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how do you blog? blogging checks and balances

I was working with a client who I do marketing, blog and writing consulting for, and we were working on her blog writing strategy when she asked me, ‘But what are the rules for blogging?’

She’s a life coach with an incredible family story who is working on a blog about/surrounding her upcoming book about coaching.

It’s important to note that we had already had an involved conversation about how she could find a voice that was conversational, not preachey, yet still full of power and information. (I couldn’t understand why that was confusing and difficult.) But seriously, my advice to her on this point was to find the person to write to that makes her feel really good, that loves/likes her unconditionally, whose relationship holds no negative emotional charge (meaning do NOT pick your spouse or your mother), who supports her, who’s a huge fan, who also calls her on her shit, who brings out her most incredible self. She has to pick that ‘you’ that she’ll be writing to. For the sake of this post and to avoid confusion, let’s call her ‘Jane’.

So, when she asked me about the rules, I told her, ‘You need checks and balances.’

As I see it, she has 4 perspectives tugging at her pen. She can’t, and shouldn’t, keep them equally balanced at all times, but her goal is to make sure that no matter what she writes, each of these corners is okay, taken care of, considered.

Here’s the plan:

  • Make 4 cards, one for each perspective. In this case: 1. Jane. 2. Book Mission. 3. Personal Life and Family. 4. Coaching Work.
  • Under each heading, write the definition of each perspective, the gist of what each perspective stands for, perhaps their boundaries. (Examples below)
  • Tape them up in front of your computer.
  • As you write, remember each perspective and make sure they’re okay with what you’re writing, that you meet each of their standards and requirements.

Here’s an idea of what those cards look like, all flushed out –

  1. Jane: Confidence, energy, humor, total support, real connection, authenticity, acceptance.
  2. Book Mission: to help people with life in general, decisions, challenges, time management, relationships, balance, etc.
  3. Life: children, husband, safety, personal boundaries (ie. Little Rosie doesn’t want her middle school drama plastered all over her mom’s blog, but the realtime negotiations of curfews or friend choices is fair game.)
  4. Coaching: Coaching Philosophies, mantras, lamposts, rules, ethics.

If you really need reigning in, you can add photos to each card to hold you accountable.

What do you think? Any other ideas on staying on track, on topic, on mission, on post, on blog…???

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Ron Miller says:

    Hi Julie:
    Interesting post. I think this is good advice for someone who has never blogged before.

    I write about technology so I try to confine my posts to technology-related topics, but beyond my technology rule, I don’t have many others. I write about whatever catches my fancy as I move along throughout the day. Often an idea just pops into my mind and I pretty much have to write about it. Its like scratching an itch.

    But for a person who has never written a blog before and who needs structure and guidance, I think you’ve done an excellent job of framing it in a fashion that makes it easy for her to get into the frame of mind to blog and to stay focused on what’s important to that blogger.

    Beyond that, it’s about writing what you are passionate about. If you have a genuine passion for what you are doing, then it comes out in your writing. If you are just writing a blog because you think you should to market your skills and your books, I think that will come out too.

    By Ron Miller Blog

  • I start each blog by defining the categories before I’ve written any entries. Over time, the categories do get some adjustments, one category breaks into two, or one goes away, or a new one appears. For me, having that category list at the start keeps me on track and focused on the blog’s purpose.

    I have a post-it note on my monitor with the category list to keep them in my mind while I”m doing other work. This way, when an article or blog entry I’m reading gives me a idea for a blog entry to write, I can bookmark it and add the category to the bookmark.

    I love your idea of creating a card for each perspective. I like the way it gives more details and more depth to each potential writing area. Great idea, Julie!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Great points, Ron…we also had a huge talk about authenticity – cited in the part about finding her voice. I completely agree – whatever you put into your writing, people will take it out on their end – sales, sharing, desperation, joy. Don’t we see that all the time. Writing is a tangible thing.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Charlene – I like that category idea – we aren’t too far away from each other here…thanks for sharing.

  • Ron Miller says:

    What Charlene is talking about in Content Management parlance is building a taxonomy first. It’s a good idea and something I wish I had done when I start blogging back in 2003. Instead, the categories found me and it’s too late to go back and get it under control without a lot of work. You are thinking like a librarian and that’s a good thing because it provides a structure an organization to your blogs from the get-go.


  • I agree this is really good advice to give someone who hasn’t blogged before. The idea of writing to a person is interesting, I’ve never thought of it that way but can see how it would help.

  • Brandice says:

    I love the idea of writing to a person! I seem to always be searching for that tone, and thinking of that person will really help me. Thanks!

  • Julie Roads says:

    I’m so glad, Brandice…and check that other link in this post because I wrote an entire post just on that topic (featuring George Clooney)…enjoy and let me know how it works out!

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