Guide to Blogging – Part 2
How to write a blog – do’s & don’ts
Although these guidelines for writing a blog are little more than common sense, they are broken often enough for it to be worthwhile setting them out in black and white.
- Do use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. Don’t be deceived by the informality of the medium, it is always important to come across as intelligent enough to follow basic linguistic rules.
- Write in the first person
- Use lots of headings, because a lot of internet users are there to browse
- Hook your audience in the first sentence
- The ratio of interesting content to promotional material should be no less than 90-10. Don’t just tell people how great and knowledgeable you are, use the blog to prove it!
- Engage with your audience to earn their respect and their regular readership.
- Your blog will fail if it is obviously phoney- keep it real
- Post at least weekly, no more than daily. Blogs require a lot of maintenance
- Read and comment on other people’s blogs as much as possible, and link to them in your blog where relevant – people will soon reciprocate. Reading other blogs will also give you a good idea of what works and what doesn’t
- Try to respond when people take the time to comment.
- Keep each paragraph fairly short – alot of text on a screen can be pretty intimidating
- Link to other blogs within your own, and also link to previous blogs of your own so that people who are new to the site can browse the topics that interest them more easily. Every time you mention a new idea, try to link it to something- links are what makes the web work.
- Ask for comments on your blogs. Most readers are more interested in what they have to say than what you think. End each blog with “tell me what you think”
- Add pictures and videos. There are hundreds of royalty free stock images at www.sxc.hu that you can download, or make your own (or ask Slurpy to make some for you). Just don’t steal them from Google Image Search – it is illegal to use an image without permission.
- Fill in your profile with as much information as possible. The more people know about you, the more likely they are to trust you. Try to include a photo as well.
- Don’t make your language too formal- this is supposed to be the human face of your business where you communicate with people as equals. Don’t talk down to people, and don’t use corporate language
- Don’t use hard sell techniques- people don’t browse the internet looking for advertising, they look for information and entertainment. Providing one of these will get people returning regularly.
- Don’t be derivative, and if you do quote from other sources then reference the source.
- Don’t spam other people’s blogs. Use the comment system to communicate and introduce your ideas and blog space, but just adding a link will not make you any friends.
- Don’t write when angry. Although you can take down a blog whenever you want, you’ll have no idea who’s seen it and possibly copied it before you do.
- Don’t expect a million hits overnight, it takes time to build up a regular readership. In the next section we’re going to discuss how to speed things up a bit.
- Don’t preach, lie, or pretend that you know more about something than you really do – odds are that someone out there will catch you out.
A blog can take many angles, and each one will attract different readership and fans. You could talk about new developments, new products or services that you’re offering, the day to day running of the business, big issues of the day or you could be responding to other blogs or media. Say you were writing a blog on organic Gardening: your blog could include responses to questions that you receive regularly, links to new books and magazines, meal recipes, maps of the best places to grow organic food, reviews of cookbooks; anything it takes to establish you as a leading authority on the subject will bring business your way.
Your posts can be any of the following things:
- Informational – A news oriented blurb, such as a new development
- Question/ Answer – get bored of answering the same email five times a day? Stick the answers in the blog. Remember that if lots of people are asking you, lots more people are probably searching for the same thing
- Instructional – A how-to article or tutorial on a particular aspect of the business
- Link posts – Find an interesting blog or article, link to it and review it
- Rant – Don’t be afraid to take sides! Interesting blogs don’t sit on the fence, but offer opinions and reasons. Feel free to let off some steam once in a while, just avoid making offensive personal comments.
- Book/ Product Reviews – Give an honest review of a book relating to your field, people will respect you for your opinion and if their’s differs, you have an excellent opportunity for communication
- Lists – Top 10s are always popular, and will help establish you as an authority. You can also critique other people’s lists
- Interviews – Chat with other people in your field, or let someone else interview you. Chances are that questions will come up that you’d never put in writing before.
- Stories and Anecdotes – Keep them relevant, but all stories add a personal touch to the blog. How did you get in to the business? What difficulties do you find?
How to promote your blog:
Probably the most important and time consuming part of starting a new blog is promoting it on the web. Although there are fewer blogs in the world than there are websites, the number is constantly increasing as more and more companies realise the vast exposure they can obtain through increasing their online presence in this simplest of ways, meaning that competition is becoming fiercer
Search engines work by sending out “spiders” about once a month to check for any updates to your site and to re-evaluate how relevant you are to each search criteria. You don’t want to go a whole month before search engines recognise that you’ve updated your site, so you can now “ping” them to make them aware that they need to send the spiders round again. Go to Ping-o-matic and fill in all of the relevant information, before checking all of the boxes and clicking “ping.”
Take part in the community:
This is the aspect of creating a blog that can take the most time, but can also be the most rewarding. Read other people’s blogs; comment on them; post replies to questions; interact with other bloggers; post links to interesting articles. The more you can become part of the community, the more people will link to your site, and the wider your readership becomes. To find blogs that interest you, just search in http://blogsearch.google.com/ and start building buzz around you!
Blog to email subscriptions:
By far the easiest way for readers to receive your posts is via email subscription, to save readers the effort of returning manually to your page to see if you’ve updated recently. Feedblitz offers a free blog-to-email service that inserts a ‘sign up’ box on your blog so readers can provide their email addresses. Subscribers then receive an email digest of every new post, and can click through to read the entire blog. Only about 15% of internet users understand and utilize RSS, so email subscription is still something your can’t afford to forget. The other advantage of this service from Feedblitz is that it provides you with reporting tools showing how many of your emails are opened and which headlines get the best results, showing the content readers value most.
- Go to Feedblitz – Add Blogger Widget
- Fill in the form with the email address that your blog is registered to, correctly replicate the CAPTCHA and click Install
- Go to the email that was automatically sent to you, and click on the link to confirm registration
- You can now login to Feedblitz (although you may have to request to have your password sent to you)
- Return to Feedblitz – Add Blogger Widget and enter your email address etc again.
- When you click the link this time your will be taken to Blogger, where clicking “Add Widget” will add the blog-to-email widget to your blog.
Want to get more out of your blog? The Internet contains literally thousands of free ‘widgets’ that you can add to your blog to make it stickier and more user friendly.
Search “widget + blogger” to find widgets that do every task imaginable, from collecting email addresses to listing all of the websites you check out (not always advisable). When you decide on one that you want to add to your blog, it is generally a simple matter of entering your website’s URL, followed by a few more pieces of information. You will be presented with some coding, which you can just copy (Ctrl+C) and paste (Ctrl+V) in to your new blog.
Publish your articles in e-zines:
The life of your post does not have to end when you post it. If people are enjoying reading it, why not try submitting it to online journals and publications? There are hundreds of magazines and newsletters that are scouring the web for content to fill their pages, so try submitting your best posts to them. Sometimes, the success of a blog can be a story in itself!
If you have any questions or any other aspect of web promotion, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org