Think Like a Farmer to Grow a Good Blog

cropsI come from a people and place where farming has been part job and part culture for as long as I can remember. Yes, I sold out and moved to the big city, and I am not without a little guilt about that. Particularly since my personal philosophy is more grounded in driving a combine than pushing paper around.

To keep some small grip on my past and my sanity, I read a few farming publications, Farmgate being one of them.

As we have talked about seeding a blog with good content, nurturing the conversations that build on such content, growing an internet presence and harvesting the bounty thereof, I have thought many times that blogging is not unlike farming in the planning and execution stages.

Yesterday, Farmgate post an article entitled Are You Planting for Today, or for the Future?

It makes many good points that apply to blog building just as much as farming. Here are some quotes followed by a discussion of how these concepts might apply to blog building:

If you make the change to more soybean acres, are you doing it ““because that is the thing to do?” ” Are you doing it because energy and production costs have risen for corn? And if you are making the change, are you trying to escape costs, and let revenue fall where it may? Are you looking at the end of the marketing year, as well as the start of the production season?

When we decide what topics we want to cover and how we want to cover them, we have to look beyond the here and now. We have to think about how things will look, and sell, later. Once we’ve written hundreds of posts, what will our blog look like. Will there by discernible theme? Will there be sufficient topic rotation to keep the ideas fresh and useful? Will there be a market for what we write? How many other bloggers are out there growing the very same thing? Can they produce the same crops more easily? Are they closer to the relevant markets, such that their transportation costs are less?

I am a visual person. From back in my sports days to my music days to my lawyering days and my writing days, I like to imagine the outcome of my actions. It’s a cliche I suppose, but it comes naturally to me and I do it all the time. I visualize my blog as rotating fields in the ground that is my part of the blogosphere, with a healthy crop of articles, ideas, conversation and humor. Too much of one makes the ground less fertile. Sometimes when nothing grows in one of the fields I let it lie empty for a while.

The educated folks at several universities in the Cornbelt want you to consider what will likely be complexion of the market, before you make any final and unalterable decisions by putting seed in the ground.

What sounds good in theory may not work all that well when put into practice. Things like breaking news topics, blogospats that disrupt the conversation flow, conferences that demand the attention of attendees and a horde of other weather-like factors affect how well your crops grow. You can’t always predict these things, but you have to plan for them by taking the long view. If you write a good post and it gets lost in the mix because of a big story, it will get discovered later. And even if it doesn’t, you’ve got other crops in other fields.

While planting decisions remain with the producer, those decisions should be made with the help of knowing the potential marketing outcome of the decision, and not just information based on production costs.

As I said in my 10/90 post, how easy or hard something is to write is not an accurate predictor of what will get noticed in the blogosphere. To get sold there needs to be a market. So what if I wrote one lengthy post about mobile technology, others have entire blogs full of more knowledgable and better written posts. You have to take the long view.

You lose some crops and sometimes you have bad spells (like this past weekend, when the blogosphere was a slow as freeze dried molasses), but over time good planning, good planting and good crop management will lead to good production.

It’s as true in the blogosphere as it is on the farm.