Block Island 2008

Phoning it in has become a popular pejorative among the blogging and social crowd. It’s considered the epitome of laziness, the pinnacle of apathy, and it’s something that you want to avoid as much as possible, right?

Except… we’re human. Some days we simply don’t have enough A-game in the tank. Some days we simply don’t have a well to draw from and not enough time or resources to recharge the batteries in a timely manner.

Some days, we have to phone it in.

Here’s the funny thing: if you phone it in correctly, at least from a content creation perspective, you can create some stuff that’s incredibly valuable and timeless. Here’s a few examples of posts I phoned in:

  • Tools I use on my Mac. Total phone-in list post that involved opening my Applications folder and talking about what I found in it. In the 3 years it’s been up, it’s one of my top 50 most visited blog posts.
  • Bertucci’s pasta sauce cloning attempt. Another post that’s in the top 50 of all time, I was messing around trying to figure out how they got their pasta sauce to taste as good as it did.
  • Free iPad wallpapers. I was swamped at a conference I was at and didn’t have time to blog, so I fired up iPhoto, browsed through my archives of photos, and sliced up 10 photos into 1024×1024 JPGs, then linked them up. In the top 25 blog posts I’ve ever done, traffic-wise.

The secret behind phoning it in, when you have to do it, is to draw on stuff you’ve already got, stuff that you know so well, stuff that is fresh in your mind that you can write about . These more casual, less “on message” pieces of content appeal to the personal, human sides of ourselves and can be a welcome break for your audience as well.

Some other phoning it in ideas:

  • Favorite songs in your audio collection that make you…
  • Your grandmother’s heritage recipe for…
  • How to make tomatoes taste better in …
  • Five tricks you use to break the ice at…
  • How to shop for…

Should you phone it in all the time? No, of course not. But when you do have those days when you need a break, make something valuable anyway. You’ll be amazed at the longevity and power of some of the phoned-in topics. I wonder how a blog post on phoning it in will do…


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