Have you found your enthusiasm is waning? Are your traffic stats plateauing or even showing a downward trend? When you get comments are they from the usual suspects? Feel like you are living in an echo chamber with no new ideas or perspectives?
When blogging becomes routine it is very easy to get stuck in a rut. You read the same old blogs, talk to the same people, write the same posts and stories about the same or similar topics. If you do what you have always done you will always get the same results. It’s time to mix it up a bit.
Decide to be different
In some cases it only takes the thought that you would like to make a change that causes the change. It’s a little bit quantum, heh. Just intending to do things differently could make all the difference.
There definitely is a comfort zone to blogging. In the early days of a new blog everything is new. Each post could feel like you are breaking new personal ground. After a while though things become familiar and that is when there is a danger of the familiar turning into the stale. Repeating themes can be a good thing, when you start sounding like a broken record it is time to take action.
First the easy stuff. Remember when you started your blog you went out and found the best sources of information? Do that again, find fresh new sources. Go to technorati, digg, del.icio.us, et al. New websites launch every day, if you have not been consciously looking they might have passed you by. In many niches it is so easy to only notice the a-listers when actually a lot of the original thinking is not in those echelons.
Use different search terms and decide to look for websites that deviate from your normal viewing habits also. This is not an exercise in more-the-merrier, you are trying to change the flavour not just improve or increase it. If you really struggle here is a radical idea; ditch your OPML and start from scratch. You might be surprised at how markedly different it turns out.
Go to the library or book store and browse the isles, and not just your favourites. You might be inspired by new topics or find a great brand new book for your existing ones with a new perspective.
Different blogs, different strokes
One of the good things about having multiple blogs is you are forced to be exposed to different themes, topics, social groups, etc. On my personal blog one of my favourite topics is all things related to Canada. Because of my “canadian connections” I also see news items that relate to my other blogging topics. For example I spotted a story about a photographer being stopped by police for photographing the Calgary LRT, this was a perfect story for my DSLR photography blog. These are things others in my niches are less likely to see, especially if they are only ever focussed on their particular niche for inspiration. Perhaps starting a new blog could freshen up your old one?
As Nick says, it doesn’t hurt to drift off-topic once in a while. When you do though, for best results make an effort to relate it somehow to your niche. Also make sure you tag your post very effectively. This will cast your net to not just a wider audience but a whole new audience where you ordinarily would not be on the radar. Try and think what different, but related, audiences would like to see. Put yourself in their shoes.
Change of viewpoint
It might be all it takes is to think with a different point of view. What would your niche look like in a different geography, or up-market or down-market. How would your topic be perceived by someone with less experience or more experience? Are there biases in your niche that could be explored from the other side of an argument? In some cases there might be dogma that can be investigated for their validity.
If all else fails you could consider bringing in fresh blood. Another brain and another voice might be just what your blog needs to keep fresh. New people have different ways of looking at things and their own ideas for what to write about and how things should be done. You don’t need to agree on everything, in fact it could be an advantage if you don’t.
Those are my ideas for how you can keep your blog fresh, how do you keep your blog feeling original, fresh and new?