Blogging Tips For Beginners

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Everyone has a blog these days, don’t they?

Beth teaches writing to her 7th and 8th grade students, and has asked me to help them establish and maintain a classroom blog.  What a great idea!

image courtesy of graphigh.com

image courtesy of graphigh.com

If you’re thinking about starting your own blog, here are a couple of tips on how to go about that.

Blogging Isn’t Writing

Blogging isn’t as strict a form of expression as writing novels or essays.  They’re much more personal.  And just as people are different, blogs are different.  They are reflective of the personality that creates them.  Posts should be person-centered, and use the word “I” a lot.

Essays need lots of citations, novels and novellas need character development and a story arc, but a blog post should be reasonably short (300-1000 words).  This, of course, is a personal choice.  Maybe your style is short, with punchy anecdotes or opinions.  Maybe you like to drone on and on.  You do you.

Remember that you want to get your point across to the reader while not being boring.

Picking A Topic

What are you passionate about?  Sports?  Movies?  Lawnmowers?  You could create and maintain a blog for years based solely on your cat.  Maybe you want to teach people how to do something.  How-to blogs are very popular.  You may be the expert in a certain area – use that specialized knowledge to fill a gap in the available cyber world.  Research your topic online and see where the holes are that you are specially qualified to fill.

Audience

image courtesy of 3qdigital.com

You should know who you’re writing to.  Many writers will say to pick an actual person or type of person to gear your posts to.   Are you writing to a die-hard Pats fan about Sunday’s game?  If so, your posts will sound different than if you’re writing to someone with little specific knowledge of the game.

Also, remember that you’re a young citizen of the world.  What you put on the internet will STAY on the internet, and could come back to haunt you if you use this power unwisely.  At this stage in the game (middle school), your language should be appropriate, and you must always avoid putting people down, bullying, or endorsing poor decisions/illegal behavior.  Your parents and teachers will likely read your words.  Choose them wisely.

Voice

image courtesy of cs.cmu.edu

If I read your blog post, I want to hear your voice.  I don’t want to feel like I’m reading a manual on how to rebuild a car engine, even if your post is about how to rebuild a car engine.  Let your personality shine through.  If you’re funny – be funny.  If you’re sarcastic – show me.

Images

Remember, the internet is a visual medium.  Writing nothing but words without some big and bright pictures is going to turn some people away.  You only have a few seconds for people to decide if they’re going to keep reading or not.  You’ll rank higher in search engine listings if people spend more time on  your page.

Headings

image courtesy of marketinghand.com

If your narrative lends itself to it, put in headings every so often so people can skim to the section that impacts them the most.   Maybe they don’t care to read the entire 800 words, and they’re just there to gain one kernel of knowledge.  A heading will help someone hone in on what they need.

Call To Action

image courtesy of thebuzzstand.com

One of the best parts of authoring a blog is the engagement with your audience.  I doubt you’re writing your posts to be safely kept away under your mattress.  That’s what a diary is for.  This is a web-log; a blog!  You want readership and you want to hear from them.   Finish your post with a question, a declaration, with some sort of “next step.”  Get your readers to be part of the experience.

p.s.  This post is 673 words long.

That’s not too bad, now is it?

Is there anything I missed?  Leave a comment below.

Well, what are you waiting for?  Get blogging!

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