5 tips for blog beginners

Typewriter, by avlxyz on Flickr

Craig Stolz, formerly a journalist at The Washington Post, has been blogging for one year. On the occasion of his blog’s anniversary, he wrote this succinct list of lessons learned, which is rather brilliant:

  1. A personal blog is as valuable to the writer as the reader.
  2. Entry titles are as important as content. Titles should be dead-clear.
  3. Don’t expect your best content to be rewarded. Accept that blog audiences are so unpredictable and that some of your most valuable gems will stay buried.
  4. Stand on the roof in a thunderstorm holding up a rake. You never know when lightning will strike, but you can improve your odds. (Definitely go to Stolz’s post and read the further explanation of this one!)
  5. Write short and use pictures.

Just a few comments:

Tip No. 1 cannot be emphasized enough among journalists and journalism students. Writing a blog will make you better at everything related to being a good journalist. Word. You will become a better writer, researcher, investigator, skeptic, listener, communicator — and editor. You will also become better at everything concerning the Web, if you really apply yourself to blogging. I speak from personal experience on this.

Tip No. 2 has a direct relationship to No. 3, and I think we could learn something from Stolz’s own post. His post title: “Five Lessons from a Year of Blogging.” My title for this post: “5 tips for blog beginners.” Now, think about a person typing search tems into Google. Lessons and blogging? Or tips and blog? Your choice of keywords in the post title is of paramount importance to the findability of the post itself. Every word counts. The title also needs to be short — five or six words is an ideal length.

No. 5 is as great as the immensely famous tip from Strunk and White — “Omit needless words.” Yeah.

See also:

8 Comments on “5 tips for blog beginners

  1. “formerly a journalist”? His “about” statement says he’s a former Post editor, but I (and I would hope he) would argue that he’s still a journalist.

  2. You’d rather I move the adverb two words to the right, wouldn’t you. 🙂

  3. Five very good points Mindy,the first being the most important.As you say it gets you to research better.
    I would also add to make sure that you comment on other people’s blogs

  4. Mindy–Thanks for the kind words–and for showing how my own headline can be improved. Amazing to see how a sharp mind can always make things better. –Craig

  5. @Nigel – Probably there are a couple of tips that could be added (at the risk of gilding a lily). I agree that commenting on others’ blogs is important, but first, one must READ others’ blogs!

    Sometimes my students, in the middle of their semester-long blogging assignment, confess that they never read any blogs. Wryly, I respond that that might be why their own blogs aren’t getting better.

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