Archive for ‘#elxn41’

May 11, 2011

Blogging 201: Nine tips on creating engaging blog content

Content is the most important ingredient for any media, and blogs are no exception. Coming up with, and delivering, quality content is often challenging, so here are a few tips to help you generate content to keep your readers coming back.

1. Stay on topic. Be sure to only blog about things that are relevant to your blog.  For instance, if you blog about fashion, don’t include a post on why your favourite restaurant or sports teams. If you start to stray from your original focus, your blog will no longer be about your passion/interest: it will be about you and, as mentioned in blogging 101, nobody really wants to read a blog about you.

2. Limit yourself to one main idea per post. Often there’s a lot to say, but you can’t say it all in one post.  Here you should pick out your most important point and stick to it. If there really is too much to say, consider using the series approach where you blog several times about the same topic… i.e. this ongoing blogging series.

3. Pick a side and share your opinion. You don’t need to be negative about it, just have an opinion. These posts often generate a lot of traffic and comments as people want to contribute to the conversation.

4. Write about news and current events. Find something in the news and blog about it. There is not always an obvious connection between your blog topic and what’s hot in the news, so it’s up to the blogger to find, or create, that connection. For instance, I wanted to blog about the recent Canadian Federal Election, but the question was what to blog about. Once I saw a news story about how job postings were made to hire people to post right-, or left-, wing comments, I knew I had found my topic.

5. Be useful. You want to add value for your reader. Consider sharing a resource, experience, expertise, etc. Don’t be afraid to share some of your “industry secrets” and how-to posts are always popular if you can help people with a common problem you’ve solved.

6. Vary the types of posts you make. Consider using different formats to present your information to keep the reader interested. You may want to use how-tos, top 10 lists, opinion, infographics, reviews, case studies, or even  interviews.

7. Write straight-forward and catchy headlines. People decide if they are going to click on your post based on the headline, so it’s important to capture what your post is about in as few words as possible. The strongest headlines add the elements of interest, wordplay, and/or humour. I’m always writing, and re-writing, my headlines to be sure I come up with something that fits. Reading other blogs can often help get the headline juices flowing. For more on effective headline writing, check out Blogging 301.

8. Make sure your content is consumable. People don’t read the internet, they scan it. Use a combination of lists, images, graphs, charts, and different formatting options to make your key points stand out. Also, make sure to include a photo, image, or video in each post – this helps to visually break-up your text and adds interest to the post.

9. Set a schedule and stick to it. Being regular is important. If you set a regular, and achievable,  schedule to create new posts, you and your readers will get into the routine of creating and consuming your content.  Professional bloggers often post everyday, but others who have a different day-job will post once a week, or a couple times a month.

March 31, 2011

Job Posting: Writers needed to post right-wing (or left-wing) comments

Earlier this week, a colleague of mine (@ivox_pierre) sent me the job posting below that appeared on Craigslist in Toronto for an hour or two on March 28, 2011. At first I dismissed it as a joke. The more I thought about this ad, though, the more I pondered several questions around authenticity and acceptability of this political trolling. The big one was:

Is this ethical behaviour?

The easy answer is “no,” regardless of your political stripe.  But are there exceptions to this rule? Is there a grey area here?  If so, what are the ground rules?

In the past, even I have been asked to use my social networks to support candidates, but the rules were clear:

  • Ensure you honestly believe in what you are saying online
  • Make sure it is truthful and accurate

These rules are in stark contrast to the requirements in the  job posting below:

We all know it’s not OK to encourage people to spread falsehoods; but is it OK to offer to pay people to promote your poitical angle?

In the interest of balance, I also found that a very similar ad was posted for left-wing writers. I don’t have the actual ad, but Google provides some evidence:

Regardless of whether your beliefs fall on the right, left, or centre of the spectrum, is this practice acceptable? What are the ground rules?

What do you think?

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