March 4, 2011

Ignore these 5 blogging basics at your peril

Whether your blog is meant for jotting down your routine incidents or has a bigger canvas, you need to follow a few basic principles. The five bits of advice that we are giving here are the bare basics, and yet most of the bloggers take them for granted. The result: the blog decays over time, the blogger himself/ herself loses interest and the blog goes down further.

 Make these 5 basics your cardinal principles of quality blogging, and see your blog glowing and growing.

1. Content is king. It is a cliché, we know, but also a formula that works hundred percent in the long run. Creating good content needs effort and may not give instant traffic, but in the long term nothing can beat the quality of content. An investment of time and energy in writing a quality post will give you traffic and back links, and also immense satisfaction years later.  [We will come up with a post on what makes great content sometime soon.]

2. Be regular even if not very fast. Compose a post even if you have nothing great to say. Not all posts will be brilliant but the discipline to write a post (say, daily or once a week or on every Sunday morning or on 1st and 15th of each month) must be followed. If you are not happy with a post, you have the liberty to keep it in draft form for the time being.

3. Keep the posts short. General purpose blogs should not have very lengthy posts. If the post length tends to exceed over 25 lines, either break the content into more posts and serialise it or use ‘peek-a-boo’ posts [posts that give only a few introductory sentences and put a ‘read more’ link after that; when a reader clicks on this link, the rest of the post appears there.]

Now, you will find this very post slightly long. Well, with post where the reader is led to read more [in the present case: five points, one after the other], you can allow slightly longer posts. There are other exceptions [e.g. photo-blogs and blogs on scientific research or other specialities] but in such cases too, the decision to keep the post long has to be due to constraint or nature of the matter, not by choice.

4. Break text into short, separate, chunks. This applies to all writing for the web and is particularly important for blog posts. Generally keep only a single idea in one paragraph and keep the paragraph short.
Further highlight the gap between paras. You can do it by keeping a blank line between paragraphs or making the first letter or word bigger. Consider changing text colour or italicising it when quoting somebody else, introducing sub-titles, breaking text with graphics [a more detailed post will follow], etc.

5. Do not clutter the blog. Choose a design that not only appeals to the eye, it also helps in easy navigation. Avoid a childish pattern of colours, text, graffiti, photos, sketches etc unless you deliberately want it to be that way. Even then, think twice. Being experimental, quirky and playful is not synonymous with looking scatterbrained and confusing.[Which part of blog catches viewers' attention?]