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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