Blogging: New angles for old topics
Originality is a challenge in the blogosphere. Do we really have something new to say?
Of course. Follow my lead.
Having worked in newspapers and magazines, I fought that battle every year with the help of creative colleagues. Coming up with a new spin on Easter fashion or spring cleaning or local music festivals would sometimes induce eye rolling and heavy sighing.
We’ve seen news sites and blogs dredge up shallow takes on perennial topics with the dreaded list and slideshow. Pick the 10 most popular items, stick them in a countdown list or a click-generating slideshow and bam, done.
We can do better.
The best approach is brainstorming. Start with colleagues: They might be colleagues, they might be co-workers in other departments, they might be bloggers in the same niche. Ask what’s been done to death, and what avenues have yet to be explored. In the news industry, we held each other accountable continuously for jotting down ideas and talking with people from all walks of life for different insights.
Brainstorming with readers can also yield fresh angles. Social media offers an opportunity to ask for questions, topics and ideas.
Another approach is paying close attention to trends. How people put together their Easter ensembles is different from 10 years ago. We have more and better tools and products available for spring cleaning. Many factors influence a music festival, from how fans discover new bands to competing events to the predicted cost of gasoline.
Being attuned to what’s happening right now can make our posts smarter and more helpful to our audience. It can reassure them that we haven’t fallen out of touch with them or the world.
One last approach is to take risks in shaking things up. I came from an industry that ran screaming from anything resembling a risk, but I took them anyway.
I’m not suggesting change for the sake of change. I am suggesting that we should not shy away from different approaches to evergreen topics simply because we’re moving from our comfort zone. It might upset customers. It might garner ridicule.
Even a complete and utter failure can guide us on what to do next time. Likely, our audience will meet a new take with indifference. That’s how it goes.
I can appreciate when a blogger tries something completely different, even if it flops. Sticking to a formula can grow stale, not only for the audience but also for the creator.
These three approaches can bring new life to our blogs, even when covering well-worn topics. It’s up to us to think through how our posts can pique our interest as well as our readers’ interest.
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