By Carla Kalogeridis
AS MORE AND MORE ASSOCIATIONS VENTURE INTO THE WORLD OF BLOGGING, many editors and communications managers—to whom the responsibility for blogging often falls—are finding themselves scared stiff about how to come up with interesting things to write about on their association's blog.
Here are several tricks from Paul Gillin, a veteran technology journalist and a regular blogger:
1. Choose a topic about which you have strong opinions. If the subject doesn't move you, it's hard to get motivated and create ideas. If the subject gets you angry, make sure to reread your blog post several times and run it by others in your association before hitting the "publish” button.
2. Use feeds to find ideas. Because all blogs and most news sites support RSS feeds, association bloggers should assemble feeds in their RSS reader. "RSS readers are basically mini newspapers you create out of information streams from online sources,” Gillin explains. Use Google Reader to set up topical feeds from bloggers and publishers that you like. It's usually a two-click process to add a feed to Google Reader, and another couple of steps to organize the feed into a folder. The feeds also allow you to easily see how a topic is trending or whether the topic is controversial by the amount of attention it's getting, he points out.
4. Tweet and be tweeted. When you see something interesting, or have an idea, association bloggers should tweet it. You can then go through your own tweet stream later and look for ideas that have since slipped your mind. "Twitter is also an endless source of blogging ideas,” Gillin says. "If you carefully manage the list of people you follow, the stream of tweets is a great source of inspiration.” In addition, with the new Twitter Lists feature, you can now read tweets from people who share interests or affiliations.
5. Listen to your members. Conferences and committee meetings are good sources of potential blogging material because they tap into what's on your members' minds right now.
6. Refresh old material. Review your own writings. Revisit an old prediction and see if it came true, or discuss new ideas on an old subject. "Be sure to link to the original article to drive a little more traffic to it,” Gillin says.
7. Tell a story. Telling a story is still the most powerful form of human communication. Reach back to an experience that was meaningful to you and start writing it down. What did you learn from that experience? How can those lessons help your association's members?
8. Conduct a small research project. For example, for one of his blog posts, Gillin visited 15 corporate blogs shortly after the financial meltdown and looked at what they were saying about the economy. He found that the lack of attention to this important story was stunning and wrote a blog post about it. In another blog, he picked a stream of 100 tweets at random and analyzed them for content and value.
9. Make a list. Pick a topic about which you have some expertise and offer quick hits of advice. Think: '10 Ways to Research a Company on the Web,' or 'Seven software utilities I couldn't live without.'
10. Recommend. Are there blogs, discussion forums, podcasts, or how-to websites that you love? Write them down, tell what you like about each, and share them with your members. When you see an interesting article or video, bookmark it and write a comment. Gillin says services like Delicious, Reddit, and Clipmarks make this easy. Diigo allows you to highlight and annotate the items that you bookmark.
Carla Kalogeridisis editorial director of Association Media & Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @CarlaKalo. Look for more blogging tips coming up soon on Association Media & Publishing's new website.