Sunday, July 27, 2008

Analyzing The Power Blogging Process

Bloggers, are you always searching for ways to improve the writing process? Do you eagerly read passage after passage on how to blog? Are you searching for a way to become the next A-list blogger? You are not alone and since there are almost 2 million articles telling you exactly how to present your blog you will be reading for a long time.

Learn from the A-list Bloggers

Articles by some of the best bloggers explain the process that works for them. Some present blogging tips as essentials while others maintain the tips as suggestions. For example, while reading Chris Brogan's blog today, I ran across a link to David Peralty's Organizing a Blog Post. Peralty suggests 7 organizing steps:

  1. The idea

  2. The questions

  3. The research

  4. The Post

  5. The Call to Action

  6. The Pretty Additions

  7. The Publishing and Promotion

Do these tips work?

The reason the A-list Bloggers have high traffic is because they use techniques I call Power Blogging. Post after post is filled with the three Qs: Quality, Queries, and Questions. The A-list Bloggers show curiosity and do not just babble needlessly about a topic. They are on target; they write it and move on to promoting the post. The posts are organized and lead you to comment.

Blog Post Analyses

Let's look at a few blog postings from A-list bloggers and see if we can discern a pattern.

Robert Scoble uses some classic techniques in his blog posts. The blog editing system in action post is a perfect starting point for understanding the Power Blogging techniques. Robert provides a timeframe for the article. He subtly explains he did not just sit down and pound out an article the moment it popped into his head. The reader is told there were discussions prompting the post. Next, Robert builds a frame for the topic. He presents his perspective, providing arguments in defense of his position. He then ends with what Peralty writes is the Call to Action; Robert ends saying "But, you gotta read and participate in those comments!" Clever.

Louis Gray is another classic A-list blogger. In his latest blog post, FriendFeed Friday Tips #8: How To Post To FriendFeed Via E-mail, we get to see Louis demonstrate how to properly use "The Pretty Additions." Consider the use of lists and images in this blog post. Nice, eh? Most important, he ends with, "To get started, head to and give your e-mail a shot."

Darin Rowse, ProBlogger, is another blogger using the Power Blogging techniques. The first sentence of the post How to Make Your Blog More Personal sets the time frame for the reader. Again, he ends the post with a Call to Action: "I’d love to hear how you add a personal touch to your blog in comments below."

From these three examples, we can see not all blog posts have all the elements discussed by some experts. We do not see bullet points or numbered lists in all of the posts. We do not see pretty additions in all of the examples. We also do not know about the amount of research behind each of these posts.

How much time is enough?

Because we do not know the amount of time the A-list bloggers spend writing an entry, we need to fall back to some of their comments. Here are two comments worth noting.

Google Blog search is something I do for nearly every post, and it's something I'd recommend others do as well. Even if you do write about something already covered, it's good form (where it fits) to link out to existing coverage - Duncan Riley

Don’t take too much time researching, or you can get bogged down in what others have said. For longer articles, you shouldn’t be spending more than an hour researching for a post. This can be one of the longest time sinks in creating an article. Don’t spend time writing the post as you research, or you can get sidetracked, and unable to create proper flow in your article. - David Peralty

I am lousy with the research element of a blog post and have vowed for years to improve. I'll get better with practice. I bet you will, too.

Introducing Herman!

I used to keep my notes in my head but lately the notes are just too scattered, therefore, I have been writing down blogging tips over the past few weeks. Six of these tips are what I now refer to as essential and I want to share these with you in a way you will remember them.

Herman! the Power Blogging Process. Herman is a way to keep yourself organized and on task to create and publish timely, unique and thoughtful posts. Each post will be consistent and help your readers focus on the topic. Actually, the acronym Herman is also a framework for building traffic as well as keeping blog posts on target. Some of these elements match David Peralty's blogging steps. I bet you can find the similarities and differences. 

What is Herman!? Herman stands for Hold, Expand, Remember, Mention, Announce, and Never.

  • Hold all posts until after you have thoroughly researched your topic

  • Expand on the topic; contribute something new and don't just copy other blog posts.

  • Remember to separate out sections with headings

  • Mention other bloggers and articles

  • Announce your post to social services

  • Never ignore the comments

If we return to our analyses above, you might see the Herman pattern in the A-list blogger's posts. Robert doesn't always use headings but the topic sentences in each paragraph help guide the reader in the same manner. He clearly mentions other people and is a strong advocate of opening up comments on blogs. Louis Gray expanded on the need for new members to the FriendFeed community. His posts are announced on FriendFeed and he never ignores comments. If we return to Darin Rowse's posts, the 6 elements are apparent: time, expanding on a topic, idea separation, links to other articles, and lots of comments.

I don't want to expand too much on Herman. He appears to be self-explanatory. So, please give Herman a shot and let me know if Herman helped you become the Power Blogger. I'd love to know what worked for you and what did not.