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Ten timeless tips for good blogging

Blogging

Over the past ten years, I must have delivered more blogging workshops than I care to remember. Colleagues, clients, external events, friends, and plenty of other sub-groups. And while the core principals haven’t changed that much, there’s still been a huge shift in the last ten years.

Looking over notes and materials ahead of a session with this year’s graduate intake, it’s striking how blogging’s evolved.

On one set of past notes I’ve written “Tumblr?” The next has set “Talk about Tumblr (if time).” In the next, there’s a slide on Tumblr. And in my most recent training, Tumblr’s just one examplee of different forms of blogging.

Then there’s the shift in the type of bloggers and blogging you get. When I first started blogging during my student days you had bloggers, often fiercely independent, on one side, mainstream media on the other and both regarded each other with suspicion.

Now you have brands, companies, mainstream media, startups, and the rest making the whole principle even harder to define.

We’re even now at a stage where the New York Times is moving towards closing its blogs because “the sections themselves now act like blogs”.

Then you’ve got other variations. Microblogging. Tumblr. Buzzfeed and all the imitators. I even use Google+ as a rough thought-dump ground when previously it would end up on my personal blog.

It’s perhaps no surprise that content marketing has become such a buzzword in 2013. There’s so much noise, so many different sources of news, that for brands, if you want to get your message out there, you (or your agency) have to do it yourself. And reap the search benefits, naturally.

A few tips

But all the way through the assorted training notes, there’s a few key words or phrases that have remained. Plus ça change.

They’re non-exhaustive, of course, as no two people blog the same. But they give a good rule of thumb to anybody new to blogging for a professional organisation.

In no particular order, these are:

  1. Keep it snappy and don’t fill up paragraphs with reams of dense text.
  2. Your first paragraph is the most important part of the article – make sure it’s engaging.
  3. Be personal towards your reader – address them direct, if appropriate. You’re discussing not broadcasting.
  4. Use images.
  5. Link to your sources and relevant articles.
  6. Know your audience and who you’re writing for.
  7. Back up your opinions with facts.
  8. Be confident
  9. Have a passion or interest in what you’re writing about.
  10. Be yourself.

There’s probably many more you could add (be brief, perhaps, given how few people make it to the end of an article). You may even disagree with some or all of the above.

But for the novice blogger, they’re decent rules of thumb, and for experienced bloggers… well, it never hurts to be reminded of good practice (even if I probably ignore one of two of the rules on a semi-regular basis).

Of course, there’s no substitute for actually blogging yourself. Which is why, over the next few weeks, you’ll be hearing a lot more on this blog from Mike and Laura, this year’s Ruder Finn graduates intake. I’m sure you’ll join me in welcoming them in a virtual sense, and please do get involved in the comments on their posts.

Image credit: Justin Russell

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