How To Plan for a Blog Hiatus

A while back, I took a bit of a blog break. And during the month or so of not posting consistently, everything that could have turned my world upside down, did. Fortunately, among the bad, there was a lot of good. My little sister got married, I have some exciting new things potentially happening on the career front and my loved one was released from hospital and is doing really, really well.

Throughout that time, the biggest thing I didn’t do was continue to post regularly. Any content manager will tell you that consistency is one of the most critical indicators of success. And I’ve been guilty of just the opposite. To remedy that should I find myself in a month-long, seemingly endless round of life making my plans on my behalf, I’ve decided to prepare myself using a few content “cheats.”

Pre-writing a few posts

I plan to pre-write some “evergreen” blog posts to put up for when I my focus can’t be with my readers. It’s not fair to my followers who count on weekly content to not read a post in more than a month. And it also undermines my credibility – I can’t be telling people to post consistently if I’m not doing so. Evergreen posts are posts that have a timeless appeal – they’re just as relevant when they’re written as they are a few weeks or months later.

Posting “Lean”

If I don’t have time to compose a full length post, concentrate on writing a short one – even a few well-chosen words is better than no post at all.

Putting myself on a schedule

I schedule my writing time for others. I schedule my social media posting times. I schedule everything else about my life… except my writing. It’s time that I should be guarding just as fiercely as I guard the time for my morning runs. Right now, I’m shoe-horning it in between all the other stuff I do, and that’s not okay.

What’s Happening

If I’m at a loss for a topic (hey, it happens to everyone) and that’s what’s holding me back, I’ll check out what’s happening in the world and comment on it. (and there’s always something happening in the marketing world to comment on).

Experimenting With Other Mediums

Podcasting, vlogging, infographics – there are so many other ways besides writing to create and distribute content, and I’m certainly exploring alternatives to writing a post. The bonus? Visual content is shared much more frequently than written content on the web.

I’m curious about how you schedule your writing time, readers. Let me know in the comments how you work consistent posting into your schedule.


Blogging Your Business

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how marketing has become an exercise in story telling. People don’t just want to know what you’re selling anymore, they often also want to know the story behind the product, service or company. “Content marketing” has become the new marketing buzzword, and you’ll often hear people talking about the importance of company blogs – apparently, if you don’t have one, you’re in the digital dark ages.

I personally sit squarely on the fence when it comes to company blogs. Do I think companies need blogs? Absolutely. But there are three basic considerations:

  1. Don’t sell! A company blog is not another place to push your product. Push information. If you sell, say, mailboxes, talk about how the mailbox industry has changed or new trends in mailboxes, not just the features and benefits of the mailboxes that you personally sell
  2. Keep it updated consistently. If you’re not updating your blog consistently, it’s not worth keeping one. People want to see regular posts, otherwise, they’ll move onto other, more consistently updated sources
  3. Be real, but not too real. Your human voice needs to come through, not your corporate voice. But, keep it clean, though – no swearing, no running down the competition, no off-colour jokes

A blog is a great place (along with a really strong ‘About Us’ page) to tell your story. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and tell your story. I’d love to hear it, too so leave me a comment and tell me more about you and your story.

What Are You Worth?

I was sitting in a session at Podcamp a couple of Saturdays ago (February 23). During the Q&A, someone asked where to find writers for their company blog. The presenter, the president of a public relations firm suggested bidding sites, and mentioned a well-known one by name. While hearing her suggest a bidding site was interesting, her rationale saddened me. “If you go to this site, you can find a writer for pretty cheap who will likely do a couple of blog posts for about $50.”

Bidding sites – websites where writers bid on posted freelance work are known among many freelance writers to be low paying – and they’re rarely, if ever, a great place to make a living. From what I’ve seen on these boards, $50 for two blog posts would be a good contract. Many gigs request writers that work for far less. I’ve personally seen a post offering a maximum of $2.40 for a 400 word post. Yikes!

From an employer’s perspective, hiring someone less expensive is good for the bottom line. But, on the flip side, will low cost mean low quality? If the writer you hire for “pretty cheap” is turning out dozens of low-paying pieces per day just to stay financially afloat, are you getting quality work, or the work of someone who is rushing to the next gig? Yes, there are quality writers who place too low a value on what they offer, but finding one is tough.

From a writer’s perspective, I’m afraid that bidding sites are driving down the rates writers are able to charge for their work. If enough writers on bidding sites are willing to accept low-paying gigs, will this impact the rate that employers expect to pay as these sites gain popularity?

I set hourly and per word rates that reflect my writing experience, the expertise I have in financial and professional services writing and editing and what the average market rate is where I live. Do I sometimes adjust my rate for a client that I really want to work with? Of course, but only if I know that I will get additional work from that employer in the future or if I really believe in what they’re doing and want to be part of it. If it’s a publication that I am pitching, they usually set what they offer, and I simply read the contracts carefully to ensure that I am comfortable with the terms.

My advice to an employer is to carefully hire your writers – and to pay them fairly. As for fellow writers, be careful what you accept. For both writers and employers, be willing to negotiate. Between the high and the low, there’s often a good middle price that everyone will find fair.