For some reason I thought I’d written a post like this years ago, but the closest I could find was the first post I wrote in a blogging series I put together at the time, back in the days before people started adding images to their posts (which now has one) or even thought about things like copyright (now it’s copywritten) or share buttons. Because that’s the closest I have, and because I want to be helpful, I figure it’s time I put something like this together.
what could you write about this shoe?
With nearly 1,800 articles on this blog and over 5,000 via all my blogs, blogs of others and a host of other things online, I’ve had to rely on my wits to come up with unique ideas all the time on a variety of topics. I’ve rarely had writer’s block (sometimes I’m just not in the mood to write; it happens), and that’s because of the 9 things I’m talking about below. Continue reading →
This is a different type of post. I may link to other posts and articles to share what they have to say but overall this is my thoughts and beliefs about the current state of blogging. It’s not a rant… well, not really anyway. It’s more of a manifest statement, a stream of unconsciousness that’s either true or not for everyone else… but definitely true from where I’m sitting.
First, let’s talk about why I think I’m qualified to write about such a thing. By some standards I can’t even call myself a professional blogger. I don’t write from the perspective of someone who’s made a lot of money from blogging. I certainly haven’t worked on making blogging a career. Continue reading →
This is something a little bit different, so it deserves a bit of explanation.
Last week my buddy Holly Jahangiri shared a link on Twitter going to an article titled 6 Ways to Get Creative with Writing Your Blog Content. One of the writer’s recommendations was to Spend a Few Moments Coloring, which I thought was a ridiculous idea. Holly issued a challenge where she’s going to write about doing it as a positive thing whereas I’m going to write about it as being… well, hogwash! 🙂
look closely at the picture
To begin with, I understand the writer’s motivation, at least for a few of the points in the article. The belief is that a disruption in what you’d normally do will help you be a more creative writer because you’re moving outside of your comfort zone. In this case, coloring is one of the ideas; exercising is another idea of something to do beforehand. In other words, doing things that have nothing to do with writing will help you become more creative is what the writer’s saying.
Being someone who’s taken a shot at what I’ll call extreme exercising, along with not actually coloring anything in probably 40 years or so, I’m thinking that there are a lot more ways to find enough ideas to be creative. I mean, once I wrote about changing the colors on one’s blog as a way to shake things up or to stand out from the norm. Have you noticed that the links in my blog post are a different color than what most people have, and when I want to make something bold is shows up in a nice looking dark blue?
If I was going to offer something extraneous that might help you get into a creative mode for writing, I might suggest playing piano. I played for 29 years, but over the course of the last 19 I was always writing something, whether it was music or a lot of stories and books I started and eventually stopped. What would happen is that I’d first get into the music I was playing, and then I’d start improvising, and eventually I’d start getting ideas for either songs, lyrics or stories. This was way before the days of blogging but I believe if I needed it for creativity I’d probably still be playing.
Let’s get back to creativity and ideas for writing blog posts and articles. I’ve written a number of articles on this blog addressing creativity, which started back in 200 with the 2nd step in my book writing series where I talked about outlines and journals. I don’t journal as much anymore but whenever I’m going to write a major piece like when I wrote about 30 mistakes people make with their blogs, I always start with an outline. Think about it; how many of us would be able to sit down and start writing knowing we actually wanted 30 points of anything? 🙂
I’ve talked about the art of storytelling as a way to be creative. I read so many articles that feel like dissertations instead of conversations. I’ve never met a single person who didn’t have a story to tell, whether it was true or not. I’ve written quite a few stories on this blog, true adventures I’ve had, while Holly has shared a lot of fictional stories on her blog showing off her creativity. I even mentioned Holly in a post about concepts of writing (which she probably never saw lol).
In that post, I talked about creativity on things outside of writing. For instance, there’s a video on there which became the first viral wedding video from YouTube that was very creative, that most of you will probably remember.
Creativity doesn’t have to be complicated. You can take something relatively small and turn it into something big… while still making it small. For instance, I’ve written two very short posts on this blog giving 10 writing tips, short enough for most people to need less than 2 minutes to read yet 20 pretty good points if I say so myself.
Let me ask this question; do you think inspiration and creativity are at least similar concepts as it regards writing? If so, check out this link where I mentioned 10 things I was doing that gave me inspiration to write something (one of those talks about walking at the gym; that “might” count as exercise lol).
Do you read other blogs? Books? Magazines or newspapers (offline or on)? Do you watch TV or movies or videos? If so, wouldn’t you agree that a lot of inspiration can be found from sources like that, and that you can figure out different angles on what you’ve read or consumed?
Maybe you’re a niche blogger looking for a creative way to write about your topic. Instead of pulling out a coloring book and figuring out what color you want Donald Duck’s beak to be, why not find inspiration and creativity while trying to learn something, whether you agree with it or not? Some of the most creative things I’ve read are the result of someone taking a counterpoint against the article they read.
I might be tooting my own horn a bit, but it’s not my intention. My intention is to say that I believe that doing things that usually take your mind off what you’re hoping to write about isn’t as conducive to being creative as many of the things I mentioned here might be. Even though I mentioned that in one of my articles I was walking and came up with an idea, truth be told whenever that happens I usually have a nugget of something I want to write about but need time to bring it to fruition in my mind. I’m trying to imagine having a nugget of something in my mind and starting to color, and having it format properly while I’m trying to stay inside the lines. lol
I think that’s enough to support my side in this little debate. This line will change once I have Holly’s link (which I now have: Coloring Creativity into Blogging so you can see what she wrote and then chime in with agreement or disagreement or opinion. We’re having some fun with this particular item in the initial link I shared, but in the end I’m missing the coloring idea… if you agree with it please help me understand. 🙂
By now, anyone who’s visited any of my blogs knows that I love the concept of blogging. Just as I was telling a group of life and business coaches a couple of weeks ago, when I gave an online seminar about business blogging, there are a lot of benefits to the process, some of which people just don’t think about. I figured that this would be a nice change to some of the articles I’ve written this month; we all can use a little motivation and consulting.
1. You get to show your expertise.
pizza grilled cheese; I made this!
This is always my number one statement whenever I talk about business blogging. No one knows your business or what you can do better than you. The hope is that you’re not a one trick pony who only knows one aspect of what your business all about. Blogging on a consistent basis helps to show people that you’re someone who can definitely help them.
2. You control your message.
One of the major gripes of people who get interviewed by the media is that they spend upwards of an hour or two talking to someone, only to have someone take a few soundbites of something they said and twist it around so that they feel like total idiots having to defend a statement that’s been quoted out of context.
With a business or personal blog, you get to control your message. Not only that, but if someone misinterprets something you wrote, you’re the one who gets to go back in and make it better. This is one of the few times where, unless you’re a big time celebrity, you get to change what’s on the internet to a degree. Even if the Database Archive happened to pick up what you said the first time around, it’s unlikely to ever rear its ugly head if you keep adding more content to your blog.
3. You can get things off your mind.
Writing is cathartic; I didn’t make that up. I find that when my mind feels cluttered and I’m not sure what else to do, writing helps me get back into the groove of things.
This isn’t the only reason one might have to get things off their minds. For instance, an issue might come up (Trump) that irks you so much (Trump) that you feel the need to say something about it (Trump) because it keeps making you mad whenever the topic comes up (Trump). Every once in a while on this blog I’ve talked about racism, freedom of speech, inequality, bullies, and health care (which I would since I’m a health care consultant, all topics that aren’t the norm on this blog… or my other blogs.
At least I’ve never talked about politics (Trump); we all have to have standards, right?
4. You can show your creativity.
How many people remember when the term “think outside of the box” was prevalent, so much so that we got tired of it so some guy we all want to slap changed it to “change the paradigm”?
Truth be told, knowing how to help people with their problems isn’t always as straight forward as it might seem to be. For all the years of knowledge I like to think I have in health care, every once in a while I get thrown for a loop when someone mentions a certain problem that have that, upon reflection, doesn’t quite fit the parameters of your knowledge. I’ve had to come up with some truly creative ways to figure out what the actual problems are and then get more creative to apply a fix.
The same goes for blogging. When you can show people you have he mind to be creative when it comes to subjects you write and talk about, it helps intrigue people who might be interested in your services.
5. The longer you do it, the more social cache you build up.
Most of you won’t know what this is, but for my main career I’m a charge master consultant. I just looked up the term “charge master consulting” on both Google and Bing; you know what I found? On Google I’m in the top 3 spots; on Bing I’m at #1 and #5. Yes, I have content on my main website that talks up this type of consulting, but what’s helped me stay at least in the top 5 over all these years (that site was built in 2003) is that I’ve also written about it multiple times on my blog (which I started in 2005). Having 11 years worth of posts talking about something specific and technical like that has helped my site stay prominent, and it can do the same thing for you.
6. Did I mention SEO yet?
Indirectly I did with #5, but let me go a bit further with it. You know how I said that Google has me in the first 3 spots? It also shows my site in 4th, 6th and 9th being mentioned by other sites who’ve linked to me. I’m actually pretty prominent in the top 20; that’s the power of SEO and the right keywords for whatever industry you’re a part of.
7. Give people something to share with others.
One of the best things about social media is that people love to share the content of others. Not only can you market yourself on social media but if people like you or what you write they’ll help you do it at no cost to you. Every day someone new becomes an underground superstar and it’s probably based on either a blog post or a video, maybe even a blog post you’ve put a video on.
8. Personality; believe it or not you have one.
Almost every study that’s been done says that people want to work with someone they feel comfortable with. When you write a lot, you’ll find that you’ll find your writing “voice”, which tends to allow people to see what your personality is like. If you’re engaging then people will want to read your posts to not only learn about your topic but about you as well. The thing about blogging is that it’s not a one-and-done proposition. Regular content is necessary to make it work for you, and the more you write, the most benefit you get out of it.
9. Blogging is the least expensive way to market.
If you hadn’t figured this one out yet, I’m here to tell you that the only real costs to blogging, if you don’t want to pay for it, is time. Although I’d recommend that you pay for hosting or add it as a subdomain to your current website, there are lots of free blogging platforms that will let you get your mind into the of blogging to see if you can actually do it. It’s content that can live forever, you can modify it whenever you want, you can interlink old articles or some of your webpages to current blog posts (which I’ve done prominently here so you can see how it works) and it’s totally in your control.
After 8 months of working out of town, my wife finally showed up Friday night, driving over 3 days from Arkansas back to New York. I helped her bring lots of stuff into the house, as she has no concept of light packing.
One of the things she brought home from the road was a 32″ flat screen HD TV, which I convinced her to let me set up in the living room with the caveat that I’d donate the Sony blu-ray DVD player I bought while I was on the road. She’d agreed, so we set out to put it into our entertainment center, which was more of a project than you can imagine.
See, the TV we were taking out was also a Sony, a monster of a TV that was probably the best TV we had in the house at one time. It was a traditional 32″ but you know how Sony is when it comes to their TVs. It’s easily 5 inches longer than any other TV we still have in the house and heaps heavier. This meant that moving the entertainment center away from the wall so that we could move the TV out was going to be a major chore.
It took about 25 minutes to take a lot of the stuff off the entertainment center, unplug a few things and unhook wires, wedge a couple of things underneath it so we could move it easier than without those things, and finally get it moved. Then both of us wiggled the TV out of the entertainment center, got it to the floor unscathed, and pushed it on the rug to a location where it would be out of our way.
Before I could put the other TV, she says to me “I think we should move the living room furniture around.”
I said “Aren’t you tired after driving 7 hours?”
She said “Since I have to clean around everything anyway, let’s just move some things around to see if we can make it better.”
So we did. Even I came up with a couple of ideas of where we could move some of the stuff we had and 2 1/2 hours later we were finally finished moving, cleaning, and my setting the TV back up. We’ve had our house 16 years and this is the 4th time we’ve rearranged things, and I have to admit that every time we’ve made a change it’s improved our space.
Even though I have a problem in relating it to redesigning my blogs and my websites, I can easily relate it to my process of blogging over all these years. When I first started blogging back in 2005, I really wasn’t sure how I was supposed to write, let alone really know what to write about.
Some of my earliest posts on my business blog consisted of a couple of paragraphs; every once in a while it was just one paragraph, often linking to an article or a video somewhere else; this was in the days before embedding videos. For the longer ones, I hadn’t figured out spacing or a true storytelling style. I also hadn’t figured out how to write posts that could teach anything or explain things all that well.
It carried over to this blog when I started it. I was all over the place, which I didn’t mind as much as the fact that even then I still hadn’t really developed a style of writing. I also never really considered myself as being all that creative since I talked a lot about the happenings of the day. Considering that I wrote over 900 articles in the first 3 years, that’s saying something.
You know when I finally started to realize that maybe my writing was turning the corner and that I was getting more creative? It was post #924, titled 5 Things Bloggers Can Learn From Poker, when I finally wrote a post in what I consider a true story form and related each point to the process of blogging. It then made me take a look back at my business blog and I realized that just a few days earlier I had written a post there where I told a story and related it to a leadership issue, that being empathy.
It was at that point I knew that I had finally turned a corner; I had learned how to be a creative writer, not a boring writer like what I often see on a lot of blogs that I may visit only once and never return to. I don’t even mean those blogs where you might see a post every 3 months or so, or a blog that only has a few posts and the owner never writes another word.
Do you know why in general I dislike guest posts on blogs? Because the writing is usually fairly stilted and boring. They are sometimes pretty accurate, but at other times they’re pretty much a rehash of something you could find on a thousand other blogs, along the lines of what I talked about in my post about misleading titles and bad blog content. That’s one reason why, if I ask someone to write a guest post (the only way guest posts show up on this blog), I know they’re going to deliver something special, like my friend Kelvin Ringold did when he wrote this post on positivity.
I’m not going to lie; being creative, truly creative, isn’t easy. I can pretty much write whenever I want to. When I used to write music, I could write a new song in less than 30 minutes, with lyrics in probably an hour.
For the last 6 years I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with one of my websites, and for the last 5 months I’ve been trying to figure out how I want my business website to look. Some have said I should hire someone else to do it for me but I already don’t think I’d like it; isn’t that a shame? I don’t have a vision of what I want either of them to look like, and I don’t have a true vision of what I want the one website, my Services and Stuff site, to even be about, since what I’d originally planned for it has never worked.
Thus, my creativity is limited to blogging and writing; maybe music if I ever decide to play piano again. So, along the vein of trying to help you figure out ways to be creative, to do something different on your blog as it relates to creativity, here are some tips you might try.
1. Try visualizing what you want to talk about as a story.
I know you have at least one adventure a day, whether it’s big or small. You saw the story I told to being this post. Well, that was only a few hours out of a day of stories, yet it was the best story I had to relate to this topic. It’s okay to integrate a personal story to help highlight what you want to talk about. Take a look at this post on personal empowerment by Dana Gore. She tells a personal tale that leads you to what she does to help get her perspective back in order so she can push forward when she needs a boost.
2. Write like you talk.
When I had a few people read portions of my last book, I wanted them to look at the content and tell me if I was getting my points across better because I’d had to rewrite most of the early content of the book. Instead, most of them wanted me to change my grammar, saying it wasn’t proper for a book.
I ignored all advice relating to that because in my mind I was writing the book in my own vernacular, with my own rhythm and cadence. I did clean up some things here and there because I tend to use certain words in my normal pattern of speech that are pretty passive and I knew that wouldn’t work as well in the book. For that matter, I’ve tried to change it up on the blog as well.
Outside of that, I write pretty much the same way that I talk. Sometimes I use big words; sometimes I use slang. I don’t cuss so you’ll never have to worry about seeing that here. I’d like to think a good example of my pattern of speech was when I talked about my plan to make repairs on my house but the ladder came up missing. Truthfully, that’s pure “me”, if I say so myself.
3. Don’t be afraid to star in your own story, even if you’re the set-up person.
There’s a lot of things I do right and things I do well. There’s also a lot of things I’m bad at. Finally, there are times when I’m a visual participant and not actually a part of the story, even if I was there.
When you’re looking to be creative, nothing says that you have to win every step of the way. Nothing even says you have to even be in the story; observation isn’t such a bad thing. I wrote a post years ago where I told the tale of someone I knew who lost a lot of business because of bad blogging behavior. I was only a minor part of the story because I was first the observer, then the guy who went looking for an answer to a minor mystery. It led to a great point about making sure you’re not doing things with your blog that could cost you money, prestige and friends.
That should be enough to get you started. Let me know your thoughts and successes if you decide to give it a shot.