Although the title captures exactly the theme I wanted to write about today, I fear it may attract some visitors who were expecting some other content.
If you were looking for blogs about space, then you might find Top 10 Space Blogs, by Dave Mosher, science journalist, blogger and producer for the Discovery Channel's space site, Discovery Space is more what you are looking for. You can also find Space Blogs in the Yahoo! Directory covering the latest space missions, manned and unmanned and the future of NASA, space exploration, and technology
Here we will explore how space can improve your blogs. If the title rings a vague bell, it calls to mind nostalgically, Pigs in Space, which was a recurring sketch from The Muppet Show by Jim Henson. Apart from the slight resemblance between the words 'pig' and 'blog', there is no other connection.
So what has space to do with blogs. We will discuss three types of space, each of which in its own way can be a powerful stimulus to the effectiveness of your blogs. These three types of space are:
- Head Space
- Competitive Space, and
- White Space
The starting idea for this blog post was that it should be about white space. Surprisingly few authors use headings in their blogs. This is surprising because it helps readers to better understand the topics that are being discussed. Even more importantly such headings are important parameters in the search engine algorithms. By using headings, you may materially improve the chance that the blog post will rank highly in the keyword searches. It was only in considering how best to tackle that topic that the subject exploded somewhat to cover all these other 'space' aspects.
Wikipedia suggests that Headspace may refer to:
- Headspace (firearms), a chamber measurement
- Headspace (album), by Canadian rock band Pulse Ultra, or
- Headspace (band), an English indie rock group
I must admit I thought it was used more generally to mean the space between your eyes, where you do all that thinking. This is the first important space to use when you come to develop your blog ideas. You may not be aware of the little known Welford's Law. This states:
Your best blog posts are never what you intended to write in the first place.
Of course that is not true if you are about to create one of those works of art, that merely lists some great places, or animals, or objects, or sports events, or architecture with eye-catching images. You will put in your best effort and hope that whoever looks at the final blog post finds it a pleasing experience.
You should realize that this is not a visitor-centric approach. It does not start with a consideration of what type of visitors the web page is being designed for. To that extent, the web page will be less effective than if you had designed it keeping the needs and wishes of the targeted visitors in mind.
If you wish to write a blog post that will satisfy a particular type of visitor, then you must adopt a different approach. With a particular topic in mind, you must think through all of the related aspects that such a visitor might be interested to see. One way of recording all of these possibilities is in a Mind Map. For example for this particular blog post, thinking around the White Space concept, we quickly came up with the topics shown in the following Mind Map.
If the Mind Map approach is new to you, then I can thoroughly recommend you download the free application, FreeMind. It is very intuitive to use and I find it an excellent way to capture possible ideas, select or reject from these possibilities and then organize the final choices into a logical flow of ideas. The quality of your blog posts will be markedly higher if you put in some extra thinking like this.
Extra thinking is good but it can only cover what you know already. Has this topic already been extensively covered by other people? Will this turn out to be a me-too blog post. The next exploration you should do is of the space that has been covered by others, your competitors on this topic.
A Google search of your title if you have chosen it well, is a good start to identify the competition. If the topic has been discussed widely and thoroughly, then you are probably best advised to drop this topic and think of another. However it may be that if the other writers have all taken a particular point of view, then you may wish to take issue with their position. Perhaps you can see an extension of their ideas which will be valuable. Truly this analysis of the competition of ideas can be a make-or-break process for your blog post.
In addition it is often useful to give references with appropriate links, since it is believed this can improve rankings in keyword searches. At the very least, you may find that you have created a useful colleague who becomes aware of your work.
At this point by combining your own thoughts on the topic with the best that has been done by others, you have the very best material to present in your final blog post.
Many blog authors seem to neglect the visual aspect of the blog posts they produce. At the worst, the visual appearance causes an almost instantaneous rejection and a flight to other more pleasing web pages.
On the other hand, if you present the material in a pleasing way, it will also help the reader to be immediately aware of the interlinking of ideas. Headings are an important tool here. Using the Mind Map approach advocated in the Head Space section, the flow of ideas has already been organized and the headings should be immediately apparent.
Other ways in which you can put white space around your content for better comprehension is to put information in lists rather than leaving the same content in run-on sentences. It is useful to allow the reader to pace themselves as they read through the full blog post. Appropriate images also provide a way of indicating the natural breaks in the discussion.
It is quite clear that many blog writers do not put in the extra thinking that is implied by considering these three spaces. It is a real shame, since the thinking set out above is not difficult and will certainly multiply the effectiveness of almost any blog post.
One thought on “Blogs In Space”
Barry, this is a very thought-provoking post.
In regard to Competitive Space, I agree that it’s important to link out to other bloggers who’ve written on the same subject. Like you, I’ve made some good connections that way.
I write a weekly round-up of interesting blog posts, and I’ve met several other bloggers who came to see what I’d said about them.
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