There is no shortage of tips, guidelines and suggestions for how to blog and I am under no illusion that I can add anything fresh or original… but I am advising clients and co-workers on this subject so I thought I should take a stab at coming up with a few tips for new bloggers. Certainly not comprehensive, just the ones that popped into my head 15 minutes ago.
1. Headlines: Descriptive vs. clever – When I try to write a clever headline it just comes across as cryptic. A reader is much more likely to read your post if they have some idea what it’s about. Don’t delude yourself that they’ll be so intrigued by our clever headline that they’ll read what you’ve written. An example from smays.com: “More news after this.” vs. “30 years of broadcasting.”
2. Do not delete posts – There will come a time when you post something to your blog and later wish you hadn’t. It’s tempting to just delete the post. Don’t. The fact is you did write it and you did post it. Deleting it doesn’t change that and it’s almost surely cached somewhere. Pulling it is dishonest or unethical. A better approach is to do a follow-up post and say that you were wrong…or hasty…or misinformed. Or you just changed your mind about what you wrote. All okay. Deleting posts is considered very bad form and you’ll catch a lot of grief for doing it.
3. Editing posts – Sometimes you get something so wrong that you don’t want to leave it “out there,” uncorrected. The generally accepted way to handle this is to use a strike-through.
Example: “The senator owed
$500,000 $200,000 in back taxes.”
You’ve corrected something that was inaccurate but you did so openly, letting readers see what you changed in your post.
4. Attribution – It’s common practice among bloggers to grab text from another blog or website and include it a post on their blog. Better bloggers take the time to rewrite. And there’s no reason not to put the original material in quotation marks or italics. At the very least, you should link back to the original story or blog post and attribute your source. And if you see an interesting post on someone’s blog and write about it on your blog… it’s considered good form to acknowledge this in your post…frequently at the end [via smays.com]
5. Use category tags – Tagging your posts with one or more categories makes it easy for a reader to see all of your posts on a particular subject. But don’t get carried away.
6. Link freely – Unless you’re a brilliant and original writer, much of the value in your blog posts will be links to other blogs and websites. Most blogging applications feature “permalinks,” which make it easy to permanently link to a specific blog post (as opposed to linking to the “home page” of the blog).
7. Photos – Given that a blog is just another type of web page, the same guidelines for photos apply. Only use an image when it adds something to the post. Keep it relevant. And, whenever possisble, be consistent with the size and placement of your images.
8. Comments – Most serious bloggers will argue that a blog without comments is not really the “conversation” that bloggers are always writing and talking about. But you’ll find many blogs where comments have been turned off. You can also set your comments so that you’re emailed when a reader has posted a comment so you can approve (or delete). “Comment spam” has become a real headache for many bloggers but the software is getting better at dealing with this issue. The best blogs get lots of comments and they add much to the overall experience.
9. Stay focused – Decide what your blog is about (if it’s about anything) and try to focus your posts in that direction. If you really don’t care who reads your blog or what they think about what you’ve written, then post about anything. But a blog that’s about everything is really about nothing. Try to find a subject that you know and/or care about and write about that. It can be anything (technology, your cat, recipes, politics) but find your niche.
10. Post frequently – The best, most dedicated bloggers post several times a day. Having something fresh every day goes a long way toward bringing people back to your blog. At the very least, try to post a few times a week. If you can’t find the time or the will to do that…ask yourself if you really want to mess with blogging at all.