Writing for Your Blog

Last week, I wrote about blogs and usability. This week, I want to discuss how to tell your story online. In “Aim for the Heart” by Al Tompkins, I’m taught that writing for online is not the same as writing for television for news journalists. Online storytelling requires a lot more pieces; first, it needs to be interactive. Readers want to consume new stories on their terms. They want to be able to click through a news story and discover what is relevant to them. For example, when there was a stand off in Imperial Beach (my neighborhood), I wanted to know how close this was happening in relation to my house. When I went to local news channels online sites, it gave me the general address but no map. While this did not hinder me from searching on Google Maps, I had to take an extra step, which news sites should avoid. Second, online storytelling requires updating because once a story is published online, it gets archived. Consumers can refer back to these archived publications and should have the most up-to-date information.

Now I want to put this in context of online writing for a blog. The blogging world is a bit different.  Most blogs are not updating the public on big media stories. In fact, the majority of blogs that I read talk about fashion, fitness, and the Paleo lifestyle. These blogs should still follow similar, if not the same, rules that local news sites follow. When I go to a Paleo lifestyle blog, I want the most recent information on Paleo trends or recipes. Balanced Bites does a great job of keeping her readers updated through medias such as Facebook and Instagram. Her website is also easy to read and shows the most recent updates on top of her page. Most importantly, her website is interactive. She includes videos, Podcasts, pictures, and written stories.

Other important tip to remember is that online publishing also needs to keep SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in mind. When writing a story, remember to use words that readers are going to type into their search engines to find your story. Al Tompkins writes, “the first rule of SEO is brevity” (176). Ensure that the words in the headline “capture the content of the story” (176). Readers don’t want to be lied to when clicking on a news story. Optimizing a headline would include using words that frequently show up in the story. While most writers want to be “clever,” search engines cannot search cleverness. If I’m writing about San Diego Fashion Week, the title for my blog entry should read, “San Diego Fashion Week Brings Out the Local Fashionistas” instead of “Local Fashionistas Unite.” While both titles capture the story, the first headline is going to get better SEO. 

While some bloggers might say that they don't want a "fan base," I personally feel empowered when people read my blog. I'm posting on a local forum for the entire world to potentially read. I want people to read my blog and relate to what I'm writing. Al Tompkins writes about understanding your online audience. Blogger is a great platform for blogging because it allows me to view how readers are finding my site (the most searched keyword: "Musings of Kristen" which to me means, this person knows my blog pretty well). It also shows me what entries people are reading the most (the previous one is on top right now) and also where my readers are from. In the online publishing world, journalists need to know these stats. It helps journalists know what their readers are interested and how to keep bringing them back to their site. In journalism, it's important to cater to what your reader wants especially if it means bringing traffic to your site. Hmm... now I have to consider how to bring readers back to my site. 

Aside from posting more frequently, what, dear readers, do you want to read?

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