How to Get Ideas for your Blog

It’s as simple as looking around you

Some days you wake up and you’re all out of ideas. Too bad, because your schedule calls for a 750-word blog post today.

My presentation at Chicago Blog Week (Nov. 9, offers some easy concepts that will stimulate your brain and help meet that deadline, based on an earlier blog post (“Jumpstart Your Car by Answering Five Simple Questions“).

Check out the slides, and if you’d like a fuller explanation one-on-one or in a workshops, just ask.

Content Marketing with a DIY Video Animation Tool

Which format communicates an idea better: a 90-minute presentation or a 3-minute video?

I recently attended a presentation in which the speaker took 90 minutes to explain the concept of “content marketing” and how it can draw customers to your business. At the  end of the presentation, several people in the audience — many of whom were just beginning to contemplate having a website — were a bit confused.

Actually, the phrase “content marketing” has been around for a long time. The Wikipedia page for “content marketing” was created in 2008.

Content marketing is essentially storytelling with a specific goal.

Content marketing objectives

Typical uses of content marketing include:

  • Sell something;
  • Engage an audience;
  • Provide vital safety and health information;
  • Persuade people to take an action; and
  • Share your vast knowledge with the public.

I’ve been doing content marketing most of my life, beginning in the mid 1960s when I was an editor of the school paper in sixth grade.

My consulting practice, Jonathan Lehrer Communications, manages blogs (example: Gary H. Smith, Chicago property tax attorney), produces email newsletters (example: Thornton High School Alumni Legacy Fund) and provides the voice for podcasts (example: College of American Pathologists).

Getting more attention on Facebook by using videos

If your content marketing plan includes Facebook (and why wouldn’t it?) you should know that the post will reach more eyes if it includes video. But isn’t quality video expensive to produce?

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Sorting Out the Versions of WordPress

Dear Mr. Communicator: I want to start blogging. Should I sign up for, which I understand is completely free, or create a self-hosted site? — Slightly Confused

Dear Slightly,

I work with many clients to develop WordPress sites. At the outset of a project, one of the biggest questions is whether the new site should be on or self-hosted. You’re not alone in being confused.

To better understand the pros and cons, please head over to my recent post on LinkedIn, where I provide some resources that explain how to choose  the best WordPress option.

Of course, as a content creator and builder of WordPress sites, I’d be happy to help if you need it.


Jumpstart Your Blog by Answering Five Simple Questions

Statistics would show (if there actually was such a statistic) that a huge number of blogs on the web haven’t been updated since Al Gore invented the Internet.

(True, Gore didn’t really invent the Internet, but then why is so much technology based on an Al-Gore-ithm?)

Many executives, PR people and entrepreneurs start a  blog with all good intentions, posting weekly, then monthly, then every couple of months, then “I don’t remember the last time I posted something.” This makes your site out of date and doesn’t reflect well on your organization. You’re missing out on the benefits of content marketing.

But it’s not so easy to find something to write about, right? I have a simple procedure that will stimulate your creativity, getting you past your writer’s block and back into the grove of blogging.

Here are five creative questions. Pick one and write out your answer. Make it at least 300 words. That’s the first post on your newly resurrected blog. Then pick a second question — and that’ll be your second blog post.

1. Where did you get that idea?

You’re the head of a successful company. Tell us what inspired you to develop the product or service that made you rich.

2. What did you do yesterday at 3:30?

You could blog about your job title or description. Boring!

On the other hand, Lia Lehrer tells me that a very effective interview question focuses on a single moment. Perhaps you were on a call with a prospective client. Write about your sales pitch. Or maybe you were reviewing plans for a new product introduction. Blog about how you select new offerings. (If you were taking a nap, you could write about work-life balance.)

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Getting Started with WordPress

You’ve heard a lot about using WordPress to create a website or publish your ideas on the blogosphere. But how do you get started?

One way is to find a free WordPress training workshop. I would be happy to give one for your organization. (Contact me for more info.)

This brief online slideshow was prepared for a WordPress training workshop for Jewish B2B Networking.

Core Concept: Key Ingredient for Blogs, Facebook and More

Dear Mr. Communicator: Should I blog? Should I be on Twitter? — an executive looking for inspiration

Use your Fundamental Idea as the key ingredient, whether the recipe is for a blog, a website a company brochure or a white paper. If you get this right, you deserve latkes — potato pancakes — with applesauce (lower left).

When clients ask me these questions, the answer is almost always, “do you have something to say?” In other words, if you don’t have a message — a Core Concept — it’s fairly useless to worry about how you’ll deliver it.

To the business owner who dreams of getting a lot of “likes” on his Facebook postings, the concept of a message strategy can seem a bit foreign. So I illustrate it by talking about my favorite topic: dessert.

Lately, as I have been having occasional business meetings at Baker’s Square – for their free wireless Internet, of course – I’ve been thinking about pies.

Should I have Country Apple, French Apple or Apple Cinnamon? Should I accompany the pie with a cup of apple-flavored herbal tea?

They’re all different formats of apples, and obviously they couldn’t exist without the apple.

(At about this point, it should occur to you that in my fruit-flavored analogy, the apple represents the Core Concept. Clever, no?)

Let’s expand the analogy to include just plain apple slices, apple slices with peanut butter, apple slices in a salad, applesauce (on potato pancakes, of course), apple cider and taffy apples (a favorite of both my wife, Estee, and my daughter, Lia).

Before Blogging, Know Your Basic Message

If you don’t have an apple – a Core Concept – you’ll have a hard time coming up with something to blog about on a regular basis.

But if you have a basic message, or a perspective on your business, you’ll never run out of topics.

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Create the Perfect Blog Post

Blog articles should be short

A blog post should be 300-400 words.

A client recently sent me an article to post on the organization’s blog. Her email noted that it might be “a little long.”

No kidding! It was more than 1,300 words.

In this era of what I like to call the Internet-Induced Attention Deficit Issue, my client’s proposed blog post was about 1,000 words too long. Edit it, slice it, cut it or split it into three posts.

Bloggers and webmasters have become obsessed with SEO — search engine optimization — a collection of techniques that get your page ranked highly by Google, thus attracting visitors to your site and bringing bundles of fame and fortune. The folks at Google say the best way to get their attention is to create a page that is useful for a human reader.

The best length and format for a blog entry

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Presentation: Anatomy of a Blog

This presentation was prepared specially for a training workshop about blogging at the Jewish Vocational Service of Chicago. Contact us if you’d like to have the full presentation at a meeting of your organization.

Experts explain the benefits of blogging for business and education

Why Blog?

By Jonathan Lehrer

My ego has been a bit underemployed lately. (By “lately,” I mean since I was the P.A. announcer at Niles North High School in Skokie in 1971.) So today–Feb. 1, 2011–I am giving my ego a birthday present: A blog, with the ego-feeding title of “MrCommunicator.”

(Please don’t tell my ego that about 10 billion people have treaded this ground before me.)

From left: Joe Weber, Chris Ruys, Wally Podrazik, Jill Stewart, Scott Meis

From left: Joe Weber, Chris Ruys, Wally Podrazik, Jill Stewart, Scott Meis

So for my first official post, I reached out to journalism profs, writers and professional communicators to muse about why people bang away at the keyboard when they could be enjoying Craig Ferguson. Or, better, sleeping.

  • Wally Podrazik says people blog because they have to.
  • Jill Stewart says she blogs because she can.
  • Joe Weber sees blogging as a way of living out a fantasy.
  • Chris Ruys uses blogs to promote her business.
  • And Scott Meis says a blog is a form of “personal brand positioning.”

Chris Ruys, owner of Chris Ruys Communications, Inc., a self-described child of the ‘60s, points out that most of what she’s learned is “out the window” in these days of social media.

Chris blogs “to share the new rules of marketing, PR and communications with my subscribers, friends, followers and connections.” While she runs her boutique PR firm–which she aims to promote in via the blogosphere–Chris still finds time to write for two blogs: “Getting Social” (about social media tools) and her newest online endeavor, chrisruys1on1, a subscriber-based blog with tips, tactics and advice on social media, public relations and communications.

What Chris is doing is “personal brand positioning,” in the view of Scott Meis, a Digital Group Manager on Weber Shandwick’s Social Impact team.

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