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?
We read blogs, because books require too much commitment. Even playing Hay Day on one's phone requires the moving of one’s hands.
Over the last several days I have been reading a lot of new blogs. I have noticed an upsetting trend.
People start a blog. And then they… stop.
I get that for many business owners, blogging is stressful. The gods have decreed that Thou Shalt Blog If Thou Like It Or Not.
Adherence to that proclamation makes you commit to things you later regret.
Some fine, sunny, manic or desperate day, you honestly believed in your capacity to blog. (Even though you really, truly in your heart don’t want to.)
Let’s talk about what we can do to fix this.
If you feel you cannot commit to blogging, you have other options.
Whenever we do a class on content, we always get these questions. What to do if you hate blogging, suck at blogging, or can’t commit to blogging.
These questions can be summarized like this:
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 people 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 are 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 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”. You might 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. In our classes, we advise somewhere between five and 30 pieces.
Even people who hate writing can pull it together to write five to 30 articles. (Or they can pay someone else to do it.)
Part of blogging's overwhelm is the sheer unendingness of it all. A list of articles has a defined end point. This 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 start diving into your blog? And I get to the bottom of the page and I click the little “previous posts” link? And two pages into it 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. You can have “read next article” and “read previous article” buttons. You can get search engine love. You can highlight your mailing list. All sorts of things!
The only relevant function a list of articles will not perform is an RSS feed. 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. 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 one, to Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys. If you can’t find a way to do that without looking stupid, do a parenthetical aside, like the one that follows this sentence. (Read more in Six Things Potential Customers Mean When They Say They Have “No Money”.)
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 like this that says “Read the next article, 10 Perfectly Good Ways To Market Your Business, And What To Do If You Don't Like Any Of Them”
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.