Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > The Web/Virtual Worlds/Social Networking

📄 Contents

  1. Turning an Idea for a Blog into Blog Posts
  2. Drinking from the Information Fire Hose: Using the Internet to Power Your Posts
  3. Writing with Search Engines in Mind
  4. Summary
  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Drinking from the Information Fire Hose: Using the Internet to Power Your Posts

"But what should I write about?" I'm asked that over and over again, and sometimes when I suggest topics I even get "Oh, no one would want to read about that." No, you're right, I suggested it because I want to see you write really bad stuff (sarcasm).

In seriousness, getting that spark of inspiration is something that is hard to explain. The bolt from the blue does happen, just not often. I get most of my ideas from other people who intersect with me. Sometimes it's an electronic intersection; sometimes it's in real life (IRL). The key I've found is when you become inspired, don't dismiss it. Run with it for a bit in your head, on paper, or electronically. Just see where it takes you.

Now, let's get to those intersection points.

Other Bloggers

I can't speak for everyone's friends, but I am lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the most brilliant, creative, and scary-smart people I've ever known. Looking at the things they create, share, and link to always gets something going in my head.

I talk more specifically about building your online community in Chapter 4, "Building Community," but within your community there are always people who send you interesting links and such directly. Many of them inspire you with a comment they leave on your blog. The real great stuff from you often comes from all the other "stuff" they do online. Bloggers call all that stuff, when it is all put together, a lifestream . I cover building a blog from your lifestream in Chapter 10, "Creating a Lifestreaming Blog." For now, just visualize a website where everything someone puts online can be read—pictures, shared playlists, shared links, posts, and updates from Twitter. Yes, that's a lot of information.

Let's start small though. My two favorite ways to get inspiration from the community (and just small segments of larger lifestreams) are Twitter and Shared items from Google Reader.

Twitter is a microblogging service where people share "tweets" of 140 characters or fewer with people who follow them (like being friends on Facebook) and read the tweets of the people they follow. I follow and am followed by several thousand people right now.

I read the tweets from the people I follow in an application called TweetDeck (www.tweetdeck.com) that enables me to segment people into groups (like Friends, News, and Folks) so I can read more and not miss something that is important to me (see Figure 3.7).

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7 Organizing tweets using TweetDeck.

So along with the wit and news my friends share, I also get updates from sources like CNN, CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), and a myriad of tech websites. Combined, this makes for a lot of potential inspiration, but it doesn't end there. Google Reader is the leading RSS reader and has a function where you can share articles you like as a public list. Like Twitter, people follow your shared items list and vice versa. The larger and more diverse the number of people you follow, the more varied kinds of articles you will see. Figure 3.8 gives you a look at a small portion of the shared items I've received in one day.

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8 A look at my shared items in Google Reader for one day.

It doesn't matter what time of day or night, what the topic is, and so on, the community of people I follow and who follow me as well are a constant source of inspiration and support. So, if your community doesn't inspire you, come visit mine, we'd love to meet you.

"Real" World

Contrary to popular belief, geeks do have lives and do venture outside. Fine, geeks often carry laptops, cameras, iPhones/Blackberries, but they're out in the "real" world. As you would expect, the real world can always provide something to write about. Going to a conference, a store, the local coffee place, and even walking down the street can provide you with much needed fodder. If you aren't inspired by real life, you need to get out more.

Geeks like to share what they know and have learned. To do this, they like to hang out together and generally geek out. In Vancouver, they have regular meetups for bloggers and people interested in PR and social media, and photowalks to just wander around and take pictures. There are even Tweetups, which are meetups organized through Twitter. Often, meetups are purely social, just time after work in a pub. But meetups, like Third Tuesday, bring in guest speakers to talk about blogging, social media, and society. These semi-structured social times are only part of the inspiration the real world brings.

  • The world around you is inspiring—remember to open your eyes.

How about a good or bad encounter with someone at a store? Did you get awesome, over-the-top service or something that makes you want to never go there again? How about just something you see on the street that strikes you funny. Take a picture of it with your cell phone if you can, and use that as the seed of a post.

The world around you is inspiring—remember to open your eyes.

Reader Comments

Chapter 4 goes more in depth with comments, but here is a short bit on how comments inspire me and my writing. As a reminder, part of blog posts and blogging is the capability of people to leave comments on the posts you've written. These comments can be everything from "That was awesome" to "You're completely wrong!" to "Yes, but have you thought about this angle..." and all of these can be sources of inspiration for your writing.

Sometimes there is nothing more inspiring than people reading your post and taking it in a whole new direction. It's very gratifying to me when someone reads what I wrote and then sees something else in the post that is more interesting than what I wrote. When that happens, and it will, build on it by writing a follow-up post. You might even think about asking the commenter to contribute to the post. This kind of writing symbiosis is one of the greatest parts of blogging. When your readers feel that they are also contributors to your blog, it only serves to strengthen your larger community. You also start to build a loyal following who will cheer you on when you get that book deal!

Great comments like that are amazing gifts. Don't waste them!

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020