Tuesday, July 7, 2009...7:00 am

The five pillars of blog longevity, part 2

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Part 1;   Part 2;   Part 3;   Part 4;   Part 5
Yesterday’s tip for blogging longevity was all about strategy. Today’s is more about content.
2) Have a focus
This is all about what the blog is creatively, rather than strategically.
You can blog about anything, obviously, but it helps to have a focus creatively. However, this means a bit more than simply the subject matter.
If you’re interested in movies, say, you’ll be wanting to write a film blog. But what will its actual focus be? Who is it trying to reach – and what is it offering them?
Are you simply going to review and recommend films? Or will you focus on a genre? Maybe you want to concentrate on a discipline, such as special effects. Or a period – like the 1970s.
And what will the content offer? Advice on how to get into the business? Showbiz gossip? (Loads of people do this, remember – it’s difficult to stand out.) Insight into how movies are made?
Who are you writing for?
Implicit in this is your audience. A clear focus will help you figure out who your potential audience is, and therefore help you figure out what it is you’re trying to say.
Sure, you can be as general as you like – but concentrating on a specific niche can be helpful for a number of reasons.

  • Credibility: You can build a reputation as something of an expert
  • Audience: You can carve out an area that few other bloggers cover – which helps give people a reason to visit
  • Focus: You have more of an idea about what kinds of things to post about

This last one is important for longevity, because it’s a big help with blogger’s block. Having a clear niche can keep you on track and help you develop a longer-term editorial plan for your blog.
This is a blog largely about journalism, for example. But more specifically, it is about the impact of digital media on journalism and publishing, and also on journalism teaching.
Plan ahead
As the focus of Freelance Unbound has become clearer, I’ve been able to plan ahead more with ideas for longer posts, like this one, while at the same time using the blog to react to news.
The downside is if your focus is quite narrow it can become a bit constricting. That’s why I gave myself room at the start to talk about stopframe animation too, as this is an interest of mine and I thought I might need the variety. But I try to link the pieces together where possible – posting about teaching animation workshops for example.
Let it grow
And don’t be afraid to let your blog evolve. As time has moved on, I’ve decided that one function of the blog will be as a resource for journalism students.
All my workshop notes will be posted on here, and some of the posts will be aimed specifically at students. They may not read them at the time – but having the posts available means I can link back to them in class notes.
One important side effect is that this gives me extra motivation to put material up here, as it will help me in preparing classroom work in future.
But motivation and focus aside, it’s still a bit of a marathon to keep posting. Which is why tomorrow we’ll look at how to pace yourself for the long haul…
Part 1;   Part 2;   Part 3;   Part 4;   Part 5

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