13 May 2014

DTE's Blogging Best Practices

Partly for fun, but mostly to fulfill a course assignment, I'm going to share some blogging best practices. They'll consist of content, structure, and media selection. Most of these practices will come from my own experience, mostly reading, and partly writing blogs. A few might come from an external source. Here we go.

(I'm using a page break, #4 on the list.)

1. Be yourself.

After all the excruciating academic writing I have to put up with in grad school, the last thing I want to do is endure it in my leisure time. Additionally, chances are you're blogging for your own pleasure. It'll be a lot more enjoyable if you drop the academic tone and just write the way you talk.

About.com says to "choose the appropriate tone." I guess I'm talking to people like me who are teacher hobby bloggers. Hobgers?

2. Use correct spelling and grammar.

I know I shouldn't, but I can't really help the loss of respect that comes with glaring spelling and grammar problems. It just reeks of lazy and uneducated writing, and why should I care what a lazy or uneducated person has to say? But with me it's more of a three strike scenario. I'll overlook the occasional ensure/insure problem. I'll forgive people when they conjugate verbs for the prepositional object rather than the subject of the sentence. And some improper grammar I'll flat out ignore myself, in particular the whole business of not ending sentences with prepositions.

But if your writing is as bad as my 14 year old students, it'll be hard to overcome.

3. Avoid cliche attention grabbers.

Everything you thought you knew about ___________ is wrong. 7 things to avoid if you want to ________. Amazing new ___________ that will change everything.

Give me a break. Most of the time, some study showed a slight correlation between two things, and bloggers and paid writers try to make it sound like there's a global paradigm shift.

I admit, sometimes I'm a sucker for a good list (see the next tip), but when 90% of the blog titles have some variation of the above formulas, the other 10% will start grabbing my attention.

Back to the go-to link, About.com says to pique curiosity and get attention while avoiding the bait-and-switch.

4. Use headlines and page breaks.

Better yet, make a list. Yep, nailed that one right here. When people read blogs, chances are they'll look through all the headlines first, then decide whether to read it. (About.com calls it scannable.) If there's a list, I'll usually skip right over the introduction and head straight to the list.

Many blogs work similarly to Blogger in that, by default, every post is displayed in its entirety. This makes the blog itself non-scannable. To avoid this, you can use a page break. It makes it so the blog displays your post up to your page break, and the visitor has to click on the post to see the rest.

5. Use pictures.

It should come as no surprise that posts with pictures are more attractive and interesting. Most people, myself included, have little clue about what you're allowed to use on your blog. It's unlikely that you'll have a large stock of your own images to use for each topic you cover, it's time-consuming to design your own graphics. For all these reasons, just use a site like pixabay that provides public domain images that, as far as I know, you don't even have to attribute. (It's where I've gotten all of my pictures for this post.) The trick is using the right search term for what will be relevant and interesting.

There. You're a blogging expert.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the use of pictures and humor in your post. I can tell that you definitely have experience with blogging. The page breaks and other attention grabbing tricks definitely work! I also really like how you include the clickable links, I need to figure out how to do that. I am very new to blogging and most computer related stuff. I am still pretty confused about copyright/plagiarism rules, my English teacher pretty much said it's important to cite everything that isn't your own work. So I wonder if you really are right about the public domain images site. When people use cliches I usually just skip over what they write too. Your post was great, but you forgot to include some safety ideas for blogging. Overall I really like your blog, I didn't really like Blogger after reviewing it, but you've made it look really nice and usable.