So I got sick. Really sick. The kind of sick where you’re pretty sure that if you lift your arm to move your glasses? Yup, you’re probably going to throw up.
And what do we do when we get that sick at IttyBiz HQ?
We read blogs, because books require too much commitment and even Hay Day requires the moving of one’s hands.
Over the last several days I have been reading a lot of new blogs, and I have noticed an upsetting trend.
People start a blog. And then they… stop.
From a selfish perspective, it’s upsetting because I want to settle in and read for a while. If I love you instantly, I don’t want to get all invested and then find out the fun times are gone.
From an altruistic perspective, it’s upsetting because I want you to succeed and I don’t want people leaving your website in a huff or tears or both.
I get that for many ittybiz owners, the gods have decreed that Thou Shalt Blog Regardless Of Thine Preferences or Proclivities. I get that adherence to that proclamation from on high makes thou commit to things thou later regret. I get that some fine, sunny, manic or desperate day, thou honestly believed in thine capacity to blog, even though thou really, truly in thine heart don’t want to.
It still kind of sucks, though, so let’s talk about what we can do to fix it.
If you feel you cannot commit to blogging, please do not blog.
Whenever we do a class on content, we always get questions on what to do if you hate blogging, suck at blogging, or can’t commit to blogging.
These questions can be summarized thusly:
THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE SAY I NEED A BLOG OH GOD WHAT SHOULD I DO?!?!
Fair point. Except the people in charge didn’t say you need a blog. They said you need content. Most ittybiz owners choose a blog for their content, but it is not required.
(If anybody says you need a blog, please remove them from your feed reader. Or throw eggs at them. Either is good.)
If you’ve got reasons to be squeamish about blogging, here are three options that are not blogs:
- Podcasts and audios and stuff. Not bad if you like that sort of thing.
- Videos. Also not bad if you like that sort of thing.
- A list of articles. This is my favorite option and the one we will discuss today.
Why a list of articles might be a whack lot better than a blog for you.
1. Most blogs suck.
It is entirely possible that the whole world knows this. Therefore, a new reader might be much more inclined to click a navigation bar link that says “Articles” than one that says “Blog”. So you might actually get MORE readers by having a static list of articles than you would have with a blog. Crazy.
2. There is no law that says how long a list of articles must be.
You can make the list as short as you want. When we write these for clients, and what we advise in our classes, is somewhere between five and 30 pieces.
Even people who hate writing or can’t commit to writing can at least pull it together to write between five and 30 articles. (Or they can pay someone else to do it.)
Part of why blogging is so incredibly overwhelming for those not into blogging is because of the sheer unendingness of it all. A list of articles, with a defined end point, helps mitigate that feeling of Oh My God Is It Ever Going To End Actually Nope Upon Consideration It Does Not Appear It Will Ever End Agggghkkkkkk.
3. Audience expectations are managed.
If I arrive at your list and see that you have 17 articles, I expect 17 articles and no more. I am therefore not surprised or disappointed when I reach the end.
If I get to your blog and start diving in and I get to the bottom of the page and I click the little “previous posts” link? And two pages in there’s no more link?
I. Am. Bummed. And now I kind of hate you a little bit.
Avoid this problem with a list.
4. Article lists perform almost every function blogs perform.
You can interlink, have “read next article” or “read previous article” buttons, get search engine love, highlight your mailing list, and so on. The only relevant function a list of articles will not perform is an RSS feed that people can subscribe to, and let’s face it – if you’re a reluctant blogger, you weren’t going to get many subscribers anyway. Those you did get would be disappointed by your sucky and/or absent blogging. So you’re really not losing anything.
5. You can control what new visitors see.
One of the big downsides of blogging is that you can never tell when or where a new visitor will arrive. If your most recent post kind of sucks, or is off topic, or is horridly dated, you look like you suck, you are off topic, or you are horridly dated. Not an ideal outcome.
With a list of articles, the content creator controls the experience. There’s nothing that sucks, and to a degree, you can even control a bit of what order the new visitor reads the content in. Figure out how to do that with a blog, and you’re a lot smarter than I am.
How to actually put this into practice.
If you are so overwhelmed by blogging that this all sounds great in theory but you don’t know what to do to actually put it into practice, here’s a handy tutorial.
1. Make a page. (Not a post. A page.) Call it Articles.
2. Put that page in your navigation bar.
3. On that page, make a linked list of articles. (Bonus points for a little snippet in paragraph form under each link that makes the article sound interesting, or a little summary or something. Not required, but a nice touch.)
4. Within the body of each article, try to find at least one place to link to another article. You can do that with an inline link, like this, or if you can’t find a way to do that without looking hamfisted, do it in a parenthetical aside, like the one that follows this sentence. (Read more in What The Turtle Never Told You in our newsletter archive. It’s one of my favorites but nobody ever reads it because everyone thinks it’s spam.)
5. At the end of each article, put a link that says “Go back to the full list of articles.”
6. Extra credit: Also at the end of each article, put a link that says “Read the next article, Do All Roads Lead To Rome?” (In this case, I should totally have named that piece Does This Way Match My What? but hindsight’ll get you every time.)
Bingo. You never have to blog ever again.
P.S. It just occured to me that there are three lists in this article about lists of articles.