Professional blog guidelines from a grumpy journalist

These professional blog guidelines are provoked by a sense of annoyance and frustration.

Blogs have become a major channel of communication for outward facing organisations of all sorts but too many ignore the basic rules of good writing. So I have put together professional blog guidelines for the sort of blogs I read for work: blogs about pension rule changes, customer service, consumer rights and employee engagement.

Here are my professional blogging tips.

Professional blog guidelines: focus is everything

  • As a journalist my colleagues and I were taught to identify the top-line or the angle of a story. In most news-writing this appears clearly as the first paragraph and the headline. That may not be necessary in a blog but the writer must know what the key point of the article is. And they should know this before they start typing!
  • Stick to one message per blog. A professional blog should not try to deal with more than one key point. Don’t shoehorn in six loosely related thoughts.  Make one point clearly and with supporting arguments. Save the other five thoughts for another day.
  • Read it aloud to yourself. This is the professional way to check the punctuation is correct and everything makes sense.

Professional blog guidelines: short sentences, short paragraphs, just short!

  • Keep it short. The guidance on this is a bit mixed as there is some evidence that high quality long blogs are read and shared more than short ones. However, I would rarely read a 2,000 word blog and I am much more inclined to read shorter ones. 500 words seems to me a good length unless you have a lot of important data to share.
  • Short sentences are preferable to long ones. Limit the number of sub clauses.
  • Short paragraphs are favoured by readers, particularly those reading on their phones.

Professional blog guidelines: blogs versus documents

Here we start to depart from the basic rules of good writing into some blog specifics.

  • Identify your key words and put them in bold. This is not so much for the reader as for the search engine robots. There is a whole science of how to appeal to the ‘bots’ and it is not the subject of this article. My concern is that once I have found a blog I want to read, I can get through it with out grinding my teeth and wanting to start editing it.
  • Include links. Links to other web resources are the great advantage of blogs over documents. One click reveals supplementary material for the reader who cares but keeps the main body uncluttered for those just scanning.
  • Consider whether you should use the first person – by which I mean should you use the ‘I’ word. g. ‘I was thinking yesterday…’ or ‘I wondered…’  This is certainly more acceptable in a blog than in other types of professional document but I observe that it’s falling by the wayside somewhat, as professional blogging becomes part of the mainstream.

Professional blog guidelines: check, check and check again

  • Remember blogs live forever! Well, maybe not strictly true but they may well still appear in online searches in 10 years time. So check, check and check again before you publish. Of course, unlike 20th century publishing you can go back and correct a mistake after you have published.

Professional blog buidelines: other resources

Here are some good professional blogs:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/academy

huffingtonpost.com

drudgereport.com

Here are some more good sites about blogging

http://allindiewriters.com/about/

http://blog.thewholebraingroup.com/sensible-blogging-checklist-infographic

copyblogger.com

About Liz Barclay

Liz Barclay is one of the most recognised voices on British radio today with her common-sense approach to money and finance on ‘You and Yours’. She presented ‘You and Yours’ on BBC Radio 4 for ten years, in addition to ‘Call You & Yours’ and ‘Pick of the Week’. Liz writes for several monthly personal finance and small business magazines, and wrote a personal finance column for the News of the World. Liz’s TV experience includes presenting three series of ‘Pound for Pound’ for BBC2 – a personal Finance programme dealing with everyday personal finance issues, and three series of ‘The Small Business Programme’ and ‘The Business Hour’ on BBC2 – programmes for people who run small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). She presented a thirteen-part series for Discovery Europe called ‘Talking Heads’ on personal issues ranging from ‘Coping with Bereavement’ to ‘Lying’. Liz is a published author including ‘Employment Law for Small Businesses For Dummies’, ‘Your Rights In UK Law For Dummies’, and ‘Green Living for Dummies’. Liz hosts a number of communications skills courses on behalf of The Media Coach which include Media Training, Presentation Training, Crisis Media Training and Message Building.

View All Posts
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *