Big Ideas, Delivered With Impact

2 Lessons Learned During the Blogathon

In Blogging, Writing on May 31, 2009 at 7:19 pm

By Tim Beyers

Today, the second annual May Blogathon ends. My first year of participating offers little to brag about: I posted just 15 times in 31 days.

Source: London Daily Mail

Source: London Daily Mail

To be fair, I never was going to be 31 for 31 as writers Michelle Rafter, Sarah Webb and Jackie Dishner were. I didn’t join the quest till May 4.

But I could have done better. I should have done better. Why? Because blogging is as much a business as it is a passion.

So, I’m setting two goals beginning in June. First, I plan to post here at least 15 times a month from now till the next Blogathon. Second, I plan to go 31 for 31 next year. I’ll use these two strategies — strategies that I ignored during Blogathon — to bring value to you, my readers.

Strategy No. 1: be a better editor

Too often during Blogathon, I didn’t behave like an editor. There was no editorial calendar for this blog. There was no sourcing plan. I didn’t give myself assignments as an editor might. Consequently, I fell well short of others who posted regularly during Blogathon.

Solution: Beginning tomorrow, I’ll publish a calendar of planned topics for this blog. In doing so, I hope to give you a content compass and encourage discourse. But mostly I’m doing this to break a cycle of hypocrisy: I’ve written that the best blogs are like great magazines in that they combine tips with planned features. Time for me to take my own advice.

Strategy No. 2: fully engage in conversations

I’ve a confession: Although I knew that taking a stand against writing for content aggregators would generate clicks, I didn’t expect that it would touch off a debate. But it did. Post after post, the conversation raged on, and I became less and less a part of the thread. Opportunity, missed.

Solution: Better editorial planning should help to address this problem in the future. So, too, should better scheduling. I’m now holding 4-10 am mountain as my daily writing time for The Motley Fool. Other hours are to be set aside for contributing to this blog, the Quicken blog and for querying for new work.

Those are my foibles. What lessons have you learned? Come share during tomorrow’s Blogathon wrap party on Twitter.

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  1. 4 to 10 a.m.? That my friend is hardy a foible. It takes discipline to get up that such an ungodly hour day after day and then fit a full day of writing on top of it. You’re being too hard on yourself.

    As for having a plan, yes, I went 31 for 31, and I had an editorial calendar. But did I stick to it? About 60 percent of the time. Sometimes topics take on a life of their own – like the content aggregator debate you referred to – and you have to go with the flow. It’s what a good metro editor would do on a breaking story, it’s just good journalism. So map out a editorial calendar, and even broadcast bits and pieces of it. But keep it on the QT to give yourself the option of changing your mind. You can always compromise by having a couple standing features that readers can rely on week in and week out.

    See you in ’10.

    Michelle Rafter

  2. P.S. Speaking of content aggregators, did you see this about the Examiner.com writer who gamed the system?

    http://tiny.cc/f20pM

    • Hey Michelle,

      Good point about keeping at least some of the editorial calendar on the QT. My crystal ball broke long ago and breaking news has a way of breaking editorial calendars.

      And yes, I did see that piece about the writer who stung Examiner.com. Serves the aggregator right for failing to maintain proper controls, but I wonder if this is a good thing. Are content hackers next? Source spammers, perhaps?

      Of course there’s good news for editors in all this. We’ve just received proof positive that they’re as indispensable as ever.

      Tim

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