In America, today is Thanksgiving, a national holiday during which families cook a traditional dinner of turkey and a few other dishes, like cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and dressing (or stuffing). But did you know your blog is like a Thanksgiving dinner? It’s true!

The turkey is the main focus, but variety matters

The focus of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey. It’s the main event. But without the rest of the dishes, even the most perfectly roasted bird would make for a dull dinner. To give a greater context and variety, you need the mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, and your aunt’s weird Jell-O salad (nobody’s quite sure what’s in it).

On your blog, there needs to be a main focus, but also a variety of supporting topics. You can’t leave the main subject alone for too long, and you can’t place too much emphasis on the side dishes. Many of us have a niche for our blog, but there are plenty of subjects that are related to that niche. Write your longer, more thorough posts on the main subject and your shorter posts on the “side” subjects.

Preparation is everything

The key to a successful Thanksgiving dinner is preparation. The menu has to be planned, the shopping list has to be written, and everything has to be done in the right order so that the dinner’s ready on time and everything’s just right.

Likewise, you need to plan your blog. Only through planning can you accomplish certain kinds of blog content, such as video posts, series of posts, and promotions. You need to plan general goals for your blog, as well, such as monetization efforts and networking/social media strategies.

You’ve got to please the guests

I certainly do love to cook, but a big part of what I enjoy about it so much is the enjoyment that other people get from the meal. I love to hear people say what they enjoyed about it. While I create a menu that I will enjoy, I also create a menu that I hope everyone else will love, too.

Blogging is exactly like cooking a Thanksgiving dinner in this respect: it works best if you blog about something you like, but you want your audience to like it, too. You want to get feedback in the form of blog comments, trackbacks, and votes from social media submissions.

Follow best practices for best results

You don’t want your turkey to be undercooked or dried up and tough. You can avoid these problems and have the best possible Thanksgiving dinner by following the collected best advice from others who have come before you and cooked many Thanksgiving dinners over the years. When there’s some history behind an activity that allows us to see what techniques work best over time, we call these techniques best practices. One best practice for a perfect turkey is to soak the bird in brine solution prior to roasting.

For blogging, there are best practices we know work well to help us have the best blog possible. For example:

  • Create core content that is the best in its class, sometimes referred to as pillar or flagship content
  • Have a unique and well-designed blog theme or template
  • Network with other bloggers
  • Add pictures to your posts to grab attention and stand out
  • Link out to other blogs and sites
  • Create the most compelling and original content you can

Make the most of leftovers

One thing that’s true about big Thanksgiving dinners is that there is a lot of food left when it’s over. You can make turkey sandwiches for a week, or you can get creative with the leftovers and use them to make stir fry, a soup, or even a pizza.

On your blog, you want to make the most of your previous posts. You can serve up these “leftovers” in a variety of creative and tasty ways. The most common and easiest way to do this is to simply link to your previous posts from relevant anchor text in new posts. But occasionally, you want to create new posts that call attention to your older posts. The more creativity you can work into these, the better.

Traditions with a twist are big hits

Everybody loves the traditions that give a sense of meaning and nostalgia for good times in the past. But tradition followed blindly has the opposite effect: it becomes boring and meaningless, just “going through the motions.” Instead of just doing the usual same turkey the same way, why not create a twist on the tradition? What about a turkey with a pomegranite molasses and black pepper glaze, or something even more different? (One year we had a Mexican Thanksgiving dinner with no turkey!)

On your blog, putting a twist on the usual kind of posts creates much fresher content that really gets attention in a way the same-old same-old just can’t do, anymore. Many bloggers have a speed-link type of post, where they have a list of links they feel are worth your attention. Many of these posts are the same as any other of its kind. For a twist, I decided to sample an enticing or provocative quote from another blogger’s post, and use their name as the link back to the post. These Overheard in the Blogosphere posts have become one of the most popular things I do on my blog.

So these are some ways in which a blog is like a Thanksgiving dinner!

Happy Thanksgiving, America!