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How to Write a Blog Post

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At WordCamp Ottawa on April 27, 2013, I talked about how to write a blog post, which is a topic that often gets lost among all the discussions on design and functionality. The quality of content is really one of the core reasons people come to a website. A lot of us get stuck when writing posts, so I came up with some ways to generate ideas, decide how to package them into a blog-like format, and then finally write them. There are also some tips for streamlining your workflow in WordPress.

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How to Write a Blog Post

  1. 1. How to Write aBlog PostDavid HamiltonApril 2013
  2. 2. Hello, I‟m David, and I‟m a word-nerd.david@davidihamilton.com(Image by Robert Occhialini)
  3. 3. What is a blog?“A blog is merely a tool that lets you do anything from change the world toshare your shopping list…. Blogs are whatever we make them. Defining „blog‟is a fool‟s errand.” – Jeff JarvisNew-ish categories of blogs expand what‟s possibleincluding photo blogs, video blogs (or vlogs), andmicroblogs (like Twitter).Blogs are similar to a lot of things, and they can be manythings, but it‟s important to pay attention to how they‟redifferent.“The medium is the message”– Marshall McLuhan
  4. 4. Blog-ish tendencies• Personal• Regular Posting• Unconstrained by Length (but there are attention constraints)• Hyperlink to other resources• Community Involvement (often unavoidable)• Less Institutional; Less Editorial Oversight
  5. 5. Why do people read blogs?Everyone wants goodcontent. Good content isusually either a solutionto a problem, orsomething that‟sentertaining.Solution toproblemEntertainmentTrust“The currency of blogging isauthenticity and trust… you pay folksto blog about a product and youcompromise that”–Jason Calacanis
  6. 6. Coming up with ideas
  7. 7. Where to look for ideasIdeas are everywhere.•Can you relate an experience to something larger?•Change your point of view.•Think about your own experiences.•Think beyond yourself: It‟s not always about you!•Research points/counter-points.•Read lots – you never know what connections you‟ll make.•Let the info come to you by setting up alerts for your subject.•Get out and talk to people.•Think of your audience.
  8. 8. Types of postsYou‟ve got an idea – now you have to mash it into a blog. Find the best way topresent it.Types of blog posts1. List post2. Personal anecdote/opinion/essay3. A Dialogue/Q&A4. Summary post5. Link post6. Review post7. Advice post8. Video/photo post
  9. 9. Make a PlanDo some research.Come up with questions.Create an outline, and break things down into manageable pieces.Don‟t tackle too much in one post. You can do a better job making it a seriesof posts.
  10. 10. Beginnings, Middlesand EndsPutting it all together – one piece at a time.
  11. 11. BeginningsMost blog posts have at least an intro paragraph or blurb.Make it informative.Make it enticing. Pitch it!Explain why you‟re writing this. Why you?Establish what the post is about and what will be covered.Set the stageYou‟re also setting up the reader‟s expectations!“In this post, I‟ll explain the way I became a saint (or pariah) in my industry.”“Follow along to find out why I think this government policy works/doesn‟t work.”
  12. 12. MiddlesDecide what points to cover.Give it a logical progression.Structure your post with headings. (WordPress makes this easy!)Your plan could change.
  13. 13. EndsConclusion paragraphs are where you summarize your post – it sharpens thepoint.It also allows you to relate this post to other things in the world.It can raise other questions. Don’t make your blog the be-all-end-all. End ablog with questions.You can give a preview to your next related posts.“A blog is in many waysa continuingconversation.”– Andrew Sullivan
  14. 14. Rewrite and rewrite some more“I write one page ofmasterpiece to ninety-onepages of shit. I try to putthe shit in thewastebasket.”- Ernest Hemingway
  15. 15. Editing tipsThere‟s no great writing without great editing.Write clearly, and simply.If something can be written shorter and retain the same meaning, by allmeans shorten it.Use the active voice, not passive.Have the power to delete – especially sentences you love.Don‟t stretch the truth. Check your facts!
  16. 16. Making bloggingeasier & better!Use WordPress to streamline your bloggingworkflow for yourself, and make better userexperiences.
  17. 17. WordPress hacks for bloggersSetup your WordPress blog to make it easy to write when inspirationstrikes1. Use the “Blog This” bookmarklet. When you find a website or blogpost that you2. Set the default image/video dimensions to the width of your blog.3. Use the Headings tags - for your main points, use H2, then if you havea sub-point, use H3. This is good for search engines (esp. withkeywords in headings), but also for readers how may want to skim yourpost.4. Use post excerpts to tease site visitors into reading your whole post.
  18. 18. The “Blog This” bookmarkletAdd this to your browser‟sfavourites bar to blog about sitesyou‟ve found.
  19. 19. Set the default image/video dimensionsMake this the maximumwidth of your blog too.The width of your blog.Width for accent pic.
  20. 20. Use the Headings tags3. Click PARAGRAPH4. Choose a heading.2. Select heading text.1. Click to open the“kitchen sink”.
  21. 21. Use the “more” linkAdd a “more” link.Click for customexcerpt options
  22. 22. Use post excerptsEnable Excerpts.
  23. 23. Beyond the Blog
  24. 24. Your Post in the Blog EcosystemBlogs exist in an ecosystem.People can comment directly on your blog, and even if comments are off,they can write about you on their own blog.Find ways to connect with other people.Give credit where credit‟s due.“A blog is only asinteresting as theinterest shown inothers.”― Lee Odden
  25. 25. If you work really hard & be kind,amazing things will happen.Even if you think no one‟s reading, write as if someone‟s reading. They will,eventually.Believe in what you write. It has value.Don‟t shy away from the hard stuff.“If youre going to fall out of love with public approval,something interesting will happen: people will bedeeply attracted to your work.”― Jeff Goins
  26. 26. We‟re a CommunityIf you have an idea you want to express, please reach out!T: @KO_DavidHE:david@davidihamilton.comRead other blogs,experiment, and have fun.Blogging is best learnedby blogging