You know what I hate? I hate it when someone gives me advice that I don’t know how to follow.
It reminds me of the time I was standing there staring at my smoking car engine while on the phone with a friend of mine who knows a little something about cars. He says, “Oh, no problem. All you need to do is change out the spark plugs. You can do that in five minutes.”
Um, no. No, I cannot. He can do it in five minutes. I don’t even know what a spark plug looks like. I assume it looks like a cross between the plug on the end of my computer’s cable and a child’s Fourth of July sparkler, but I am probably dead wrong and I know it.
This is the long way of saying that last week I advised recycling an old blog post and making it new again as a way to get rid of the shameful inferior blog posts from your past.
I’m willing to bet some of you thought something like, “Yeah, sure. Thanks a lot. And how do I do that, exactly? Humph.” Let’s talk about that, shall we?
First of all, go to your archives. Browse around your old posts. Try not to cringe if they suck. Find a topic that still interests you. Maybe you wrote the most boring post ever on this topic before, but now you know a little more about it, you’ve got a good anecdote to use, and if you were talking about it with a friend, you know you’d have them in stitches.
Great. Now you have a topic.
Let’s figure out why it was so lousy the first time around so that we don’t make it lousy in your rewrite. Two lousy blog posts on the same topic is double lousy. Not good.
Here are some problems your old blog posts had, and here’s how to fix them:
You didn’t have a thesis.
Every blog post has a thesis. That’s just a fancy word for having an opinion around which your post revolves. My opinion for this post is that an old blog post can be made into a shiny new blog post. Everything in this post should incorporate that topic. (Except for the mechanic part. But that was an allegory, so it’s okay.) When you write your new post, come up with a coherent thesis first and make sure everything relates back to it.
You were boring.
This is a big one to avoid. Maybe your last post lacked humor, or insight, or handy information that would make people go, “Ooooh.” Maybe it was boring because you didn’t grab your reader right away with an impactful statement. Maybe it was boring because you didn’t know the value of adjectives or analogies back then. Figure out why it was boring. After you’ve written the new post, go over it several times looking for those same boring traits.
You were wrong.
This is kind of an embarrassing one, but sometimes you write a blog post before you have all the information on the subject. Now you know better, and you realize your old opinion was just flat-out wrong. The fun part is that acknowledging this in the new post makes you likeable. We all change our opinions when presented with further facts. ‘Fessing up about being wrong makes you human, and it also means you’re confident enough to admit your mistakes.
You didn’t say enough.
Sometimes an old post sucks because you stopped too soon. You didn’t put enough information in the content, or you didn’t think about a different angle on it. There are two ways to tackle this: either use the old information again and add new stuff to it, OR simply write a post solely focusing on the new stuff. Then link back to the old stuff so your readers get the full picture.
No one commented on it.
Sometimes you simply want to revive an old post because you know it was good, but not enough people were around at the time to discuss it. Now you have tons of regular commentators, and you want to hear what they have to say. If that’s the case, brush off that old post, tweak it for accuracy and any new information you have, polish up the grammar, and just repost it. Tell your readers you’d love to hear their thoughts. They’ll respond.
There you go. Five reasons your old post sucked, and what you can do about it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go change out my spark plugs.