The Glory of Unconventional Blog Posts
INT. ROUNDPEG – FRIDAY AFTERNOON
ALLISON sits at her computer. She stares at the ceiling, obviously deep in thought. She slams her hands on her desk and turns to her COWORKER.
ALLISON: Jenna. What should I write my blog post about?
The graphic designer sits at her own desk, trying to finish up her work before the weekend. A large, smelly black CAT is draped over her arm. She doesn’t even glance at ALLISON before responding.
JENNA: How funny I am.
ALLISON: I’m not writing about that.
JENNA: Okay, how smart I am.
ALLISON: We go through this every week. It’s not happening.
JENNA finally turns to face ALLISON.
JENNA: Okay. Write a Choose Your Own Adventure blog post.
ALLISON (thoughtfully): You know, I think I could make that work.
MONTAGE. The same scene plays out again and again. ALLISON and JENNA wear different outfits; the weather outside the windows changes, but their conversation is always the same. JENNA’s answers include: “Write your blog post as fiction.” “Write a horoscope.” Sometimes ALLISON eyes JENNA skeptically, but sometimes she immediately starts to type.
I write a lot of words every week. Most of them are for other people; they go out without my name ever being mentioned. That’s how my job works. But once or twice a week, I’m tasked with writing something with my own byline here on the Roundpeg blog. For a while, that got to be a slog. When I got around to writing the posts, I was creatively drained and just wanted to slap some words on the page. The result? Blogs that I was fine with, our readers were fine with, but that none of us really were inspired by. It was a rut.
But then one day I listened to Jenna’s crazy advice and figured out a way (with Peter’s technical assistance) to make a Choose Your Own Adventure-style blog post. Then the horoscope post. And for the first time in the longest time, I was having fun writing about marketing. Changing the format of how I was writing, the bones of how the post was constructed, was oddly freeing. Experimenting with different styles and voices allowed me to take fresh spins on topics I’d covered a thousand times. And the result? More traffic, more social shares and even my mom telling me how much she was enjoying my blogs these days. Score.
Now, not every blog post is going to be a creative masterpiece. Sometimes, the work just has to get done. That’s what a professional does: they write when they aren’t inspired, they write because it’s a passion, sure, but it’s also a job. But every now and then, experiment with a style, technique or format that’s completely different from what you normally use in your blog. Do a video! Do a podcast! Use an interview format or write a one-act play. Even if you don’t like the result enough to publish it, that might lead to another innovative idea. And another. And before long, you might find that your old rut is long gone.
Ditch that “5 ways to be more awesome” and “what ‘Game of Thrones’ can teach you about murdering your enemies” format. You are capable of more.
Editor’s note: I started blogging in 2008. At first they were short snippets, less than 200 words long. Then they got longer, and a lot more interesting. But somewhere in 2013, Allison and I noticed that lots of our blogs were falling into a rut. We found ourselves following a simple formula to churn out 500 words, just so we could have something to post. That’s when she began experimenting with different style posts.
The result were some really creative pieces of content. Blogging was fun again, but the years go by and we have slipped into the same bad habits, so I thought it was time to revisit this post. Reread her ideas, and maybe get my creative juices flowing. I hope it does the same for you!
Looking for more blogging inspiration? Check out my conversation with Michael Steltzer of Social Media Examiner as we talk about how to fuel your blog posts