Mindcasting vs. Lifecasting

by Rachel on April 22, 2010 · 30 comments

When thinking about creating good content, one of the ideas I love is the idea of “mindcasting” and “lifecasting.” These words come from the mind of NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen and really apply to social media — specifically Twitter. But I think about them a lot when it comes to blogging.

Mindcasting is sharing ideas. For us, it might be recipes, articles, links, or really just any commentary. I also think of mindcasting as instruction or information; an entire post on, say, fiber, or horseback riding.

Lifecasting is sharing your life. It’s pictures of your food, your dog, your family; stories of your workout or your trip to the winery.

I believe that a good health blog combines both mindcasting and lifecasting. Another Hollaback girl mentioned today that she’s going to aim to do only one “lifecasting” post a day; I think that’s a great idea. The more mindcasting you do, the more you’re offering a service to people. I think many bloggers have the goal of inspiring people. While, yes, your day-to-day existence can very well inspire (I know many of us cook better food after seeing good food pictures or are inspired to sign up for a race hearing about one), there’s also so much more you — we! — can offer. More mindcasting posts (even things that still are about you like “Why I Love Racing” or “How I Learned to Cook”) are awesome. I truly think those are the best posts because we really get to know the blogger and we’re also inspired to comment! It’s really hard to comment on lifecasting. Like, “Oh, that food looks amazing! Just like it did yesterday!!”? Yeah…I guess. But it’s also great to be able to have a real discussion.

See, mindcasting is thought-provoking. It will get you more comments. It will also invite people to, well, holler back. People link to mindcasting posts. We’ve all seen someone write, “I’ve been thinking about *this post* all day and it made me really want to try Bikram yoga.” If you want to be *that post* more, try mindcasting.

I love the idea of aiming for more mindcasting and less lifecasting — or even just doing 50-50. Personally, the more I write and the stronger I get, the less lifecasting I do. And I also don’t lifecast unless I truly have something to say. I don’t lifecast pictures of leftovers or a workout that was the same as yesterday’s. I never post pictures of my breakfast. Why? Because I eat the same thing every day! What’s the point? Just to say something? Nah — no point. So even when you lifecast, find a way to make it better. This doesn’t mean more pictures or more smiley faces; it means more thoughts and words.

And don’t think you have nothing to mindcast. I bet you do! And I think it’s really important to recognize that you do. Don’t rely on lifecasting because you’re afraid to have an opinion or point of view — your readers will appreciate these things! I’d rather disagree with someone than just have nothing to say about a blog. I love those days when I read a post that’s so on point (or off point, for that matter), I have to comment or I want to re-tweet it. That’s the kind of blog post I strive to write and those are the blog posts I love to read. So what if you’ve been lifecasting for six months? We know what your breakfast looks like; now show us your brain, your heart, your opinion, your thoughts!

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Gracie April 22, 2010 at 1:20 am

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

When I first started blogging, I had it in my mind that it’d just be lifecasting. But after a few weeks, I realized that that was just BORING! Now I feel like my posts are a complete waste of space if they don’t have at least *some* mindcasting going on. Even though many of my posts are still lifecasting, I’m always trying to work on or think of some actual CONTENT that will be not only interesting but useful to my readers.

I liked your tip from the other day about following certain themes. I’ll definitely be turning to that when I run out of ideas/get writer’s block. I’ve also taken advantage of my obsessive list-making habit by making a series of “10 Ways” posts. I guess you could say that they’re how-to’s of topics I know a thing or 2 about (or at least like to think I do, haha). I guess my point is that each person has their own unique way to execute mindcasting, they just need to figure it out! It might be a longer and more difficult process than lifecasting, but I agree that it pays off in the end for the readers and bloggers alike.

Laura Georgina April 22, 2010 at 2:05 am

Rachel, how did you get so wise, girl? This is so helpful–and I’m especially glad I read it before writing up my post today because it helped me recast and rethink.

The whole issue has been on my mind a lot lately, I just didn’t have a concise name for it. It’s hard to strike a balance between spilling your day-to-day and making something more relatable out of it. I’m definitely working through this and like Gracie says, we all do mindcasting a bit differently, it’s just a matter of finding it.

Sophie @ yumventures April 22, 2010 at 3:29 am

I’ll holla back to that! Even in my cooking blog I have been trying to think of new ideas, to keep things interesting. It can be hard, but blogging makes me think more about myself and about the world, and the more I write the stronger I get! you are totally right, I’m sick and tired of looking at oatmeal. I’d rather hear about whats going on in your head!

Rachel April 22, 2010 at 3:38 am

Sophie — I LOVE “The more I write the stronger I get.” It’s seriously SO TRUE. It’s something you can strengthen like a muscle and honestly, I’ve now been writing so long that I NEVER have writer’s block. It’s like exercise; you do it and it becomes habit and easier. So thrilled to hear that you connected with this!

Kaytee April 22, 2010 at 3:48 am

I think lifecasts sometimes can be a little bit indulgent (and inspire a cult-like following) but it can be tastefully done. I like a little bit of lifecasting to see how people put their tips and suggestions into action. I think posting what you eat every day is a little bit different from “Then I went to work. Then I played with my dog. Then I plucked my eyebrows.” That gets old after a while.

I read different blogs for different reasons, but really all I care about is that the blogger is honest and interesting.

MelissaNibbles April 22, 2010 at 8:51 am

Great post as usual. I’ve been blogging since August and I’m still trying to figure out what my niche is and where exactly I fit it into the “healthy living” community. It’s to the point where I’m happy with the readers I have and am comfortable enough to let them into my “real” world and share intimate details about my life. I think it takes getting to that point before you can really be free in your writing. Thanks for the tips!

Alicia April 22, 2010 at 11:08 am

I think a balance of mindcasting and lifecasting is great, as long as there is some variety in all of your postings overall. Not to beat a dead horse, but I know my readers would be bored to see my rotation of savory oats and egg english muffin breakfasts every other day. Now pics of my golden retriever – I find those are always welcome :)

Kat April 22, 2010 at 5:19 pm

You learn something new every day – I love those terms! I get bored with the blogs that just show photographs of what they eat, but I also tend to skip the verbose, picture-less, format-less “I had an epiphany today that changed my way of thinking about X, Y, Z” posts. Both make the blogger look shallow, but for different reasons. I LOVE when bloggers actually have a point to make but mix it up with some fun lifecasting along the way.

Eunice April 22, 2010 at 6:44 pm

“We know what your breakfast looks like; now show us your brain, your heart, your opinion, your thoughts!” Loved this.

I’m still trying to decide if I want to get into this health blogging thing. I write part-time for my work blog, but if I start my own, I want it to be more than just about what I ate or how many push-ups I did. Killer post. Thanks for the tips!

Caitlin April 22, 2010 at 8:08 pm

This post and what you’ve said here sums up my perspective about my own blogging experience. Although I was exposed to this community through blogs that document daily eats, etc. but when I started my own I knew it would never follow that format. I am more interested in writing a few entries a week that span everything from my adventures in training, to dance and culture and music and the asshole boyfriend that broke up with me because he just “didn’t get” blogging.

As I have said before, I don’t care so much about what you eat, but what you think and how you write. I was a writer before anything else and my interest in that alone will outlive all others.

Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter April 24, 2010 at 12:42 am

I feel like the blogs with a 50/50 of mindcasting and lifecasting are the strongest. I just started my blog and its about 80% lifecasting and 20% mindcasting, however I’m starting to get a better balance. Thank you for the great post.

Heather April 30, 2010 at 4:43 pm

i just needed to come back to this post and thank you.

since reading this, I’ve been thinking so much about mindcasting and lifecasting.

and after reading Leah’s Sandwich post as well – I know that i read certain blogs that are lifecasting for different reasons –

but there were some blogs i was reading because i felt like i should be reading them, and wasnt getting A LOT out of them.

this sounds so silly – because i never felt like i read certain blogs just for the sake of reading them, but ive found myself this week, unsubscribing from certain blogs that have been in my reader for a long time because the truth is that i dont really get much out of them. I wouldnt keep reading a book that I wasnt feeling entertained by, stimulated by, motivated by, or learning things from – why should i do so from a blog.

thank you. again. so smart.

Health Votes September 27, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Life casting is more about getting personal, it tells the reader a bit about yourself, that way you present the reader with a bit more than just a post. Though, i like to come up with more informational posts, they are not like blog posts, rather more like articles. But if you have got information to share then i don’t see why you should not, let it me mind casting, but it will be rich in content.
Health VotesĀ“s last post ..Epsom Salt Benefits

Allie Finch October 1, 2010 at 5:03 am

Wow, I really needed to see this.
When I started blogging, I just sort of fell into the mindcasting role. I have been “stressing” [so-to-speak] because I felt I didn’t do enough lifecasting like fellow bloggers. But it just isn’t me; it feels forced, & I realized I scan or do not revisit blogs that are lifecast-only. I would rather share insight — along with a bit of lifecasting — & hope it sparks a conversation or inspires someone. Everyone has a unique style & voice; thanks for reminding me that I don’t need to be afraid to use & explore it!

Warren Dostie March 15, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Nice post, and as a new blogger it puts it even further into perspective for me. I think like anything you follow, your own adoption of it depends upon your identification with it, so the lifecasting part is big. But like you said, posting valuable information in it will attract the seekers. Thanks for the smart post. Warren

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