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«So you want to be a blogstar?»

May 21, 2014 | Blog-Admin1 | Methods & Tools |

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Christina StuckyDid you know that today more than 40.5 million new blog posts go online every month? That’s about 1.3 million each day in an average month. In fact, every 60 seconds 60 new blogs are created worldwide. And over 409 million people view more than 14.4 billion blog pages each month. So what does that mean for you, the aspiring blogstar? Christina Stucky, Head Communication Management Unit, Media and Communication Trainer, SDC

 

It means you have competition – lots and lots of competition – for the ever fickle blog-reader’s attention. And: you’d better make your blog interesting if you don’t want your blog posts to be read only by your mother.

If you are undaunted by these facts, here a few questions to ask yourself and some dos before you download the WordPress software.

First things first

Before you begin ask yourself these questions – and give yourself honest answers:

  • Your goal: Why do you want to blog? What do you want to achieve with your blog? If your aim is world domination or a book contract, well, good luck with that. If you want a platform where you can express your views, share other interesting blogs or websites and engage with your readers, then a blog might just be the right tool for you.
  • Target audience: Whom do you want to reach? Who would be your preferred readers? If you don’t care that you only have one reader, I suggest you start a diary and keep it locked in your drawer. Successful blogs have at least one clear target audience. It helps writers to know whom they are writing for.
  • Topics: What have you got to say? What topic(s) or issue(s) do you want to write about? Where have you got some expertise? What are you passionate about? Unless you’re god’s gift to writing and can turn a piece on dry sump lubrication into a riveting read, better stick to topics that you know something about or at least get you excited.
  • Time: How much time can you realistically invest in blog-writing? How frequently will you be able to post? Successful blogstars post regularly. Once a month just won’t cut it in the fast-paced world of the World Wide Web.

pic Blog

 by Christina Stucky

 

 

The basics of blogging

Once you’ve decided to venture forth you need to look at the basics:

  •  Give your blog a catchy or interesting title.
  •  List the topics that your blog will cover (key words).
  • Let the readers know who you are.
  • Add a comment function and encourage your readers to post comments.
  • Announce coming blogs – this is particularly important when you can’t post frequently or regularly. Announcing upcoming blogs also gives you a deadline to stick to.
  • Write in your own authentic voice and use a more conversational tone so the readers feel they are being spoken to. Writing in first person (“I”) is OK.

 

Some things you ought to do

  • Do spend some effort on writing the titles for your blog posts. Ideally choose titles that are both informative and catchy.
  • Do keep your blog posts short. You may have unlimited space, but readers have limited time (and very short attention spans).
  • Do polish your texts and make them readable. Even the most crucial key messages will get lost in an incomprehensible unstructured blog post.
  • Do write a lead that either follows the news-lead format (most important information first) or is a well-written narrative lead (sets a scene, introduces a person, takes readers to a place, asks stimulating questions, etc.). You can also top each post with a one-sentence “take away”, much like a key message.
  • Do use sub-headers and the occasional bullet list to break up the wall of text.
  • Do use visual elements like pictures, films, multimedia, easy-to-understand graphs.
  • Do engage readers with a “call to action”, i.e. ask your readers to respond to a question you pose or to comment on a post. Blogs are not one-way communication instruments. It’s about dialogue.
  • Do refer to other blogs and ask other bloggers to refer to yours.
  • Do read other blogs for inspiration.
  • Do keep a running list of previous posts in the navigation of your blog and include the titles, not just the dates.
  • Do keep working on your blog, finding ways to improve it and to keep readers interested and engaged.

 

 For more inspiration, visit:

 


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Comments to“«So you want to be a blogstar?»”


  1. Nadia von Holzen says:

    Dear Christina, “Blogs make news a two ways street” (says the link ‘Blog in Plain English you shared). I really like that.

    I would like to raise a provocative question: Blogs or PDFs, how do we share information successfully: through blogs or PDFs?

    On the KM4dev list an interesting discussion is going on ‘PDFs that nobody reads’ (relating to the World Bank’s analysis Which World Bank Reports Are Widely Read?see http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/05/08/the-solutions-to-all-our-problems-may-be-buried-in-pdfs-that-nobody-reads/.). Christian Kreutz reflected this analysis in his blog http://cxed.net/1nb4fol and came to the conclusion that “It (blogs) is more feasible to know whether you have reached an audience or not; you are more exposed to direct feedback and more in contact with your readers, than hiding behind a PDF, where mostly only the executive summary matters.”

    Are we underusing blogs as communication and sharing tool within SDC? What if SDC is becoming a blogstar?

    Best, Nadia

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  2. Christina says:

    Hi Nadia, good to hear from you. Pdfs are definitely not a two-way communication tool – no doubt about that! But I don’t think you can replace Pdfs with blogs. They are two different things. As the Washington Post piece mentions, many of these Pdfs are mandated reports.
    What you could do is:
    – Write a short text, highlighting the key points of the Pdf text and post it on the website. No Pdf should be uploaded on a website without – at minimum – a few introductory sentences to tell the reader what the text is about and whether it’s worth the reader’s time to download it. (And we shouldn’t forget that many of our website readers live in countries where Internet connections are suboptimal.)
    – Complement the Pdf with a blog post (not an entire blog). As mentioned in the post above, the tone of a blog is generally more conversational, so the contents of a particular Pdf could be discussed in a blog post using that conversational tone – or it could reflect the opinion of the blog post writer about the Pdf text. That might also increase the chances of a Pdf being downloaded and read.

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