Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Tips and Tricks Tuesday: Post-Haste

The internet is full of blogs that started off well, but for whatever reason the author lost steam and abandoned the project. I believe this happens most often when the novelty wears off, and writing the blog ceases to be a source of entertainment. Totally understandable.

When the initial energy and excitement is gone, hard work is mostly all that’s left. And while there are rewards, few people are thrilled about spending 6 or more hours at the computer on a 500 word post. So what’s the trick? How do we maximize our time at the keyboard and maintain positive blogging energy?

Here’s my “best of” list from some smart people who know how to write fast:

  • Set the stage. Michelle V. Rafter says, “Write when you’re on.” She claims 5am is her freshest time of day and reserves it for writing. She ‘un-plugs’ (internet, T.V., etc.) and removes all possible distractions.
  • Focus your topic. Jim Estill starts with a list of points to cover; marinades them for a few days, gathering ideas and honing the focus of his piece; and then tosses the items that don’t fit. (BTW Jim’s article was fantastic, definitely worth your time.)
  • Answer a question. Gill E. Wagner says turning your subject into a question to answer identifies what you need and don’t need to cover.
  • Pick your format ahead of time. Alisa Bowman recommends spending your time on writing rather than format. Her article identifies 5 common blog-post formats.
  • Write first; then edit. Get everything out of your head before you make changes. Breaking up the flow of your ideas requires you to spend time collecting them again.
  • The shorter the post, the better. Internet audiences are known for their limited attention span. The blogosphere has no use for fluff and filler. Write about what’s interesting and avoid everything else.

Can you do it now? Go pound away for a solid 30 minutes, and then move on with your day already!

Good Advise for Bloggers In Clear Blogging by Bob Walsh

We are currently reading from Clear Blogging by Bob Walsh (Apress 2007) in my Web 2.0 class. I’m learning a TON from this book. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to be a serious blogger. Here’s a few ideas from the book (and a few from our class) that I thought might be useful to all who blog:

  • Own Your Words. Keep a cool head and don’t get carried away. I can’t find the exact quote, but Walsh says something like: Never publish anything you wouldn’t want your grandma or boss to read, because odds are they will read it.
  • Keep an idea list. In an un-published draft page or elsewhere, keep a running list of post ideas. Sometimes we have more good ideas than we can possibly write about at the moment, and sometimes we sit at the keyboard with nothing to say. An idea list will help even things out.
  • Keep a “my bad” list as well. Notice words that you tend to misspell or mistype. Paying attention to these words will help you correct problems.
  • Use tabs, labels, or categories. Help your readers find more of what they love. Add tabs, labels, and/or categories to each post to organize your site. Your readers will appreciate being able to find things efficiently.
  • Show your favorites or “best of.” In your sidebar or somewhere else, display a list of links to your “favorites” or “best of” posts. Your audience will appreciate seeing the work you are most proud of.

If you want to increase traffic to your blog, here’s some good ideas:

  • Consider a focus. Blogs are a great for keeping a journal or log about your activities and interests. But if you want to attract an audience, choose a specific focus. People who are also interested in whatever you are focusing on will be more likely to re-visit your blog.

  • Consider your audience. Place yourself in the shoes of those who you’re writing for. What do they want to hear about?
  • Stick to a schedule. Your readers will appreciate knowing when to expect your content to change.
  • Spend some time on your post titles. The title is the first thing your readers see. They often make the decision to read or not based on the title of the post. The title should be interesting and describe what the post is about.
  • Be thoughtful about your tagline. (the subtitle of your blog) Use words that people search for. Your tagline, the titles of your posts, and the first few words of your posts are what search engines will crawl. If you have the words people search for in those areas, you will be placed higher in search result lists.
  • Include your biography and a picture of yourself. People interested in your words will want to know about you. If you’re willing to disclose part of yourself it lends credibility to your words.

BE CAREFUL!!
Blogs can feel so personal. It’s just you and your computer, right? WRONG! Remember, unless you take specific steps, blogs are a public space.

  • Keep your safety in mind. Little details can lead to identity theft, kidnapping, and other problems.
  • Know your rights. Occasionally lawsuits are filed over the content of a blog. The EFF have posted a very readable legal guide for bloggers on their site. It’s worth checking out.
  • Consider adding a disclosure policy. If you don’t want to be held responsible for any ignorant comments people make, apparently our sue happy society requires that this be spelled out somewhere. If you endorse products or advertise for anything on your blog, you might visit disclosurepolicy.org for a sample disclosure policy spelling out the intent of your endorsement.