and content creator. I mean… think about all the different blogs you read on a daily basis. I can’t be Pia’s Parade and The $900 Facebook Pony can’t be Diary of a Horse Obsessed Girl and so on and so forth.
What I can do is outline some strategies that I use and offer some guidance to what has worked for me.
The Dreaded Editorial Calendar
If you work with blogging in any type of business sense, you likely have heard of an Editorial Calendar. It’s a fancy way of saying ‘when you plan to post things’. Now for work, I keep a detailed calender for post types and frequencies as well as when each will be posted. For SMTT, it’s not formal at all. I don’t have anything officially scheduled, but I do employ the following tactics.
- I try to post 40% general topics (DIY, Horse World, Etc)
- 10% “hot topics” or topics that create a discussion in the comments
- 40% “Simon” posts about him and us and our journey
- 10% non-horse life Lauren about what’s going on with me outside of the barn
Granted, that may change from week to week. If Simon and I are having some issues that need blogging about, I blog about them more. If Simon and I aren’t doing shit because there’s nothing but thunderstorms, general posts it is!
This formula is what works for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. A lot of bloggers write really detailed training posts that people love. Your blog may be 100% training, and that’s okay! I prefer a variety, but what your write is always up to you.
How much should I post?
I write Monday through Friday religiously, because in the past if I write “whenever” that tends to be a flurry of posts all at once and then radio silence for months. So keeping a daily post during the work week keeps me accountable.
Plus, the highest traffic I get is when my blog posts hit feedly and Facebook during work hours. Let’s face it – those with office jobs spend a lot of time perusing the internet. Therefore I try to have my post up by 10-11am central time, so readers have a lot of work hours available to read it. 🙂
Writing five posts a week is a tall order though, and I don’t recommend it unless you’re a naturally prolific person who enjoys writing that much. Though this is just a suggestion, I would start with two to three posts per week in your blog’s editorial calendar. It’s enough to keep readers engaged without being too overwhelming.
Images, Images, IMAGES!
Most of our equestrian blogs are about the words, because we’re sharing our journey with horses. However, you’re going to get the best results if you have at least one image with every post. Images are key because:
- They break up large blocks of text and allow readers to take a breather visually
- They give place marks for someone who may read your blog off and on during a long period of time… like me when I have a million meetings during a work day
- They provide visual stimulation to what you’re writing about
- They let your posts show up better in feed readers like Feedly, because it pulls an image from your content to show with your post excerpt
“But I just have 100 images of my horse in the cross ties and that’s way too boring to post!”
I would argue that 100 images of the same horse in the same set of cross ties is better than no images, but you also have other options. The photographer in me will never suggest someone just stroll to Google or Tumblr and steal images from others. People do that and I don’t boycott their blogs or anything, but it’s not legal and it’s not something I agree with personally. That being said, I’ve done that before in this blog and you’ll see a lot of Tumblr images in my archives from 2012-2013. Judge me as you will, I don’t do it anymore.
For my blog, I take a lot of pictures of horses and horse showing. That gives me an advantage when putting visual content in my posts, and you better believe a lot of the reason I take superfluous photos at shows is because of this blog! You don’t have to be a photographer to get legal images on your blog though. You can…
- Search Flickr Creative Commons for images that you can use with a link back and a photo credit (There are a TON of these images)
- Use a free stock photography site like freeimages.com to use for mood/filler photos that aren’t horse related
Also, if you’re ever writing about something specific… like Saddlebred show horses or Quarter Horse hunter/jumpers… you’re welcome to contact me about using my photos. I have quite a variety on flickr, and I just ask for a photo credit and a link back to my site. Easy peasy!
In the near future I’ll have the final post up on this series… getting blog traffic!
18 thoughts on “So You Want to Blog? – Part IV: Content”
Amen to pictures, especially if you’re an infrequent blogger. I remember horses’ faces quite well. People not so much. There is basically no downside to including pictures.
I am not an organized person, so the whole idea of an editorial calendar freaks me out a little. If it works for you, FANTASTIC, by all means do it, but don’t feel like you have to. I don’t make money blogging, so I just write what I feel like when I feel like it.
An editorial calendar certainly isn’t necessary, but it’s a tool that helps people on a schedule and have ideas for content ‘in the hopper’ which can be worthwhile.
Great tips, I would also encourage people to write with their own voice and style. UNIQUE content that really reflects a blogger’s personality and individual story is what keeps me coming back to my favorite blogs! Just do you. 🙂
Completely agree. Don’t try to force a square peg in a round hole because you think that’s what people want to read!
Great tips! I am guilty of the occasional text-only post because I’m dumb and forget to take pics of something (lesson, show, etc.). I should remember to post a random photo of Tucker in those posts though, for all the reasons you stated.
i love this series – and have gotten so many insights, thanks! blogging still feels like a kinda new thing to me, and is a trickier balance than i expected. i like getting a lot of page views – but the most popular posts are very rarely the posts i like the most, or that are the most meaningful to me haha.
You’re so much fancier than I am.
Thanks for this post. I’m glad to see that I’m already following a lot of what you wrote.
I’m of the mind that almost any picture is better than no picture, even if you’ve posted it before. You’ll see a lot of my horse’s ears and mane while I’m riding. There’s usually no one around to take photos. I will also recycle pictures, especially super cute ones or ones I really like. However, I do try to avoid that as much as possible.
Great post! I never thought about types of posts and % breakdown before.
This is a great series.
There is a topnotch parenting blog that I read which recycles the same images over and over again. When I see the image, I immediately know the topic of discussion. It really works as an organizational tool and nonliterary hook. Come to think of it, I know a horse blogger who does the same thing.
A photo with every post! Agree!
Another well written post! I can’t wait until the blog traffic post. Granted, I haven’t done much to get traffic to my blog except for share it with my friends and on Facebook, but I wold really like to get more people reading my blog.
Love this series. It’s so helpful.
Note to self: must remember to take pictures more often!
My experience tells me that Saturdays get the least traffic, so I generally skip posting then, unless there’s a compelling story.
I try to post five days a week but I don’t stress over missing a day here and there. I do notice that the more I post, the more traffic I get, so it’s an incentive to write more.
I am impressed you can do 5 a week! I used to do 5 and then and I cut down to 4 posts per week with the occasional 3 when things get too busy. I definitely agree with keeping things photo heavy and your own photos will get you even further.
I do 7 posts a week, but writing is what makes me good at my job. I TEACH writing so I damn well better be at least decent at doing it. :0
I try not to overwhelm my readers with the exact same kinds of posts day to day, but I don’t have a daily plan. Generally, I try to post in order of how stuff happens. If there are two or three days of “here’s what happened when I rode this week,” I try to throw in a review post or a post about something I’ve read.
It’s also much easier to post daily if you are writing about more than one horse. i ride at least ten times a week, and there are times when i ride 14 times a week or more. It’s easy to come up with material when you interact so intimately with two different horses. Throw in my barn owner’s horse and the neighbor’s horse, both of whom I also ride when time permits, and I have too many things about which to write. I love having that problem.
Thanks for sharing – I know many people are nervous about starting a blog because they think no one will read it. In your next tutorial, you might want to mention that the most important thing is that the blogger enjoy the writing process whether anyone else reads it or not. Blogging should bring you happiness, relief, clarity, catharsis, or something before it brings you readers. :0)
Thanks for sharing this “behind the scenes” info. I like your percentage breakdown of your blog content. That’s cool. Good point also about posting during business hours. 🙂
Your images really are wonderful. 🙂