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Need To Write Solid Blog Posts – Do This!

A Little Background

A few years ago, I read with interest the obituary of Bob Hope, one of the 20th Century’s legendary American entertainers. It was in the obituary section of The New York Times newspaper and you can read online here.

Bob Hope’s obituary was well written, reflecting a tremendous amount of research, covering his life and contributions spanning over seven decades. It discussed his work during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, entertaining American troops overseas, his career as vaudeville, theater and film, among his other detailed accomplishments. The obituary was supplemented with a picture slide show, audio sound bites, and a couple of film clips of his work in Hollywood.

Bob Hope died on Sunday, July 27, 2003 at the age of 100. On Monday morning, July 28, 2003, his obituary was featured on the front page of The New York Times newspaper and was read by thousands of its subscribers. Clearly the newspaper either had some really hard writers burning the midnight oil to research and write his obituary or, more likely, had Mr. Hope’s obit pre-written in anticipation of his eventual passing.

Well, it was pretty obvious which had occurred once you researched who the writer of the obituary was–a Mr. Vincent Canby. Vincent Canby was a prolific film and theater critic for the Times who, in October 2000, had himself passed away at the age of 76, nearly three years before Bob Hope. You can read Vincent Canby’s obituary here.

The Main Point

Now on to the main point of this post. What can we learn from how old-world media research and write obituaries that we can apply to our blog postings? If it isn’t obvious, it is that we, as bloggers, can pre-write many of our posts in anticipation of things that will likely happen sooner or later.

An Example–The Apple iPhone 3G

Taking a recent example, a tech blogger who blogs about cell phones would clearly have been able to anticipate that Apple Computer would eventually release an updated version of their world-famous iPhone. Well, this week, that event happened. Apple Computer released Version 2 of its best-selling phone, the iPhone 3G.

If you really wanted to be a cutting edge-, breaking news-type of blogger, you wouldn’t have waited until after Steve Jobs speech at WWDC 2008 to have started to write your blog posts.

Let’s pause there for a second. If you were a cool-as-ice, in-the-know tech blogger with the early “exclusives” on new products as they happen, what would you do (or, more accurately, what could you do) to make it appear as if you were a first to post, in-the-know, up-and-coming A-list blogger?

If that blogger were me, I would first make up a list of “likely” and “unlikely but wishlist” features that might appear on a new-generation Apple iPhone.

Among the likely:

Built-in GPS
Better battery power
Third-party applications
“3G” high-speed internet access
Lower price
Greater worldwide availability
Multiple carriers
Higher resolution camera
Ability to record video
Purchase quantity limits
Long-term contract required
Updated iPhone software
Enterprise server access
Integration with .Mac online services

Among the unlikely but wishlist:

Video phone chat
More than one carrier in the US
Built-in physical keypad
Wireless stereo headsets
Redesign of physical form factor
Multiple colors

While hindsight is always 20/20, let’s analyze the lists above as if we made them up well before the new iPhone 3G was revealed. What would we have been correct on? Wrong on? As it turns out, on the “likely” list, we were nearly right on everything except for the ability to record video and the lower price (phone cost was much lower but the monthly contract fee was $10 higher than currently). On the other hand, on the “unlikely but wishlist” list, none of the items were featured except for a minor redesign of the form factor and that there were two colors–black and white.

Having made those two lists and thought something about each feature well before the iPhone 3G actually debuted, I would have been well positioned to pre-write any of the following blog posts:

Ten Features Missing From the Latest iPhone
Five Disappointments of the iPhone 3G
The Ultimate iPhone 3G Guide
Three Reasons to Get/Not Get an iPhone 3G

Mix and a match the points in the lists above and you could have pre-written a number of blog posts. Just revise for reality (in case some of your predictions are wrong), add some illustrations, and release into the wild. Rinse and repeat; now you’ll be among the first to release breaking news blog posts about your favorite subjects as they happen.

A Couple of Other Examples

Politics–Prewrite posts about who’s going to win the US election in November. Prewrite why a particular candidate lost.
Sports–Prewrite posts about who’s going to win the US Open Golf Championship. Prewrite about the characteristics of the champion. Even though you don’t know who’s going to win, champions share some common characteristics–luck, determination, experience, etc.

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