Recently, a blogger who shall remain nameless e-mailed me about their difficulties in coming up with topics to post about. Naturally, this hit me right when I was having similar challenges, but the mere question got me thinking about it. I started writing my answer, but soon realized I could make it do “double duty” and post it here, too.
But I’m not so vain that I think everyone is just dying to hear my thoughts about blogging — hell, I don’t even have my own blog. So I’m stuffing the excerpt from my e-mail below the fold.
Update: it turns out said blogger wasn’t wondering about topics, but how to actually have an effect. Oh, well… I’m still gonna toss this up because I’m too lazy to let it go to waste.
…I’m not sure why you singled out ME for advice on blogging, especially in light of the facts that 1) I don’t even have a blog of my own and 2) I’ve been in a bit of a slump for the last couple of days, but if you’re so desperate for advice that you’ll listen to ME, the least I can do is answer sincerely.
You wondered about finding content for your own blog. That’s probably the biggest obstacle I’ve found, and here are a few things I do to get around that block.
1) Listen to stand-up comics. Not so much for actual material, but for their style. Standups make their living off several things useful in blogging, such as finding a universality in common problems,
interacting with their audiences, reacting quickly to changing events, and finding connections between seemingly disparate ideas and events.
2) Listen to the news. Blogging is a very time-sensitive vocation, and the news is a great source for subject matter. Whatever gets your interest in the paper, on the radio, on TV, or online could very well be worth writing about.
3) Listen to the world. Simply seeing and hearing what goes on around you can give you ideas for posting. Twice I’ve simply reported on cute license plates, and sparked big discussions that went far beyond the initial seven letters on those plates.
4) Listen to the people you talk to. Not only will that give you insights into what others think is interesting and important, but they might say something specific that you might want to either respond to or outright steal for your blog.
5) Listen to yourself. Several times I’ve caught myself saying something in casual conversation that forced me to stop myself and write it down for future use in a posting. Yeah, occasionally it’s
sucked, but more often than not it’s worked out well.
6) Listen. People talk about what they find interesting. If something is being discussed, it is intrinsically interesting to someone. If you find it interesting, there’s a good chance others will, too.
7) When all else fails, BOOBIES!
Of course, what good is a list without two bad examples of things to avoid? The first is a local talk show host here in Manchester. He used to be the biggest sportscaster in the state, but threw a hissy
fit and quit in a fit of pique. Now he’s doing the morning show on a radio station, and it quite frankly stinks. But I haven’t bothered to write about it because who the hell would care about a local talk show host whose show sounds like he’s been sentenced to community service?
The second involves my obsession with naval warfare. The British have a huge gift for fantastic names for their warships. Warspite, Repulse, Renown, Revenge, Invincible (which blew up with no survivors, but that’s another story), Warrior, Inflexible, Indomitable, Illustrious, Vengeance, Victorious, Audacious, Conqueror, Thunderer… but again, the general audience would yawn and move on.
And, naturally, as soon as I start writing this, I think I found angles to use both ideas. Sigh…
I’ve often said that one of my main purposes in life was to serve as a bad example to others, and now I’m even screwing that up…