Friday, February 1, 2008

Buffer Building - it's not just for Webcomics Anymore

Buffers are important for comics -- they keep the artist (i.e. me) from going insane with work, while making sure readers get their fix exactly when they want it. It takes a lot of effort sometimes to make sure I have a big enough buffer, though; I worked overtime during the winter to make sure that I had enough comics available for the next semester of college so I could focus on college without stressing out over the comics.

While I've not written an article about just building buffers (I'll probably get to it soon, I'm sure) they're just as important for blogs as well. Why?
  • Sometimes you'll have an incomplete post -- something that isn't fully fleshed out yet, but is too good to put down.
  • Your muse just went into overdrive and you're just bursting with ideas, but you know you can't just post them all at once or else you'll pass up on the benefits of posting all those things, because posting too often in a single day just makes you look desperate.
  • It's the wrong time of the week to trot out a gigantic post about effectively monetizing your audience... when you're about to post the next page of the comic and thus expose your OTHER audience to something they may not want to read.
Whatever the reason, there's one thing they have in common: you've got a post (or seven) that needs to be kept in mothballs for the next available time, maybe because it needs a good title or it just doesn't feel complete yet. And that's where having a buffer comes in! Suddenly you have a lot of great ideas in storage, just waiting for the right moment to come out and knock your audience for a loop!

As great as it all sounds, though, before you can enjoy the benefits of a buffer, you need to have a buffer, first. Here's some quick tips for how to build a Blog Buffer:
  1. Abuse your Drafts. Having a few random articles or two sitting around in various stages from development is always good. These ought to be heavy-hitting articles, so having a few of these around allows you to save some for rainy days of the blog.
  2. Write what comes to your mind first. Yes, you're supposed to write the headline first. Brainstorms don't work like that. You don't sit down and think "Wow, I should come up with 21 great tips for X, because 21 is a sweet number!", you think "I want to write about some tips for X, because X is AWESOME!" So write some tips for X.
  3. Plant Some Headline Seeds! First, you need some great headline templates. And some more. Maybe a few more than that. Don't worry, you're not doing anything illegal -- it's just Mad Libs for your Blog. Take a text file, and start filling in the blanks with stuff that sounds relevant to your own work. Giving you ideas? It ought to! Now that you've made great headlines which sound awesome to read, you'll be more motivated to write good material!
  4. Find some Padding if you can't post daily. For those of you who keep up with the RSS feed (which you should really subscribe to if you don't, by the way) you'll notice that even when the blog doesn't update, the feed does; that's because I got crafty and decided to let the feed update with my bookmarks. Admit it, some of you find those links useful, and it takes the pressure off me to come up with great content daily. (okay, so I need to find links more often to compensate, but since I seem to do that anyway...)
  5. If all else fails, find a new way to say what you said before! Not everyone reads your entire backlog, so why assume people will always be able to find what they're looking for? If you're like me, there may be topics you THINK you talk about all the time but have never written about, like buffers...
Almost without fail, the best articles I write and get feedback on are my buffer articles. It may just be because I force myself to write lots about them, but they still work. And even if you're not ready to give it a try, there's always a way to get more great articles... like leaving a comment below, for instance, or suggesting a new topic on the Skribit widget in the sidebar.

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At February 2, 2008 at 6:24 AM , Blogger Toni said...

Im finding it really hard to get inspired to write articles for my blog, given the choice of getting on with work or staring at a blank word doc then work always comes first. So any tips like this always help, thanks :)

At February 2, 2008 at 10:07 PM , Blogger JK said...

Very good article, I never thought about a buffer for my blogs. Thanks, I learned something new from this posting.

At February 3, 2008 at 7:09 AM , Blogger WildClips said...

Top stuff, thanks for sharing!


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