The Online Journalism Handbook: the Essentials of Blogging

Posted on February 19, 2009 By newswala Topic: Media, Onlinejournalismhandbook, Blogging

This breezy guide takes you through all the importnt details about the blogging process: planning, what to write about, styles of blogging and more...

 

Planning a blog in 3 simple steps

Step 1: Your motives {WHY)
Why do you write online? What is the main purpose of your brand new blog/website?

* To inform
* To entertain
* To provide references to other sites
* To promote an organization
* To deliver news
* To serve an interest group
* To make money

Step 2: Your target audience (WHO)

* Who are the users?
* What do users want or need to do?
* What is the context in which the user is working?

Step 3: How do you organize information on your blog? (HOW)

Organize information in ways that people can find it easily:

“People don't want to wait. And they don't want to learn how to use a home page. People have to be able to grasp the functioning of the site immediately after scanning the home page, for a few ____ at most."
- Jakob Nielsen

Example of a minimal site structure that works : http://useit.com
Another great example is Google. Check out any Google page, for example the Google Blog http://googleblog.blogspot.com. Did you notice the simplicity and directness of presentation?

How to check whether your blog/site is hard to navigate

How authors must use blogs


Seth Godin's advice for authors

#1 Lower your expectations. The happiest authors are the ones that don't expect much.
#2 The best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out. Three years to build a reputation, build a permission asset, build a blog, build a following, build credibility and build the connections you'll need later.



Speedblogging 101: How to create 5 posts in 2 hours
Pressed for time but must update your blog? Many online writers put themselves under pressure because they must update their blogs and ping the blog search engines in order to improve the chances of Google indexing their blogs ASAP. Don't worry, you are not alone. Here's what smart bloggers do:

1. Create a top 5 list on any topic: Search Google, Google Blogsearch. You can up with 2 such lists in under an hour.
2. Summarize a breaking news item: When a major event happens, search engines search like mad for updates. Use sources like Google Trends to see what's hot right now.
3. Discuss pros and cons to an issue: e.g. the pros and cons of speedblogging, anyone? As I write this, I am bursting with ideas.
4. Ask readers a question and write a paragraph about it: e.g. "Did you like Slumdog millionaire?"
5. Start with quotation: e.g. "The meek shall inherit the earth, but not today". That's your headline.

Finally, create a skeletal how-to post, offering a simple to -do list for a problem the reader has. A thorough how-to list can take more than a couple of hours.

Suggestion: As an online journalist/blogger, you will always be strapped for time or idea or both.

 

One way to prepare for this certainty is to create a hand drawn mind map for a topic. It is simple: Just write the topic in the middle and create trees with branches out from it listing out sub -topics and sub-sub-topics for each.

Blogging topics 101: What shall I write about?

Here's one post on suggestions for the writer pressed for time and ideas. This time, it is a summary from Darren Rouse's wonderful Problogger.net site.

Write something,

# unique
# newsworthy
# first
# that makes those who read it smarter
# controversial
# insightful
# that taps into a fear people have
# that helps people achieve
# that elicit a response
# that gives a sense of belonging
# passionately
# that interprets or translates news for people
# inspirational
# that tells a story
# that solves a problem
# that gets a laugh
# that saves people time or money
# opinionated
# that is a resource
# about something ‘cool‘


For more topic inspiration, check these out:
100 Blog Topics I Hope YOU Write
50 Blog Topics Marketers Could Write For Their Companies

Darren Rouse: 20 Types of Blog Posts

Blogging Styles
The Technorati state of the blogosphere divides bloggers into thee broad categories: personal, professional and corporate.

Given below is a quick guide to blog topics and blogging styles written by various bloggers in these 4 years, which I think will be great help to you when you are thinking about what and how to write.

Mister Snitch's Seven blogging styles
1) Meme-du-jour bloggers comment on the high-profile ideas of the moment.
2) Caterers determine what an audience segment wants to hear, and pursue that theme aggressively.
3) Nichebloggers, aka localbloggers. Local bloggers focus on their locality, but we also consider someone focused on any particular subject a "local" blogger (that subject being the 'locality').
4) Internet guides, such as Instapundit, create little original material. Their strength is that they are trusted link finders/filters. MetaFilter and BoingBoing are other Internet guides.
5) The celebrity-blogger is someone whose site traffic comes from fame achieved outside of blogging. While some bloggers achieve notoriety because of blogging, that has not become much of a factor.
6) The service blogger performs a service, often to what topics people are blogging about. e.g. techmeme.com
7) The long-tail blogger is the rarest of successful breeds. This style requires consistent blogging over a long period of time (hence the rarity in a fairly new medium) and often blogging on all sorts of topics hoping to get traffic from Google.

Read about these styles in detail here

Also read: The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging ... And When To Use Each One

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