Tag Archive for blogging

How To Write The Perfect Blog Post

Writing the perfect blog post can be difficult. There are lots of things to consider upon outlining a blog post. What kind of title will attract people? What do people want to hear about? How will my blog post be different from others that are already published? These questions, along with many others, are all important for bloggers to consider before writing a post.

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Darren Rowse speaks at a conference in Oregon.

Luckily, an article was written about how to craft the perfect blog post. Author Darren Rowse hits on several points, including the importance of your opening line and timing the publishing of your post correctly. Within each of his points, Rowse continues to break down the blogging process by further analyzing each of his general suggestions. In his post, Rowse jokes about the first thing his future wife said to him when they met to emphasize the importance of an opening line. Through personal anecdotes, Rowse is able to convey the important aspects of blogging to those reading along.

Reading these tips were not only interesting, but helpful. I’ve been a blogger for Infospace, the School of Information Studies‘ official blog, for almost two years! One of the areas in which I’ve struggled with most is finding a topic to write about. Although there is so much constantly happening in the tech world, I find that it can sometimes be difficult to write a post that is not only informative, but also offers perspective on a piece of technology. I’ve learned that it’s important to find something to write about that’s not only important to you, but important to readers! One piece that I wrote for Infospace which was incredibly important to me was this piece about what to do when your internship comes to and end. I wrote this at the end of my internship when I was starting to reflect on my experiences there and looked towards the future. I knew that many students were in a similar position as me, and decided that outlining best practices would be informative and helpful. The post received great feedback, and many people reached out to me thanking me for helping them. A blog post feels successful when you know that something you wrote resonated with people.

Rowse mentions the importance of connecting with an audience in his article along with another key piece of advice, which is to “picture a reader.” This unique piece of advice was something I never considered and feel could be incredibly helpful when writing a post. Rowse says to try and put himself in the mindset of a reader. It’s important to consider “their situation, needs, questions and challenges in front of” them. By analyzing what’s important to a reader, it can become easier to figure out what needs to be addressed in a blog post. I’ve promised myself to do the same for when I continue to write blog posts so I can address the needs of the audience. Blog post audiences can make or break a post. If a piece of writing is well received, then it can make a huge impact! Thinking about the audience is something to always remember.

Although there are a lot of things to consider when writing a blog post, I’ve learned that things come naturally once you start to understand the blogging community and you practice writing posts over and over. By following Rowse’s tips and continuing to blog, anyone can be well on their way to writing a great post.

Get off my Internet: Dealing with Backlash on Blogs

This past week, the #CMGRclass community was flooded with posts on how to handle online brands in disaster situations. Chobani, Kenneth Cole, and Miley Cyrus all served as case studies on how meltdowns are handled online.

But what if that meltdown happens in your space – or more specifically, on your blog?

Dealing with negative feedback is important, and it’s even more important on a blog. Your response to the feedback will be immortalized as long as your blog lives. So how do you manage this? Here are 5 things that you can do to deal with negative comments on blogs.

  • bloggingNegativity is inevitable. So make sure you’re ready with a plan on how to respond to negative comments of all kinds – whether it’s constructive or not.

 

  • conversePay attention. The end of the blog isn’t the blog – it’s just a means to a conversation. Pay attention to those that comment – be on the lookout for those who want to open up that conversation further.

 

  • leaderLead by example. How you respond to criticism will dictate how your readers respond to criticism on your blog, and may also impact how loyal followers will handle criticism “for” you. Do your best to keep dialogue open, but …

 

  • trollsKnow how to spot a troublemaker. Some people just like to stir the pot – or “troll.” Trolls will try to make you miserable and may even attack you personally, so remember the internet mantra and “don’t feed the trolls.”

 

  • networkMake sure you’re not breaking blogging etiquette. Attribute inspiration from other bloggers (which can help build your network), don’t steal images, and in general, be nice to other bloggers. Participate in other comment sections – you never know who might find your blog through theirs.

 

What else would you add to help deal with criticism on blogs?

Online Community History

Today online communities as we know it has became a huge way of communicating with others. In the 1970s when the Internet was created by ARPAnet E-Mail was created. Although, basic E-Mail allowed for user interaction as one could send and recieve messages. “Message Boards” were soon built into email or websites allowing for others to create a string of content that others can respond to. Message boards are quite common even today allowing for a user to interact with others on one topic. Interactions are in the form of message strings that other users are also able to see.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) developed in 1988 by Jarkko Okarinen was one of the early Instant Messengers. Popular in the 90’s Instant Messaging started to occur. Both users had to be online; and could send each other short messages instantly. This later emerged into AOL Instant Messenger, and Windows Live Messenger.

Today online communities are built off of the innovations that we had in the past. Users that are participating in communities have increased steadily in recent years. Back in a 2001 Pew Internet & American Life Project report, 84% of all Internet users indicated that they contacted an online community and 79% identified at least one group with which they maintained regular online contact. Due to user increases many communities have sprung up in recent years that may relate to user interest, health, shopping and even travel.

Sites like TripAdvisor are an example of an online community where users are able to post photos, comments, and links about a particular place. People who do post about their experiences get responses from a manager or other appointed user. There are also interest communities such as WebMD a community relating to health and wellness. Users are able to get health advice, and learn about news and other resources available to them.

Facebook and Twitter today are two types of platforms that allow users to customize a profile and communicate with others. Facebook has incorporated many great features that were popular in the past into its site. Users can instant message; email and make their Facebook unique with a profile picture (avatar).Twitter allows for an avatar and almost encompasses a forum feature but instead lets users write a post on a news feed of 120 characters.

Online communities today would be drastically different if it were not for many of the previous developments on the web with features such as email, forums, and instant messaging.

The Most Important Tip for Blogging

Is it just me or does it seem like everyone is a blogger now a days? I’ve never been a blogger, but I am beginning to realize the importance of becoming one. I used to only think blogs were for sports, entertainment news, and really any other opinionated subject. Much to my surprise, I have found that they are a crucial element to not only a community manager, but they also build a brand. However, a blog is not going to be of much importance, nor is it going to get many views, if these following tips are not used.

The Top Ten

Darren Rowse’s article How to Craft a Blog Post- 10 Crucial Points to Pause is listed below:

  • Choose a topic that matters to readers

    Photo courtesy of Beth Kanter via Flikr Creative Commons

    Photo courtesy of Beth Kanter via Flikr Creative Commons

  • Craft the title so that it will stick out to readers
  • Choose a good opening line to make a good impression
  • Make sure your post has a point and ‘matters’
  • Drive readers to do something, where they can apply what you say to real life
  • Make sure you have added all of the depth you possibly could
  • Polish posts- even the smallest mistake cost you
  • Publish your post at the right time
  • Post promotion- don’t just rely on the publish button to get views, give a few ‘nudges’ to increase exposure
  • Converse with readers and other bloggers once your post is published

Having a polished post with little to no errors or grammar mistakes would be the most important. For example, the picture below says “no unortherised parking” and is something that should have never been printed. I wouldn’t take that sign seriously, and the same goes for a poorly written blog post.

Another tip I feel is very important is that the post has a point. If we write about something that has no point, a viewer may not be apt to read another one of your blog posts. If it has a catchy title, it will get people to read it, but if the post doesn’t ‘matter,’ as Darren Rowse states, “it’ll never get traction.”

Lastly, crafting the title of the blog that will catch the attention of readers is also important. It is the most crucial part of getting people to actually start reading your post. If it’s easily searchable via Google or easily tweetable, it can help in the amount of traffic the post gets.

Maybe before the committee spends money on a sign, they could check their spelling of "unauthorized" - Image courtesy of Zoay via Flikr Creative Commons

Maybe before the committee spends money on a sign, they could check their spelling of “unauthorized” – Image courtesy of Zoay via Flikr Creative Commons

Ask yourself, “Am I thinking about these tips when I construct my blog post? Did I spend enough time thinking about the title?” Questions like this can make you stop and pause momentarily, or even hours to try to craft the best post possible.

What tip do you find most important? Are there any on the list that you do not think should be there? Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

Blogging 101

This weeks reading had to do with how to write an effective blog post; and how to be a great community manager. The reading had a list of ten things that a Community Manager needs to follow to write a successful blog post and become a good community manager. This week I am moderator for Google+ Community and the #CMGRClass Twitter; and discussion has been developed off of these 10 items. Below I will talk about some discussion of some points that students raised:

Quality Control

The topic of quality control was talked about the most where a Community Manager should make sure there are no errors in information, or spelling as it makes the post look less professional. This is not only a blogging skill but a life skill that you will run into in the corporate sector.

Making Your Posts Matter

As a Community Manager you need to be sure you are able to get your point across to your readers. If your post has weak ideas without information to back up your points your viewers will possibly think that reading your blog is a true waste of time. A post with no point or purpose makes you look less credible and steers your audience away from you. Make sure your post is on point and does not fade away from the main topic. This does usually happen when a blogger is discussing many points and posts mainly about a key point instead of the main topic itself. 

Timing is Everything 

You want to make sure you have your post submitted for your viewers to read in a timely fashion as news becomes old quickly. With social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook events go viral quickly so blogging in a timely fashion is key to making sure you are able to “break” the news to your readers. A post about Apple’s new iPhone release is key to get out to viewers on the release day, and not a week or two later.

How you blog as a Community Manager will make you or break you. As a Community Manager you need to know the basics of Blogging 101 to be a success. Getting your audience to follow and trust you will make you stand out as a successful Community Manager. The points above are the most crucial ones to making your posts successful; and if they are not followed you most likely will not be taken seriously.

The Quest for Blogging Inspiration

flickr_Tiago DanielAs an undergraduate in the Newhouse school’s print journalism track, I once received some great advice from the chair of the magazine journalism department, Professor Melissa Chessher. I sat with my classmates around the dinner-style table in the magazine lab room one day for a session of MAG 406: Magazine Article Writing, when she exclaimed  we should all be carrying an idea notebook everywhere we went. Better yet, we should regularly take clippings of articles, pictures, even phrases that we loved or wanted to follow up on, and that we should keep a binder of all those juicy tidbits closeby our writing desk. I’ve now received this advice twice – most recently, from blogger Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net, as part of our readings for CMGRClass.

Stay Motivated!

Rowse recommends keeping a journal of titles or phrases that could be made into blog posts someday, as a method of fending off the apathy which can set in when you’ve been blogging regularly for a long time. In addition, he suggests varying the kinds of stimuli bloggers turn to for information. Reading a book, subscribing to new sources of information and news, flicking through TV channels for relevant clips (whilst consciously resisting getting “sucked in” to the tube), and even taking a walk are methods I’ve found helpful before.  However, he adds that it can be helpful to start a content series, which sounds like it will become a second battle to keep up with. Still, whatever helps you chip away at the writer’s block!

Teamwork

Bringing community and conversation to your content stream sometimes sounds difficult, but many of this week’s readings address this concern. Whether it’s through recruiting bloggers and retaining them through a rotating editorial calendar (and showing how valuable they are by providing them tangible rewards), or involving the community by addressing questions, putting out a survey, sharing suggestions, or holding a competition/project (see “Meme it Up” in Rowse’s post) interactivity is the way to attract participation. Most importantly, interacting with people – other bloggers, professionals and fans within your niche can provide both the ideas, motivation, and support to achieve more on your blog. It’s as we discussed on Google+: get out, try the one-hour challenge to produce content quickly, and just write something – anything. Sometimes breaking through a writer’s dry spell is as simple as deviating from your personal norm.

Nailing the Pitch From a Blogger’s Perspective

I’ll admit up front that I’m not a very serious blogger, and I operate in a fairly niche environment. I’ve also never followed through with promoted content on my site, but I have received plenty of bad pitches in my time. Combined with our readings this week about pitching bloggers, I thought I might contribute my perspective with tips that would work for my blog.

I write about coffee, plain and simple. I’ve been a coffee enthusiast for years, I’ve started a few side projects around coffee, and I regularly inundate myself in the world and industry of coffee. As such, my writing is tailored to people who are also interested in specialty coffee, though they may have more or less experience than I do.

Coffee, being as large and varied a topic as it is, comes with its drawbacks. Even though I’d never in a million years review Keurig K-cups for a promoted post, that hasn’t stopped two separate requests from arriving in my inbox. I’ve gotten bulk e-mail pitches that were obviously not targeted to me or my audience, but were vaguely related to coffee so of course I must be interested. The only good one I’ve ever gotten was a product review for a monthly coffee sample subscription – which started as a “try us out then write what you think” pitch, but I negotiated to only write something if I actually thought the product was worthwhile. Well, I never wrote anything about them, but I did appreciate that I was treated like a human being.

Bad pitches make me Hulk out.

Bad pitches make me rage.

Here’s the thing about these pitches: not one of them seemed to be familiar with my blog at all. They may, at best, have seen that I write blog posts, and the keyword “coffee” shows up in them. But I don’t review products, nor do I make great attempts to expand my audience – I mostly write for me, and I write about other people or local events more often than I write about a company or a product. Every pitch I’ve received has automatically triggered my SPAM alarm, because they’re written for some other blogger, surely, but not for me. The one product pitch I chose to entertain was because these people had found me on Twitter first, then found my blog, so they knew more about me when they approached. They seemed to think they could be my first product review, which would be exciting for me and my readers, but I wasn’t so ecstatic about taking orders, so I made sure I was the one who laid the ground rules. In the end, my lack of coverage was better for them and for me than my writing a negative review.

So how do you reach somebody like me? For one, know the platform. You can’t reach out to somebody writing about their most passionate subject and not know what you’re talking about. You can’t come to a coffee enthusiast who roasts their own beans at home and ask them to review your stale pre-ground capsules, you’re in the totally wrong market.

If we can both benefit, sell me on it!

If we can both benefit, sell me on it!

Second, just as InkyBee suggests, take some time to make it personal. If you think this blogger relationship is really worth it, then you’ve got to show them it’s a mutually beneficial situation, and you’re not out to reap your reward and cast them aside. This is an alley-oop, it needs cooperation and understanding to be successful for both parties. You’ve got to make your intentions known right out of the gate, and work with them to make sure you’re both on board and compatible. If you wouldn’t hang out with this blogger over a few beers to talk business, you’re better off moving on.

Are you a blogger? What are the best ways to reach you with a pitch?

Reaching Out to Bloggers

Reaching Out

Image courtesy of phanlop88 FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While many businesses would like to reach out to bloggers in order to tap new markets, target an existing market, or simply expand their revenue base, they often fail in their attempts to do so. In order to be successful in adding bloggers to their marketing mix, businesses need to find bloggers whose audience aligns with the business’ target audience, develop a relationship with these bloggers, and deliver meaningful content that is easy for bloggers to incorporate into their blogs.

Finding the Right Bloggers

It goes without saying that companies need to have defined their business objects and target markets before they begin looking for bloggers to help them reach these objectives and markets. Once companies have defined their objectives and markets, they must find bloggers who are already reaching out to these desired target markets. In The Art and Science of Blogger Relations, Brian Solis suggests that going after large general topic blogs is not usually a good way to reach more narrowly defined markets. Instead he recommends targeting the “Magic Middle” bloggers, who concentrate on smaller niche markets, yet still have sufficient reach to get their message out to a sizable audience. Among the tools available to help find these bloggers are Google blog search, Technorati, and blogrank. Once potential bloggers are found, it is important to spend time reading their blogs and verifying that they are indeed speaking to your desired audience in a tone that you can support. Don’t forget to spend time researching the individual behind the blog, because you will need this information as well.

Developing a Relationship with Bloggers

It is important to get your new relationship off on the right foot, so once you have learned all you can about the blogger and his/her blog, approach them by contacting them with a personal note (using their preferred means of communication), addressing them by name, and complimenting something in a specific blog post or on their blog site. Make sure to put yourself in their shoes and think about what value you can be bringing to their blog site in exchange for their help in moving you closer to your target audience. Help them see the value you can add by following them, commenting on their posts, publicizing their site, and becoming a part of the “local” community. Finally, make sure your personality shines through in your communications so that you don’t come off sounding like a corporate public relationship department. Always remember that you are building a relationship with a human being who, if you can find common ground, will prefer to interact with you as a fellow human being, and not with a faceless business entity.

Delivering Meaningful Content

Bloggers are always interested in receiving meaningful content that is applicable to their interests. First, you need to make sure that you are offering them unique content or at least content with a unique viewpoint. Offering them content on a topic that they just wrote about the week before is not the way to win them over. You need to act like Wayne Gretzky and skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it’s been, so remember to offer content which discusses new topics or revisits older ones in a way that makes them fresh and relevant again. Make the content you offer easy for the blogger to consume by stating your case succinctly and incorporating links, infographics, videos, podcasts, and some tweetable 140 character “sound bites”. If you regularly contribute good content and interesting ideas while continuing to build a strong human to human relationship, your blogger outreach is likely to succeed.

If you are a blogger, what motivates you to work with someone who reaches out to you? What deal breakers have you experienced in the past that have caused you to spurn attempts to reach out to you? What successes or failures have you experienced with blogger outreach partnerships?

Blog Better

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.

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

blogging - Flickr user hgjohnSome 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.)