I’m flabbergasted. I am. Does this ever happen to you at work? You swear you wrote that document or turned in that report. But when you go to look for it, it’s not there. That happened to me yesterday when Shelley Nelson, the editor of the Superior Telegram, asked me if we had any kind of a blogger’s guide she could give to bloggers in her neck of the woods. I assured her, that “yes, I’m sure I have something like that.”
Wrong. Well, I do have the blogger’s guide in about 10 different places. I found dos and don’ts, pointers, and guidelines, in Power Point presentations, blog posts, Word documents and of course, in my brain. But I have never compiled them in one place for your reading pleasure. Until now. So with only a little further adieu here is: The Do’s and Don’ts of Blogging on Areavoices:
- DO set up an “About” page on your blog. It’s easy to do and is the best way for reader’s to know more about you and what your blog is all about.
- DO personalize the look of your blog. We have many different themes from which to choose. Pick one that suits you or customize your blog even more by changing the header and background with your own pictures. (Make sure you pick a theme template that allows you to change the header and background. Twenty-Ten is one theme that allows you to do that.)
- DO set up the discussion section of your blog to have “Moderated Comments.” This allows you to read someone’s comment before it appears on your blog. You can allow unmoderated comments, but you could lose some control over the tone of your blog.
- DO write as often as you’d like. The best blog posts are ones in which the author wanted to write. Don’t blog one day just for the sake of blogging.
- DO think about your audience. What do they want to read? Will they find this blog post entertaining, helpful or boring? Would you want to read this post if someone else had written it?
- DO include pictures and video in your blog post as much as possible.
- DO write in a casual tone. Formal language doesn’t fly in the blogosphere. Pretend like you’re writing for your friend.
- DO keep it shorter rather than longer. 500 to 750 word blog posts are best.
- DO give readers links on where to go for more information.
- DO know how to use effective tag words in your blog post. After each post, you should go to the box on the side of the dashboard which asks you to include tag words. These are words which describe what you just wrote about. If I write about “Fast dinners on a Budget” I’ll want to tag it “Food,” “Family,” “Money” at the very least. Effective tagging is the most important factor in how you will be displayed on our websites and you’re more likely to be found on Google.
- DO pay the MOST attention to your headlines and first couple of sentences. That is what the reader will see. They should convince the reader to read more.
- DO know what makes a good headline: attention-getting, question-asking, or lists (IE: The top ten Paul Newman movies).
- DO make your post reader friendly. They should be able to skim your content and still get some of your message. Consider using subheadlines, bullet points, pictures, and quotes.
- DO follow other bloggers. Be part of the blogging community.
- DO comment on other blog posts even if it’s just a “like your blog” or “I agree.” People like to know that they’re being read.
- DO read the comments you get on your blog. You don’t always have to approve them. But you should read them.
- DO use your blog together with Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
- DON’T plagiarize. If you like a blog post or article written by someone else don’t pass it off as your own. Simply write that you found an article or post you liked and then link to that original article. You can add your own comments to it as well.
- DON’T get too long-winded. We live in a fast-pasted world. Most people won’t take the time to read a War and Peace length blog post. If you have 10 points to make consider writing 10 shorter blogs in a series rather than one LONG blog post with all 10. Again, 500 to 750 word posts are optimal.
- DON’T give away too much on Facebook and Twitter. Use Facebook and Twitter to tease people about your blog post. Throw out a question on Facebook and post the link to your blog post to make them want to get the answer.
- DON’T be a jerk. You’re a nice person right? So think twice before you leave a nasty comment on someone else’s blog. It’s cool to add to the discussion, to be a voice of thoughtful dissent. But launching verbal stink bombs (IE: You’re an idiot!) is just very schoolyard bully.
And finally DO have fun and DON’T beat yourself up if don’t get all of this right away. It’s a learning process, but it’s worth it!
By the way, I’d love to hear if any of our veteran bloggers can add to this list. What do you think is the most important Do or Don’t? Do you disagree with me on any of these?