My Big Hit of BlogHer Inspiration Continues ...

BlogHer Original Post

Just like what my friend Sarah Dopp said in the New York Times this morning, she goes to BlogHer for "a big hit of inspiration.”

Blogging Workflow

This year, my inspiration came from Amy Gahran who gave a writing workshop at BlogHer that I will use as my muse along the path to improved blog writing. (Amy Lenzo has a great summary on her blog.)

I recently discovered a blogging work flow tool called Zemanta, that according to its web site will save you time and increase traffic. It works on a number of different blogging platforms, including the one I use, typepad. It recommends links and photos while you write. (Sarah Peretz, Read/Write Web has a more detailed description of how it works and the features.)

Bringing traffic and saving time were attractive enough lures to get me to install it. I took it out for a test drive, initially writing about Zemanta.

I found a few features annoying, most notably the lack of flexibility with the templates. I also didn't like the photos it recommended (and in fact one it suggested was all rights reserved). In some ways, I found using it counter-intuitive to my thinking and reflection process. I was about to ditch the whole experiment when Zemanta recommended two excellent posts by Chris Brogan, "A Sample Blogging Work Flow" and David Peralty on Organizing a Blog Post.

Ah, ha ... maybe it is suggesting that I should write a post about my blogging workflow! That way I can really understand if this tool would help me save time or bring traffic. I also wondered "Can a blogging work flow tool really help you improve the quality of your blogging?"

I created a mindmap of Peralty's step-by-step framework to help me reflect on my steps. I follow something very similar, although I am very reiterative about the process until I publish and similar to Chris Brogan - very organic about the first three steps.

For example, I might not start with a specific a topic in mind. I might instead read through some blog feeds or find interesting links from people I follow on FriendFeed or Twitter and then bookmark posts on topics (within my "beat") that I have an opinion about, something to add, or that I just find interesting. Sometimes I get an idea based on a pattern analysis or connecting several seemingly unconnected posts/ideas together. Many times ideas for topics come from reader comments. (thanks everyone!)

Sometimes I have a specific topic I want to write about and start there. That usually isn't the case. Maybe I should be more proactive in my topic selection and brainstorm a list of topics, pick one, and then go research it.

I also select a visual early on because it helps me think. I might spend a few minutes brainstorming on flickr by typing in combinations of keywords related to ideas to come up with a metaphor. (Usually while listening to Mozart) I guess this could be called research, but it is also idea generation.

After I've written the post, I may leave it in draft for a few days to marinate if I'm not happy with it. I have way too many posts in draft.

The call to action - asking a question at the end to generate discussion is a technique that is integrated into my writing process unless I am doing an interview - but that is a very good point to remember and a useful tip to share with new bloggers.

I think of the publishing and connecting step as what happens after I click the "publish button." If it is a post where I am hoping to get a lot of conversation, I might compose a question for Twitter, my Facebook or LinkedIn status line, add the link to flickr photo illustrating the post, and/or share in the appropriate room on FriendFeed.

What's your blogging work flow process?


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