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!