101 Creative Rules for the Modern Blogger

Blog Freeze by Peter Giblett from CC0 Public domain images
If you write a blog, it is clear that every few min­utes the experts are rec­om­mend­ing a new approach. So, just what are the rules of blog­ging today? Here is my inter­pre­ta­tion of being a good blog­ger, the rules of mod­ern blog­ger must adapt and adopt new approaches.

Modern Blogger: Enthuses Readers

  1. Question from Pexels CC0 Public domainPeo­ple read blogs to edu­cate them­selves (per­son­al­ly or pro­fes­sion­al­ly) so, edu­cate them.
  2. Open with a BANG! You need both a great head­line and great opening.
  3. Don’t be shal­low. Skim­ming the issues may be okay for oth­er peo­ple, but you, the mod­ern blog­ger, should delve in and dis­cuss details.
  4. Brevi­ty is the ene­my of blog­ging. The post needs to be as long as is nec­es­sary to explain the top­ic fully.
  5. Do you have some­thing orig­i­nal to say? You shouldn’t make the same points oth­er peo­ple already have, take your thoughts one step fur­ther, make new points, pro­vide new ideas.
  6. Is there a point to your mate­r­i­al? Each piece you write should have a point.
  7. Focus on the right things: It is easy to be led down a par­tic­u­lar path by oth­ers. Pub­lish what mat­ters to you. It is bet­ter to be pos­i­tive than be neg­a­tive on your work.
  8. Pub­lish reg­u­lar­ly (month­ly, week­ly, dai­ly) the fre­quen­cy does not mat­ter what is impor­tant is that new mate­r­i­al is reg­u­lar­ly added. The prin­ci­ple is post reg­u­lar­ly, but don’t strain yourself.
  9. Blogs need a theme, spe­cial­ty, or niche they relate to. You can write on oth­er sub­jects, but the writ­ing for your blog needs to be focused. It is not a gen­er­al writ­ing site. Some writ­ers have two or three blogs on dif­fer­ent sub­jects they are knowl­edge­able on.
  10. Reach out to oth­ers, fel­low experts in your sub­ject area, get to know them, let them know about the things you have recent­ly pub­lished and what you intend to publish.
  11. Be authen­tic. Your pas­sion on the sub­ject needs to shine through.
  12. Link your pro­fes­sion­al work into your blog. This can mean ensur­ing oth­ers know you are avail­able for hire.

Make the Quality Count

  1. Pay atten­tion to spelling and gram­mar. We all make mis­takes but by pay­ing close atten­tion you should reduce the num­ber of pub­lished errors.
  2. It is the duty of the mod­ern blog­ger to make sure you posts are good qual­i­ty. What­ev­er the sub­ject make sure your use of Eng­lish is exemplary.
  3. Use per­sua­sive words. There are cer­tain words that project emo­tion or pow­er. Using such words empow­ers your work.
  4. Use clear lan­guage. Even though you have a spe­cial­ist sub­ject it doesn’t mean you should write using jargon.
  5. Use prop­er punc­tu­a­tion. full stops, com­mas, semi-colons, and colons help to break up the work.
  6. Your mate­r­i­al needs struc­ture. In order to com­mu­ni­cate a con­cept your thoughts needs to be organ­ised, fol­low a log­i­cal order, show all the rel­e­vant points.
  7. Use sen­tences of vari­able length. Some long, some short, but each prop­er­ly constructed.
  8. Use para­graphs of vari­able length. A para­graph allows the writer to explain some­thing. Once explained move on to the next mat­ter in a new paragraph.
  9. Pro­vide killer bul­let points. Peo­ple for­get the pow­er of a bul­let point to focus the reader’s attention.
  10. Use sec­tions. Sec­tions head­ers should be in Head­er 2 (often referred to as H2). This will inform the read­er the idea behind each sec­tion in turn.
  11. The words in the sec­tion head­er should focus a reader’s atten­tion.
  12. Proof­read every­thing. Avoid the urge to push the “Pub­lish” but­ton too early.
  13. Proof­read and edit every­thing again.
  14. As a rule of thumb your mate­r­i­al should be proof­read, edit­ed and checked 5 times before publication.
  15. If you need assis­tance use the gram­mar check­er.

Modern Blogger: Headlines Matter

  1. A short, snap­py, inter­est­ing title will bring in readers.
  2. Chal­lenge people’s think­ing. When the major­i­ty of head­lines show one view it is time to take the oppo­site approach.
  3. Lead, don’t fol­low. You post should offer a unique per­spec­tive, so should your headline.

Modern Blogger: Design Matters

Logo - Random by Peter Giblett
  1. Have a well designed, visu­al logo.
  2. Have a well designed Fav­i­con, the icon which appears on the brows­er tab. It is square, nor­mal­ly 512 x 512 pix­els in size.
  3. It must be easy to nav­i­gate through the var­i­ous pages of your blog, par­tic­u­lar­ly the home page, which is where inter­est­ed read­ers go when they find some­thing interesting.
  4. Cre­ate a beau­ti­ful blog, one that is pho­to­genic, the lay­out should be pleas­ing to the eye and assist nav­i­ga­tion. As your blog grows into hun­dreds of posts it should con­tin­ue to be easy to find relat­ed posts.
  5. The design of your blog is impor­tant. It should allow easy access to oth­er pages on your site. Hav­ing a front page with a slid­er allows read­ers to get a visu­al image of the posts you have recent­ly published.
  6. Hav­ing the right colours can be impor­tant, don’t put up with colours you don’t like.
  7. AVOID white on black and red on green or oth­er colour com­bi­na­tions where cer­tain peo­ple would have prob­lems read­ing your site.
  8. Have a respon­sive design. To be clear “respon­sive” in this con­text means the site will adapt to look good on all devices types includ­ing mobile phones, tablets, and lap­tops, even if you don’t use them read­ers will.
  9. It should have clear descrip­tive, one word, menu items.
  10. Big­ger fonts are bet­ter. Con­sid­er the read­er who has vision problems.

Modern Blogger: is it Navigable?

  1. Blogs should be lim­it­ed to 10 or 12 cat­e­gories MAXIMUM. These are sub­ject mat­ter group­ings and should be seen as a nat­ur­al way to sub­di­vide your blog. If your blog has 100 cat­e­gories then read­ers will have trou­ble find­ing things.
  2. Key words or tags are the way to find posts with­in your blog. They relate to the the “Search” dia­log at the top of your blog. These are more free form than categories.
  3. At the end of your post, if you have oth­er posts dis­cussing relat­ed mate­r­i­al then you should pro­vide a hyper­link to these pages. under a head­ing like “See Also” or “Relat­ed”. Do not rely on your theme to do this.

Etiquette and Writing Conventions

  1. Unconventional shoes by Julia Kim on Unsplash CC0 Public DomainAvoid writ­ing in all cap­i­tals. Peo­ple con­sid­er it as shout­ing and bad eti­quette. You may empha­sise a sin­gle word by cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion, par­tic­u­lar­ly in a head­line, but nev­er more than a sin­gle word.
  2. Con­sid­er which fonts to use, as a gen­er­al rule stay with the default fonts used by the theme. Change the theme fonts if you don’t like them.
  3. Every­thing you write needs the use of high­lights. Eyes find plain text bor­ing and eas­i­ly switch off.
  4. High­light impor­tant sec­tions of text using bold, ital­ics, colour and bold colours.
  5. Have white space or pic­tures. This allows a lit­tle time for the eyes to rest.
  6. Be dif­fer­ent by the points you make.
  7. Every post MUST have a hyper­link.
  8. Make it sim­ple, remove the obvi­ous but add the meaningful.
  9. All blog posts should include pictures/diagrams. There are many sites pro­vid­ing pub­lic domain pic­tures that you should have no prob­lem obtain­ing images, if you don’t have them.
  10. Use sec­tions. This shows the read­er that there is a log­i­cal order to your work.
  11. Lists, like this one, are a great way to help the read­er scan for the infor­ma­tion they desire.
  12. It is con­sid­ered impo­lite to delete com­ments, yet if they are rude, make big­ot­ed remarks, or con­tain adver­tis­ing, then you are with­in your rights to delete them.
  13. Every once in a while have a “hol­i­day spe­cial,a post that will make every­one smile, pro­vide a quiz, or per­haps have a poll. The idea of the hol­i­day spe­cial is to change the tone

Modern Blogger: Discuss

  1. Have an excit­ing land­ing page for read­ers, answer their questions.
  2. Your post should edu­cate the read­er. It is best to ful­ly cov­er the sub­ject under dis­cus­sion, but occa­sion­al­ly you may need two or three posts for a full discussion.
  3. Arti­cles should be as long as nec­es­sary to make the point you wish to make. Gen­er­al­ly, a 2,500 word arti­cle is bet­ter than a 200 word one as it edu­cates and informs the reader.
  4. Be thor­ough. A long, thor­ough, post will attract read­ers. One 35,000 word, tech­ni­cal post, had viral read­er­ship of hun­dreds of thou­sands of read­ers per day.
  5. Ensure you have a voice, write about the sub­jects you are pas­sion­ate about.
  6. Don’t com­mit libel. Just because you have a voice does not mean you have the right to make accu­sa­tions about anoth­er per­son. Your words can be con­sid­ered libelous.
  7. Cre­ate dia­grams that show the steps that need to be tak­en. There are many soft­ware prod­ucts you already use that can help you with cre­at­ing dia­grams, for exam­ple Microsoft Pow­er­point, Microsoft Word.
  8. Tell a sto­ry. Even if you are writ­ing a fac­tu­al piece or report­ing some news it is impor­tant to tell the sto­ry and why it may be crucial.
  9. Good posts include a call to action. It is not esen­tial but it makes a good post even bet­ter. The call to action can be the ingre­di­ent that makes a blog post worth it all
  10. When you quote or talk about anoth­er person’s work, it is good man­ners to pro­vide a link to their page. For most blogs you don’t have to for­mal­ly cite their work, but it is best to men­tion them by name and include the name of their post, along­side the quote you use. The quote you use should be at the most 3 sentences.
  11. If you plan to use more than a small quote, then you should seek per­mis­sion from the orig­i­nal author. Tell them the parts you wish to copy and how you plan to attribute their work (includ­ing a link to their page). If you seek per­mis­sion then ensure you retain a copy of the email (or let­ter if they still send those) grant­i­ng per­mis­sion. This is essen­tial if there is lat­er a dispute.
  12. Pictures/Diagrams should empha­sise the point being made. Pic­tures will rest the eye, but tey must not be a distraction.
  13. If you use a pub­lic domain art­work then ensure you men­tion the artists name in either the cap­tion or Alt text. It is best to do this even when the site pro­vid­ing the pic­ture says “no attri­bu­tion required”.

Call to Action?

  1. What you say should moti­vate peo­ple, but it doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly link to a call to action. Most blogs are not mar­ket­ing tools.
  2. Include a call to action, when appro­pri­ate.

Develop and Encourage Readers

  1. You need to build a rela­tion­ship with your read­ers.
  2. Encour­age read­ers to com­ment. Either explic­it­ly ask them to com­ment or ask ques­tions of your read­ers that are not answered, ques­tions designed to draw out comments.
  3. Make sure you home page pro­vides a great advert for your writ­ing — it should look like an on-line magazine.
  4. Iden­ti­fy reader’s needs and focus on them when you write.
  5. Be a part of a com­mu­ni­ty of experts on your sub­ject mat­ter, com­mu­ni­cate with oth­ers in your field, learn from them and don’t repeat their mistakes.
  6. When a read­er leaves a com­ment on your page it is good man­ners to reply. Although you should nev­er reply with a “thank you”. Reply by mak­ing a mean­ing­ful point.

Modern Blogger: Performance

  1. It is bet­ter to have your site inde­pen­dent­ly host­ed than use the free host­ing avail­able at Word­Press or Blogger.
  2. If bud­get is a chal­lenge then do host with Word­Press or Blog­ger with a view to upgrad­ing later.
  3. One of the rea­sons you should avoid free host­ing providers for your blog is that their ser­vices are unre­li­able, which means access to your site could be down as often as it is up.
  4. Ensure your blog loads quick­ly — this depends on 2 things. 1) the host you use, and 2) the theme you select. Some hosts per­form bet­ter than oth­ers, but it can be tough to change hosts with­out added cost. There are many themes, often many hav­ing sim­i­lar func­tion­al­i­ty, Change themes if you must.
  5. Make it easy for read­ers to fol­low you.
  6. Avoid float­ing bars or but­tons. They impact per­for­mance and can annoy read­ers, espe­cial­ly if they obscure part of the page they wish to read.
  7. If you are going to include social media but­tons place them at the bot­tom of your posts, where peo­ple can eas­i­ly find and use them.
  8. Ensure you have an “About” page. It should give a bio about you, show what you are pas­sion­ate about and some infor­ma­tion about why a read­er should con­nect with you. Update this page regularly.

Modern Blogger: Visibility & Search

  1. Facts by Geralt CC0 Public DomainPri­ori­tise SEO, Under­stand how to get your work recog­nised by Google.
  2. Don’t repeat ear­li­er arti­cles! You wrote about a sub­ject five years ago, which is now becom­ing pop­u­lar again. Do not repub­lish your ear­li­er post, cre­ate a new one.
  3. Do not re-blog oth­er people’s posts. I used to be a fan of reblog­ging then I realised the SEO impact it has on oth­er people’s work, reduc­ing their per­for­mance on search engines. If you wish to point peo­ple at the work of oth­ers then, either: 
    1. Write your own arti­cle refer­ring to theirs, adding you own wis­dom along the way, or
    2. Include a link to them in a web-roundup arti­cle of your own where you talk about the con­tri­bu­tion that oth­er peo­ple have made on an array of sub­jects, see my Web Explored posts.
  4. How many Links exist to you own pages? Inter­nal links are an essen­tial to improv­ing your SEO per­for­mance. Link to relat­ed mate­r­i­al that is still valid. These serve to deep­en the over­all val­ue of your site.

Modern Blogger: Publicity & Social Media

  1. Talk to peo­ple about what you are doing. Do you have a busi­ness card for the site? Hand them out when appropriate.
  2. Have pow­er­ful head­lines that draw the read­ers in.
  3. Be bold with your social media post­ings, link in blog posts.
  4. Fol­low back, when read­ers fol­low you, take a look at their blog, make time for them — per­haps leav­ing a com­ment or two.
  5. Dis­trib­ute your con­tent. Devel­op a habit of telling peo­ple about your posts via social media. Devel­op a pub­lic­i­ty sched­ule. Post and re-post your work.
  6. Learn how to use hash­tags.
  7. When pub­li­cis­ing your blog posts use rel­e­vant social media hash­tags.
  8. Name your social fol­low­ers when you post. Nam­ing peo­ple on social media is a form of flat­tery. Flat­tery can gain your read­ers.
  9. Learn how to use social book­mark­ing using Red­dit, Stum­ble­Upon, and others.

Solid Advice for the Modern Blogger

  1. Be care­ful about how much pro­mo­tion­al con­tent you pub­lish. Affil­i­ate pro­grams may seem a good way to make mon­ey but they are not the rea­son the read­er comes to your site.
  2. Pro­mote your own work. If you have pub­lished a book, or e-book, then you should let peo­ple know even if the sub­ject mat­ter is not iden­ti­cal to your blog. Try to adver­tise it on the side­bar with pic­ture and short text.
  3. Your blog will evolve as you evolve. You may have writ­ten some­thing in the past that you think dif­fer­ent­ly about today. That is okay, your views evolve over time. Do not delete the old post, but you could write a new one explain­ing why you feel dif­fer­ent­ly today.
  4. Don’t for­get your blog’s birthday/anniversary. Cel­e­brate it and cel­e­brate your successes.
  5. It is a good idea to encour­age young­sters to cre­ate their own blog. They should learn the do’s and dont’s. Know how to pro­tect their iden­ti­ty, their loca­tion etc. Encour­age them to have a hap­py and safe blog­ging life. Chil­dren need encour­age­ment, but they also need to know you are their ally.
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