Today’s post is by guest blogger and writer, Pamela Merritt. Pamela is a cat whisperer who shares her insight and advice on a blog and in her new book, The Way of Cats. She’s blogged for years and has advice on how to keep finding new content. You can also check her out for advice on how to train, care for, and live with cats.
Take it away, Pamela!
The challenge of keeping a blog full of fresh new content is a daunting one. The number of 3-post-blogs littering the internet is proof of that.
I’ve been a Cat Whisperer with a blog for over a decade. As any writer will tell you, it’s the ability to write, regardless of mood, which creates more and better work.
At the Way of Cats blog, I take on a large subject and add some unique twists from my years in the field. This means I’m not only blogging about things people think they know, I am getting them thinking about new things at the same time.
Which is how I’ve been able to keep it fresh.
Expand the subject
Most of us start writing out of a passion to create art. For myself, it was a break from a decade of fiction writing which got me praised, passed around, but not published.
Now, I could use those skills in non-fiction, a genre which was not sore to the touch. I turned to another lively interest I shared with the world: Cat Appreciation.
There are many facets to cat appreciation: care, choosing the right cat, training negotiations, getting to know and love each other. Any time I was stuck, I would look for a subject I hadn’t written on as much as the others. With so many facets to choose from, one category was bound to be a bit low.
Another trick is to “tidy up” a post, and find a new topic hidden in it. Use this as a pushing-off point to launch a new angle. By looking over past posts, I usually found a tip that I hadn’t shared yet.
Look at popular posts with an eye for expansion opportunities. Then I have the “anchor” of a popular post which links to the new post.
Did a walk, event, or photo from a friend create thoughts of our special focus? Can we turn this into a post? Such a personal touch creates a strong drive to keep reading. It can easily be something our fans can relate to.
We should always be on the lookout for another interest we can match with the one we are blogging about. A writer’s blog can talk about what they read. A sailor’s blog can feature meals which can be cooked in a micro-kitchen. In my own blog, the pictures I took of my cats developed along with my interest in photography and painting.
By learning to filter and otherwise alter my sometimes poorly lit or mis-framed cat photos, I can salvage a photo session. I have illustrations for my cat posts which bring out the beauty of my cats, set a mood, and illustrate the point I’m making. All in my own distinctive style.
Expertise is part of what draws readers to us. The more we delve, the more our readers will love coming along for the ride.
One of the benefits of a long-running blog is how certain themes appear. Our own personality and overview will craft style and focus for us. If we let it.
I now look upon my body of work as a beautiful base which can support a lot of great information. I have established a category called Fundamentals. This are my longer-form, highly crafted, posts. They are designed to establish important principles of my method.
This serves my audience, who can click on the link to such information, when and where they need it. Longtime fans can read on to learn something new. Thus, no matter where my new reader lands, there will be something to help and intrigue.
Work which sells
An astonishing development in my own site reveals another benefit to blogs which keep going. After creating products of my own, trying and rejecting ads, and putting out a book, The Way of Cats, all to keep up with the expenses of running a popular site, I added another income venue.
Half of my posts are only accessible to fans who pay for membership access. I’m still giving back to the cat community, since important sections of my site are free to all. But the decade while I built my fan base can now help me reach new ones.
Paying some bills keeps my brain fresh, I hope to tell you.
Just like the middles of books we are writing can sag and drag, so can the middles of blogs. We’ve burned up that big pile of firewood and all we see are twigs. We need to go for a walk in the woods. Ideas might come from anywhere once we have the “blogging state of mind.”
I love a story told from the life of Wallace Stevens, celebrated poet, and to pay the bills, insurance company executive. Stevens would use his morning walk to work on his poetry, and several neighbors spoke of his alternately halting, then brisk, walk. This showed the times he was working on a new phrase and slowed down, and when he had one he liked and was running the poem through his mind at the same brisk pace as his body.
We can be like that.