The social media world falls victim to an environment of “haves” and “have nots.” There are those people that are very socially connected. They’re on Twitter, Facebook, and they blog a ton. And then there are those others that look at the “socially connected” in either awe (“Wow, how do I get to be like you?”) or derision (“Who has time to do all this stuff?”).
I believe the problem for the social media “have nots” is that they haven’t figured out how to ingrain social media into their daily lives. Because the most common complaint I hear from this audience is either “what would I talk about” or I “have no time to blog.” If you feel either way, let me reassure you that you do have plenty to talk about and you do actually have time to blog. The problem is you haven’t figured out how to register these “moments.” Finding stories to blog about and recording them effectively requires constant active thinking. Get good enough at it and it becomes second nature. You see good stories, and opportunities. The headlines jump out at you and the formation of the story immediately starts to gel, allowing you to quickly write and record the story.
There’s a parallel in martial arts, where extremely well trained fighters simply can’t be surprised. They’re always at the ready to defend themselves. To find stories to write about and the time to blog means to know when a story appears and how it needs to be digested for your audience. It’s the job of a reporter or an editor, and everyone else can exercise these same mental muscles in our daily lives.
How to find time to blog
What do you want to be known for? – Often the reason people don’t start blogging is they don’t know what they want to blog about. The answer to that question can be found when you answer the simple end result question, “What do you want to be known for?” Once you know that, you’ll be able to form the editorial voice of your blog.
Think in headlines – What ideas and opinions do you have? You’ll want to formulate them as headlines. Look at the type of headlines that catch your eye and how the same structures could be used to be the framework for what you want to talk about. Popular headline structures include numbered lists, how to’s, best practices, and what not to do. How can your stories be formed in these headline structures?
What do you keep repeating? – We all find ourselves repeating the same personal anecdotes or explanations of our business. In person, or over email. Every time you find yourself in one of those “I’m repeating one of those stories again,” write a quick note to yourself. That story will be your next blog post. And the next time someone asks you that same question, instead of repeating yourself, just send them a link to that post.
Look at your sent email – Go through the past couple of weeks of sent emails and see if you had one of those “I’m repeating myself” moments or maybe you just wrote a long email to someone. Take a look at that message. Would it make a good blog post if you did a little editing? If so, do it.
Blog about a great conversation – Conferences, trade shows, and dinners are where you’ll engage in great conversations. Make a note of the conversation and immediately write something about it when you get home when it’s still fresh in your mind.
Tell personal stories – My most popular articles are actually based on real stories that happen to me or other people. People can relate to the stories. Also if the story happened to me, I can pretty much guarantee that no one else wrote about it.
Keep a “what to blog about” file – Ideas will pop into your head all the time. When you’re out and about talking to people or browsing online. You may not have the time to write the entire post at a given moment, but you will have time to make a note about it. Keep a file of just headlines on your computer, and another one in the notes section of your mobile device.
Videotape moments and interview people you meet – If you’ve got an iPhone, Flip camera, or similar device, you’ve got an easy to carry video camera that can go with you everywhere. But just because you have the tools to record video doesn’t mean you’re going to use them. Most people don’t ask for interviews or record “in the moment” events because of fear of looking awkward or fear of how to approach a person for an interview. If that’s you, recognize it and just start doing it. Start by interviewing a friend first before you interview a stranger. For more of my tips on video blogging, see the interview and article Sharon Vaknin wrote on Socialbrite entitled, “Create video stories for your nonprofit in 6 steps.”
Always be on alert for stories
The reason people don’t think they have time to blog is because they’re not consciously always looking for blog post opportunities. Successful blogging that doesn’t eat up your time requires you to consciously thinking about all of these things and know when to capitalize on them. You’ve already made the time for the stories by telling them in emails and conversations. All you have to do is transfer the existing publishing platform (e.g. email application or telephone) to a blogging platform.