Submitted by Sue Waters, publisher of The Edublogger
Ever had one of those days where the words just refuse to behave? Where it feels like every word you use is the wrong word? And you continuously rewrite the same sentences.
Worse Still! You finally finish the post believing it’s your best ever only to find no-one comments.
The unfortunate fact of blogging is writing good blog posts is more than just the words. Spend time observing probloggers and you’ll see they use various strategies to make each post count. If you want to use blogging for your personal learning you need to be effective at engaging and having conversations with readers.
So here’s my first 5 tips for better blog posts:
# 1 Use Short Paragraphs
I can’t count on all my fingers and toes the number of posts I’ve tried to read that are just one paragraph! One incredibly long paragraph. What The? And many of these were written by educators.
Posts with really long paragraphs are really hard to read making it less likely for your post to be read and/or your readers to miss the point of your post.
- Break your posts up with paragraphs
- The more paragraphs the better!
- Short paragraphs are better than long
- Make the first sentence of each paragraph make me want to read the rest of the paragraph!
#2 Use Headings!
Use headings and where appropriate bullet points and number lists to break up the post into manageable bit size chunks.
Wordpress, which Edublogs uses, provides Heading Styles. Use them! Which you use will depend on your theme.
Trial each heading style to select which visually looks the best:
- Write a test post
- Use each Heading Style
- Click on Save and Continue Editing
- Click Preview to see what each looks like in a post
Heading 3 works the best with my blog themes.
#3 Remember to Hyperlink
If you write about an article or another blogger’s post link to it! Why? Because your readers often want to check it out in more details.
When you link to someone else’s post it’s good practice to mention their name, link their name to their blog, and then link to the post you’re referring to (it’s also a good way of getting people to visit your site).
Here’s an example of hyperlinking (click on each to see why I used):
Check out this example Larry created for how Scribe can be used for Talking Stories (press the play on the Listen toolbar on the bottom right hand side below categories and tags).
AVOID using underlining when writing posts because your readers expect all underlined text is hyperlinked.
#4 Always Comment Back To Readers On Your Own Posts!
If readers have made time to comment on your posts the very minimum you should do is respond back to your readers (ideally each reader) in the comments on your post. This is very important for building your blog’s community; it demonstrates that you value your readers and their input.
Commenting back also increases community interaction. Look at how Lee is interacting with her readers on “What Posts Stimulate Readers To Comment?” and while you are there make sure you leave your thoughts on what makes readers comment.
There are well known edubloggers who almost never respond or acknowledge their readers who take time to write comments or link to them. Sorry but I have to say this! Shame on you. Not good enough! Your readers are part of your personal learning community and you should be showing you value them.
Please don’t interpret my words to imply I’m saying all well known edubloggers are like this! There are ones that do and the ones that don’t comment back. You also get to see some incredible well known edubloggers who spend considerable time helping and mentoring others!
#5 Subscribe To Your Own Blog Feed!
Always, always, always subscribe to your own blog feed using your feed reader (e.g. Google Reader, Bloglines, NetVibes)!
Your blog has two main audiences:
- Those who read your post on your blog
- Those who read your post via a feed reader
Your blog posts have to look good, visually, for both audiences. Subscribing to your own blog feed means you’ll see your posts how they are seen by your subscribers. This allows you to troubleshoot issues with font sizes, image size/alignment and removal of content (e.g. embeds like SlideShare, Voicethreads and videos are often removed by feed readers).
You’ll never know about your blog feed issues unless you subscribe to your own blog (check out this example of what can happen when your blog feed goes astray and you don’t realise).
PERSONAL RANT! — Never ever, ever set your blog feed to partial feeds! With the number of posts I read do you honestly think I have time to click on READ MORE?
It will be part of an ongoing series and since we each have a different definition of what makes a “good blog post” I would love you to share your thoughts.
So can you please tell us about:
- What are your 3 most important tips for writing better blog posts?
- What blog post recently has made you want to comment and what was it about this post that engaged you?
- Has a post recently inspired you to write your own post? What was it about the post that made you take action?
This article was originally posted on The Edublogger at http://theedublogger.edublogs.org/2008/04/27/heres-my-first-five-tips-for-writing-better-blog-posts-what-are-yours/ by Sue Waters.