There are a lot of blogs on the Internet these days and though many of them are good some could use a quick lesson in etiquette.
Lesson 1: Write Twice, Publish Once
One thing every woodworker knows is that you "measure twice, cut once." This rule should also guide you in your blogging.
What I mean by this is that it is very important that you read over your entry at least twice prior to putting it on your blog.
Read it with a neutral eye to be sure you are not putting yourself in a bad light. Look out for whining, ignorance and over all bad grammar in your entry.
Lesson 2: Cite Your Sources
If you are writing about something that is popular, and you used the Internet as a source, be sure to provide links to the pages from which you acquired your information from.
If your content is 100% your own than you need not worry about citing sources but you should still provide some outbound links for your readers.
If you are doing an article on a piece of technology you can use the manufacturers website as a source. Don't just leave a link to their homepage though, provide a link directly to their product page.
Lesson 3: Comments
It's good to provide your readers a way to communicate with you about your entry. Comment systems are the expected norm in this regard.
When you setup your comment system it is a good idea to allow those who leave comments to also be able to leave a link to their website. This provides a sort of payment system to your readers.
Why do I say that? Simple, someone who leaves a comment on your blog is essentially providing you with original content. No one expects you to start cutting checks but allowing them to leave a link back to their homepage is even better!
If another reader likes that person's comment they may click on the reader's homepage link. When the reader sees traffic coming from your blog they will be inspired to leave more comments!
Allowing readers to leave a link to their homepage costs you nothing.
Another key thing with comments is that you should be sure to read them all and respond when appropriate.
By responding in the comments with your readers they will begin to feel closer to you as you care enough to respond, unlike those big news sites that almost never respond to comments. By building this relationship with your readers you will gain their loyalty.
Now, with all of that said, do not expect a lot of comments on your stories. Only about .1% of your readers will even consider leaving a comment. Of that grouping, only a tiny fraction will leave a comment but, the rest of your readers are likely to read those comments and take your participation in the commenting into consideration when they decide if your blog is worth following or not.
Lesson 4: Be Original
No one wants to read 5,000 blog entries about the same hot news story of the day. you need to be original.
You can write about the hot news story of the day if you can manage to put your own special twist on it.
Let's say you wanted to write about the launch of a new gaming console. Because it is such a big event you already know that everyone is already blogging about it. Add in the "real" news about the event and you are in for a lot of stiff competition.
So, how do you make your story different and worth reading? You have to make it original!
Yes, it sounds easy when I say it that way but, it really is easy, you just need to focus!
Look at the angles that are currently being used to report on the story. Is the major media covering the long lines at the store? Are the gaming sites focusing on the hardware specifications? Are the bloggers talking about both of these things? Once you know what is out there you can figure out what is not out there.
When the Wii came out from Nintendo this past week most stories focused on the lines and the specs of the machine. I found a few stories that were different, these stories focused on the Mii side of the Wii. The good ones went into detail on how to make your Mii and how the Mii system worked.
These writers found a niche that had been ignored and they exploited it. The system has been out for a week now and it will be a lot harder to find an undiscovered niche to talk about now.
Lesson 5: Have Fun
Blogging is not about writing stories for a mass market appeal. Blogging is about having fun.
Unless you are one of those .001% of bloggers who are able to make a living at this it simply does not pay for you to chase the crowds. Write about what you like, then, once your readership begins to grow, you will have a stable readership that is interested in you and your writings.
If you try to chase the headline stories of the day you are already too late. Unless you are a reporter on the street who is witnessing events as they happen you will always be too late.
Now, once you figure out your niche you can take a current news story, if it fits your readership, and comment about it. You just can't grab it off of the AP wire and report directly on it.
I hope these tips have helped. As always feel free to leave comments about this and any other story on this blog.