26 May 2009

Blogging Tips : Breathe Life Into an Old Post

Let me be a little presumptuous and blunt - not every post in the archives of your blog is up to scratch.

I know this because the statement is true of my own blogs.

No matter how hard we work on our blogging there are always things in the posts that we’ve previously written that can be improved upon. There are also posts in most of our archives that have simply under performed for some reason or another.

Today your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to update an older post on your blog.

This is a little different to our previous task to update a key page/post on your blog (day 14) because in that task we were looking at important pages to your blog. In this one we’re looking for posts that you’ve written that for one reason or another are not up to scratch.

This might be because:

  • you rushed the initial writing of the post and was poorly written
  • your post lacked depth in some way
  • that the information is now dated
  • that you’ve changed your opinion on what you wrote
  • a key element in the post (like the title, formatting or opening lines) was poorly done
  • you were wrong with your post and it contains factual errors
  • because you know more now about the topic than you did when you first wrote it

Whatever the reason - today your task is to update at least one older post.

The update might be anything from a couple of tweaks through to a complete overhaul.

If the update is significant write a new post on your blog linking back to the old one to let readers know that it’s updated. You might also want to think about promoting it on Twitter, to other key bloggers in your niche etc.

7 Ways to Update a Post and Give it New Life

Below are 7 ways that you can update a post. These come from a series I wrote a few months back on ‘crafting blog posts‘ and while it is written from the perspective of crafting a new post I think that most of it can easily be applied to updating old posts too.

1. Crafting Your Post Title - if there’s one element that lets down posts more than others it is the post title. A title can mean the difference between a post being read or not. I’ve reworked the titles on a few old posts and seen them have new leashes of life simply because the title changed.

2. Opening Lines - your post title’s goal is to get people to read your opening line - but if you don’t have a great opening line people won’t read any further.

3. Call to Action - what do you want people to do when they’ve finished reading your post? In many cases bloggers simply let posts end in a whimper without giving readers a call to do anything. Posts that call to action give readers a ‘next step’.

4. Add Depth - many blog posts that I read would be made much more successful if the blogger just had spent a few extra minutes giving examples, adding an illustration, suggesting further reading, sharing an opinion etc. This post gives 13 ways to add depth to a post.

5. Quality Control - many posts (my own included) could be improved with a little extra proof reading. Also pay attention to links that may have become dead or facts that you present that are dated or inaccurate for current readers.

6. Polishing Posts - how your post looks has a massive impact upon how they are treated by readers. A great looking post can mean the difference between a post being read and going viral and a post that sits unnoticed in your archives.

7. Conversation - for many bloggers once a post is published it goes off the radar for the blogger despite readers interacting with it and commenting upon it for days, weeks, months and even years after.

Further Reading

Updating Old Posts On Your Blog - an exploration of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ to update old posts. This explores the question of when to update an old post and when to write a new post that updates an older one.

Check out the discussion on this topic here in our forum.

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