Raiders of the Lost Archives

Digging through your blog archives is a trip down memory lane. You can look at posts and see more than just information. They’re milestones of your journey, markers that show where you were at that time in your life. Take a look back to see how you’ve grown.

Archives serve another purpose as well: brain fodder. Your archives are your personal vault of ideas.

Go ahead, put on your exploring shoes and jump in. Did you find a good one? I bet you did. It’s a real beauty – or at least you thought it was at the time. Now it probably looks like a train wreck and you’re thinking, “Oh my god… I hope no one reads this.”

Don’t worry. Your post is still good. Just look at it closely. Blow off the dust. Open it up. What do you see?

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

If you’re like James and me, you’re always expanding your knowledge. You probably know far more now than you did a year ago.

I bet that there is a post in your archives that shows just when you touched the tip of the iceberg of your current knowledge. At the time you wrote that old post, you understood some concepts well enough.

If you look at the same post now, you have a full year’s worth of knowledge or more to add to it. That’s a lot of new information to share with your readers.

Pick Apart Your Posts

You don’t need to rewrite your post. That’s even counter-productive, because you’re not using the opportunities you have to expand and share.

Sometimes you’ll find several new posts waiting to be written out of that single old one. Are there bullet points? Expand on them and make a series. Single out particularly important paragraphs and write a few posts based on the content.

Who doesn’t love a series of posts that share good information and knowledge?

Opposing Views

Play devil’s advocate on yourself. Pick a post from your archives – any one will do. You’ve certainly taken a standpoint position about your message. Your views are right there.

Choose the opposite side of the argument for the hell of it. Debate your own post in a new one. See where that leads you. It could be an interesting little journey.

You might even discover something new simply by seeing both sides of the coin.

Talk To Yourself

If your posts have been sitting in the archives for a while, you may not even recognize them because it’s been so long. It might seem like you’re reading the post for the first time.

That’s always a pleasant surprise, especially when you find yourself saying, “I wrote this? Damn, I’m good!”

Since you’re reading your content for the “first time”, why not make a comment on it? Look at the comments readers left. Can you add more value? What more would you say? I’m sure it all hasn’t been said.

Comments to Posts

Speaking of comments, there are often hidden posts right in your comment section. Your readers and blog community are a prime source of material.

You may have been caught up in the conversation at the time and missed something important. Could you address it now in a new post? Were any questions asked that you never answered? Go ahead; answer them now.

After a nice vacation from blogging, I’m feeling a little rusty with my pen. I was too busy drawing to even think of writing posts. I won’t be rusty for long, though – I have some digging to do, thanks to a good friend of mine who reminded me that archives are excellent sources of inspiration.

Before I do, though, how about a little contest? We’ll give $25 to the person who figures out which post from our archives inspired this post!

Post by Agent X

Agent X is the name many mysterious and intriguing people take on when they guest post at our site. Their mission is to slip in like a thief in the night, leave you with entertaining, valuable and useful content, and slip away again - without getting caught.

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  1. Looking at my old archives and I rarely said “Damn, I’m good.” Maybe I have different expectations now, and looking back I discovered how silly or immature I was. Or maybe I’m not narcissistic. 😉

    I do like to view my old posts and use it as a reference. Expanding on my previous views is actually a good idea for future posts, and I’ve done it. Some people may not find it as much fun. But what’s the point blogging if I can’t re-use or expand my own ideas?

    Now, I just wish I have references to the days when I was in high school…

    Rudy’s last blog post..Dance With My Father

  2. Harry,

    Looking back is everything I’m doing right now, and it ain’t all pretty, but I agree, it does stir up new ideas. There are lots of ideas I thought of expanding at the time and didn’t in order to shorten the post, or that got comments going when I didn’t think they would. That’s a great idea to get inspired by the comments section, too.

    Ooh, a contest! Fun! Do I have time to play…. hmm…



    Kelly’s last blog post..OPEN 24/7, Just for You

  3. Was this too easy, or did I get it wrong?

    I had it bookmarked. It was a good one.

    Kelly’s last blog post..OPEN 24/7, Just for You

  4. @ Kelly – *BUZZ* Wrong, unfortunately. Though that’s a good one and in the same vein. Heheh, now it’s our turn to drive you nuts.

    @ Rudy – I’m with you. I avoid looking back because much of my early, early content is pretty horrible.

    When I was reading this post I thought, “Damn.” Not because the thought of digging back in the archives for ideas was something new to me , but because of the many ways Harry suggested how to used archives. It was pretty cool.

  5. James,

    Deja vu all over again!

    If you had any idea how nuts I already am today, you’d be kinder. Besides, I never drove Harry nuts at all. Just you.

    Just one more peek through my bookmarks before I go put on the suit…

    Kelly’s last blog post..OPEN 24/7, Just for You

  6. Ooh, this was a fine one and relates well:

    If nothing else you may get an interesting link post going in the comments without having to do all that tedious linking yourself….

    Kelly’s last blog post..OPEN 24/7, Just for You

  7. @ Kelly – *grin* keep looking.

  8. Having only been a blogger since March, none of my posts are really that old yet, but I do look at them once and awhile. I am amazed that readers are looking at them too. It’s always interesting to me to see what they have read that day and how far back they dig to read them. I guess I just expected that people would be lazy and only read the one on the top.

    But then when I first discovered you guys, I spent an entire morning reading everything in your archives and on your site so now that I think about it, I don’t know why I think other people would be so different.

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..In the Dirt

  9. Good to see you back, Harry! I’m somewhat in Wendi’s category where I don’t quite have a full year’s worth of posts in archives (and what I do have is split across three blogs…) Still, good ideas!

    Mark Dykeman’s last blog post..The bass has got the social beat

  10. Ahh, a personal archive dig…great idea. A task just made for Indiana Jones…let me get my hat and whip…gotta paint this morning while it is cooler outside but hm, maybe a quick look through yours as well……

    Janice Cartier’s last blog post..Chocolate Silk Coming Up


    How about this one?

    Janice Cartier’s last blog post..Chocolate Silk Coming Up

  12. Okay, because I’m a sucker:
    Harry, how could I not know you drove carriages in Philly? I love taking those rides with every single guest who comes to visit me! You have just become even cooler than you already were.
    (And I thought I’d read all of your JCMEs already.)
    Another blog vacation? Slackers.

    How many posts have you written that relate to this one? Must. Stop. Looking.

    It’s a curse! Where’s little Pen, I have to reverse this spell.



    Kelly’s last blog post..OPEN 24/7, Just for You

  13. @Rudy: I’m not narcissistic by any means either, but there are some posts that manage to catch me by surprise.

    @Kelly: The post that inspired me to do this one definitely made me go “Ew…I wrote that?” Not pretty at all.

    @Wendy: That’s always a problem with blogs and one reason we switched our format to a magazine style. Many people do tend to read the most recent posts and forget about the archives.

    @Mark: Hey! How goes it?

    @Janice: I didn’t start out with the intention to get people to dig through our archives, but it looks like that’s working too!

  14. HA! This is great. This morning I thought, Crap, I haven’t blogged in a few days and I feel completely uninspired. But I didn’t want to write some lame excuse to let me off the hook for a while and I was wracking my brains for what I could write. I ended up on Brett’s blog and his post today gave me fodder, just as Harry’s “once upon a bloggy night” post did earlier… Then I came here, and lo and behold, I’ve just read a post that answered me as though I’d asked my question out loud. Sheesh. I knew you guys were good, but ESP, too??

    This is getting bookmarked. I know I’ll need to look it up now and then.

    Clever contest, btw! 🙂

    steph’s last blog post..?Whatever You Wish for You Keep? (dream meme)

  15. Those aren’t them… keep looking guys…

  16. Now I am a dork. The ether brought it back. GRRRRRR.

    Kelly’s last blog post..OPEN 24/7, Just for You

  17. @Kelly: Nope, not any of those. And yes, I was one of those drivers. Best job I ever had 🙂

    @Janice: Nope. Good guess, but no.

  18. @Steph: Thank you and you’re welcome!

  19. How long ago? Is it possible that I HAVE SEEN a Man With(out) Pen, without even knowing I was touching future coolness?

    Kelly’s last blog post..OPEN 24/7, Just for You

  20. @Kelly: That’s a good possibility 😉

  21. Excuse me while I go warble about memories, misty, water-colored memories….

    –Deb’s last blog post..MM: Semi-Colon

  22. Oh, I remember, you were the cute one I was wishing I was free to talk to. 😉

    Unicorns make people feel funny in hindsight:

    Drving your motorbike?

    Since you said it makes you think eww, I feel like I’m picking on you by trying to guess!

    Meeting, must go. No more obsessing.

    Kelly’s last blog post..OPEN 24/7, Just for You

  23. @ Janice: Nope, not that one either

    @ Deb: Ooo…are you serenading me now? Thank you.

    @Kelly: Yup, that would have been me 😉 Good guesses, but no.

  24. I really like the idea of hidden posts in your own comment threads. I’ve used that approach before.

    It’s also a way to do some real link-love by highlighting interesting things some of your readers have said that help flesh out your own post.

    Jesse Hines’s last blog post..The Writer’s Energy Drink

  25. Welcome back James and Harry … and you don’t seem rusty at all to me!


    The Freelance Writer’s Blog’s last blog post..2 Free Effective Marketing Tips for Online Writers

  26. Propagandroid says:

    I’m betting it was:

    Halfway through reading the archives, I realized…hey, they just pulled my strings! 🙂

    This was a well-timed post, too, as I just got through doing a 50-post retrospective on my own archives!

  27. Propagandroid says:

    I’m betting it was:

    Halfway through reading the archives, I realized…hey, they just pulled my strings! 🙂

    This was a well-timed post, too, as I just got through doing a 50-post retrospective on my own archives!

    (Feel free to delete the “in moderation” comment)

  28. Propagandroid says:

    Oh crud, sorry for the double post guys.

    Anyway, reading through your archives was excellent and made me realize how much I need to go back and really focus on some of those old posts. Many of them are now bookmarked for later reading!

  29. @Prop: Good guess, but not it 😉

  30. I like the idea of going back, rereading what you’ve said in the past, and looking for ways to add to it with the knowledge you’ve acquired since writing the initial post. I also agree that the comments section of your blog can provide lots of inspiration. Although I’m relatively new to blogging, I have a post called “75 Things Every Woman Should Master” (actually, about 70 of those are things men should learn to master as well). I’m actually thinking of writing an individual post expanding on each of the 75 points I included in that post. So that should give me material for what, aout 4 months 🙂

    Marelisa’s last blog post..Get Out the Balloons – Choice for New Blog of the Week

  31. As my writing improves, sometimes I want to go back to old posts and see what improvements can be made. I tend to choose against this though, is it really worth it? I got new posts I have to write!

    Bamboo Forest’s last blog post..Top 7 Things I’ve Learned about Blogging

  32. Welcome back James and Harry!
    I hope you enjoyed your break.

    And what a great come back! Getting all this interest in your archives (even though that wasn’t your original intent) as well as producing a thoughtful post.

    No, you are definitely not rusty.
    Good to see you back.

    zania’s last blog post..Can Freelance Writers Blog Effectively?

  33. @Babmoo: (hehe, still chuckling over that typo). Sometimes it is worth it to revisit old posts. I’m not saying do it every day, but once in a while it’s nice.

    @Zania: Thanks! No, it wasn’t my original intent, but it’s kind of cool the way it worked out.

    @Janice: Nope. Oh, I had maple syrup yesterday and thought of you (still haven’t finished what you sent me!)

  34. @Harry- Aughh, that’s nice. I hope it ‘s good stuff.

    hmm. One more look……then I have to get back to the silks…

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Chocolate Silk Morning Update


    Gotta go paint. 🙂

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Chocolate Silk Morning Update

  36. DING DING DING DING DING!! We have a winner!

    Janice, congrats. After a hard search, 365 was indeed the one. Shoot me your PayPal via the contact form to collect your well-deserved prize!

    Cheers everyone and thanks for playing!

  37. Woot for Janice!

    Thanks everyone, this was a lot of fun today!

  38. Oh, hooray for Janice. Nicely played.

    I did have fun reading around. It’s a good way to encourage deeper reading than just “you’re only as good as your last post” reading.

    Must go fix more links now. Half done with this hideous chore.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Road Trip: Guest Post at Just Creative Design

  39. PenMen,

    Kelly is scaring me. Link fixing….yuck,,,,euwwwww..spat…oh free wordpress…I may be here forever……quaking in my boots……

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..In the Dirt

  40. The last few weeks I’ve received a few comments on an old article I wrote about business structures – mostly commentators who have personal questions about how they should structure their business.

    I was thinking of writing a part 2 of that post. This article has inspired me to actually do it.

    Thanks Harry. Some good suggestions here. I really like the idea of playing devil’s advocate. I love thinking in odd directions, even if it doesn’t make sense. It allows your brain to make weird connections to dissimilar things which often time explodes a creative idea in your head.

    ….yes, my head explodes sometimes 😉

  41. Me too, John. Me too.

  42. Wendi,

    It’s worth it, because the new blog rocks. Still makes Motorhead cry (Brett? It still does, right?), and my own tears will all be a memory soon.

    Tweak, tweak…



    Kelly’s last blog post..Road Trip: Guest Post at Just Creative Design

  43. Woo Hoo …happy dance , happy dance….and I didn’t even have to fight that nut graf exposing Viking for it…d’ya hear that Brett ????

    That was my last guess of the day. AND I got the silks painted, and cookies made…not a bad Tuesday…the boys are back in town, the boys are back in town….

    Paypal thing coming at you.

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Chocolate Silk Morning Update

  44. “Nut graf exposing Viking”—LOL LOL LOL!

    Technically, a good thing, in writing terms. But all I get is an image of Grape-Nuts.

    The silks are lovely! Very cool for a hot day.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Road Trip: Guest Post at Just Creative Design

  45. @ Kelly- Ahhh, signaling the arrival no doubt of Bacchus…still doing happy dance…oh and pouring celebratory vino.

    ( Thanks for the kind words on the silks. )

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Chocolate Silk Morning Update

  46. Cosmopolitan in my hand, slowing work to a crawl….

    For tonight, you are “Dances-With-Chocolate-Scarves.”

    Boys, my favorite things that I read today were these two:

    Very cute in the rear-view mirror. I’d read them before but poking through so many posts today they struck me. That, and your adorable comments sections pre-December or so.

    “Everybody’s so different, I haven’t changed.” —Joe Walsh 😉

    Kelly’s last blog post..Road Trip: Guest Post at Just Creative Design

  47. @Kelly: Sort of like poking through someone’s old family album, huh?

  48. Yeah. Only without the photos. He he.

    Come see my album, darlin’. It misses your eyeballs.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Road Trip: Guest Post at Just Creative Design

  49. Kelly- just read your very “quirky ” guest post. Way to go. Loved it. Would love to see more on this issue.

    Merci, James and Harry. Phew, sip, sip, fun day. 🙂

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..Chocolate Silk Morning Update

  50. Janice,

    I don’t usually sweat posts, but that one just about killed me. The pressure of wanting it to be just so for my buddy, and getting the topic exactly how I wanted it, too. The one I’m doing for him next is… related, but much lighter.

    “Quirky” cracked me up, but it’s probably me, eh?


    Kelly’s last blog post..Road Trip: Guest Post at Just Creative Design

  51. Meryl Evans says:

    Been trying to dig in my archives as I know I had a few posts I’ve been proud of in the past eight years. Therein lies the problem… I have too many dusty entries to muddle through. I need to though. So I can repost them with a fresh spin, update, etc.

    Maybe someone who didn’t know me when I originally posted it will find nugget if I bring it send it forward to the future. With so many blogs, who has time to look at archives? The only time I look at a blogger’s archives is to find something on a topic or an old post I remember.

    Meryl Evans’s last blog post..Telling the Hard Truths of the Writing Life

  52. Meryl,

    That is my pet peeve, the way fine blog writing is being seen as throwaway. “Only as good as your last post” thinking.

    That’s why my list of blogs to follow is very, very slim, like the number of magazines I read. So I can give them all proper attention. Instead of always looking for a new blog, I do like to dig around in archives. My faves I may have read end to end more than once, like a good book.

    Bringing old nuggets back to the top of people’s minds definitely makes new fans (though after 8 years I’m sure you don’t need me to say that!), whether through links or through fresh postings. I blog the way I speak—always referencing another conversation or something that happened a while back.

    I’d bet after all those posts you have plenty where you have a different point of view now!

    Until later,


    Kelly’s last blog post..Road Trip: Guest Post at Just Creative Design

  53. Late to the party and off topic again…well, at least I’ve managed at least one of the two on other posts. 🙂 I have a question about blog archives – specifically, commenting on old posts. I don’t have blog archives of my own to read yet, but find myself reading a lot of old posts on other blogs (like Men with Pens :)) to “catch up” on all I’ve missed. I come across great posts that have me giggling, bobbing my head in agreement, or dying to express an alternate point of view only to realize that the last comment was posted last year (or years before).

    Geek that I am, I’ve even searched for comment etiquette, but haven’t found what I need to know. So, if comments aren’t closed, is it fair game, or do I just take my ideas and go away? How old is too old?

    April, Chief Cook & Bottle Washer’s last blog post..Ego. What a Mind-trip!

  54. @ April – We see everything that happens (muahahahaa) so if you comment on a post from a year back, we know. So do all the other people who had Subscribe to Comments turned on, so everyone has the potential of getting the conversation going again.

    Do they? Most often, no. But you know what? It’s still worth dropping a comment, because we DO see it – and because someone who comes along after you may see it too. Pretty cool, huh?

  55. Thanks, James. I’ve just been moving on to the next post/blog instead of commenting. I hadn’t thought about the people that might stumble across a post the same way I did, or “subscribe to comments”. I just figured that I was already talking to myself in cyberspace on my own blogs and didn’t need to do it on somebody else’s.

    You’ve unleashed a monster (now it’s my turn to muhooahahahaha). Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

    April, Chief Cook & Bottle Washer’s last blog post..Ego. What a Mind-trip!

  56. Excellent pointers, Harry. In the not-too-distant past I often found myself looking back at those first blog articles I published, thinking, “Oh boy, better put these back in the ‘draft’ archives!”

    David Airey’s last blog post..The value of trustworthy subcontractors

  57. @David: What a cool surprise this is! Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I suffered from the same kind of shock when I went back through ours 🙂

  58. You’re very welcome, Harry! I hope everything’s good with you.

    David Airey’s last blog post..The value of trustworthy subcontractors


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