Like the Barenaked Ladies sang, it’s all been done, but you still have to come up with blog posts and presentations. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Understand that you’re working a 2-year plan. If you wanna come up with a bunch of totally disconnected, unrelated, throwaway blog posts, then just put a bunch of Books Online page titles in a hat, and draw a different one out every week. Done.
But if, on the other hand, you want to have a reputation as an expert, then you need to pick the topic and focus on it.
I’m not saying every blog post has to sound like a broken record repeating the same exact topic over and over – variety is great – but understand that if you want readers to recognize you, your blog posts need to be recognizable.
Step 2: Write a profile for your ideal reader. Read my post on How to Write a Conference Abstract, where I talk about how to write a little biography of your attendee. I’ve got a few sample profiles in there, but don’t just copy/paste – use one as a starting point, and make it your own. Most bloggers I work with tend to pick their own selves as of 2-5 years ago, and that’s an excellent approach.
Then make a list of:
- What they know, and you won’t cover in your blog
- What they don’t know, but know they want to learn
- What they don’t even know they don’t know yet, but need to
Step 3: Write a table of contents for an all-day class. In 2 years, you’re going to have a 1-day pre-conference training class for $99. It’s going to teach your ideal reader exactly what she needs to know.
- Build the table of contents – a list of 45-60 minute modules.
- Build the key takeaways for each module.
- Build the list of things the attendee should already know going in (which should map up to a subset of what the reader knows)
- Build the list of things you won’t cover in the class
Presto: each takeaway is a potential blog post topic.
For example, at right is a recap slide from one of my presentations about storage testing. Before I wrote that presentation, I’d already blogged about many of the topics like using CrystalDiskMark and using SQLIO.
I used to think that attendees wouldn’t want to come see me speak about a topic that I’d already written for the blog. After all, they read it, right? Totally not true – and in fact, it’s just the opposite. If you’re known for writing about testing storage throughput, then attendees will want to see your presentations about it. You wouldn’t go see my presentation on PowerBI, nor would you go see Jen Stirrup’s presentation about index tuning. It’s all about building yourself a reputation for a topic.
You don’t have to write a blog post about EVERY one of your takeaways – after all, especially if you’re going to offer a paid training class, you need to save some stuff for the attendees.
You also don’t have to be a slave to the agenda, either – if something else inspires you, write about it. But I bet once you’ve got this agenda written out, you’ll be chock full of inspiration to get started on the path to the pre-con.
It never ends, either – right now, I’m writing blog posts and presentations as part of my 2015/2016 training agenda. And yep, this post is a part of that!
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