Before I knew much about blogging, I equated the term with an activity done by an opinionated person who was extremely knowledgeable about some subject area – politics, business, sports – but who had far too much time on his hands. I assumed that structurally and stylistically, if you’d seen one blog post, you’d seen them all: they were dense and chock full of ideas, and posed a struggle to get through unless you were really into that subject.
Then I came to the iSchool. In each of my last three classes (four, if you count #CMGRClass), blogging has been an integral part of the assigned curriculum and work, and one was even devoted to blogging. Needless to say, I now know that my original assessment of blogging was way off mark. (At least in most cases, that is!)
This week in #CMGRClass, students studied, read, and wrote (or, more correctly, blogged) about blogging. Included in this week’s readings was ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse’s How to Write Great Blog Content: a great go-to resource for those new to blogging or who feel they need a refresher on blogging best practices. The post itself is a brief list-meets-link post, where each item in the series of bulleted lists is the title of another of Rowse’s posts. Taken together, there are 17 articles providing guidance on developing content, crafting a post, and motivating oneself to blog better.
Rowse’s series is broken into several sections, most having at least three articles each. Like any good blog post, each post is long enough, but not overly lengthy. (A recommended guideline is between 250 and 1000 words). Each has a descriptive title, and most include pictures that complement the content. Each post has formatting that aids in digesting the content: headings and subheadings in bold, italic, or underlined text, bulleted or enumerated lists, etc. Interestingly, across all of the posts, several of the wide range of types of blog posts are represented – instructional, list, and link. (Turns out that idea of blogging I had may have been based on seeing a rant post or two as is described in number 11 here.)
- Where to Start: How to Craft a Blog Post outlines “10 crucial points” to consider before clicking publish, including the importance of quality control and timing
- Techniques: offers guidance on effective post titles, suggests optimal post length, and provides ways to make a post more scannable for reading on-screen
- Workflow: includes considerations on post frequency and guest posts
- Motivation: offers numerous ways to battle bloggers’ block
- Principles: includes four excellent posts on developing content
- RSS: provides a how-to guide for developing and growing a RSS feed
Carry On Blogging
Some keys to blogging will be constant. As Rowse says in The 4 Pillars of Writing Exceptional Blogs, “… create valuable content and good writing, and the readers will come.” Content is king. (Yes, I talked about that in last week’s post on community content, too.) In How to Craft a Blog Post, Rowse also writes, “small mistakes can be barriers to engagement for some readers,” and that definitely applies to me. Provided the content is there, I also value an aesthetically-pleasing post that contains correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
I believe there’s a fine line in determining when a post is ready for prime time – especially in cases where one’s own high standards are in play. (There’s an interesting discussion going on in the #CMGRClass Google+ group about this very topic.) Regardless of where you might fall on the spectrum of “done” vs. “perfect,” make no mistake, what your post contains as well as how it looks are vitally important to your blog’s readers.
What do you think are your blogging strengths? Weaknesses? Are you more of a “done” or “perfect” blogger?
(“Keep Calm and Carry On Blogging” image from Flickr user hgjohn.)