Close
Close

Blog Post Formats

Amy at Contentious is writing a series on different types of blog posts which might be of interest to some readers. She’s broken blog posts down into 7 formats and is working through each post (only 3 completed so far.)

1. Link-only

2. Link blurb

3. Brief remark

4. List

5. Short article

6. Long article

7. Series

Why should bloggers understand and care about posting format?…

Bloggers who clearly understand posting formats and consider them consciously are more likely to choose the best format for each posting they publish – one that suits the content as well as the audience and the blogger’s own resources.

Before you start blogging, it helps to envision what your final posting will look like. Remember: your ultimate goal is communication, so it helps to publish in ways that effectively support communication. For text-based blogs, selecting the right format for each posting is a big part of achieving that goal.” Read more – Found via Weblogg-ed

Moveable Type – Individual Archives Titles

This week’s Blogger Idol topic was one dear to my heart – Blog Tips. Some of the tips there are excellent (its never too late to submit yours). One in particular has been valuable to me as a Moveable Type user. In fact just one of his tips might have doubled the number of visitors of my blog today. Nicholas submitted Optimizing your MovableType blog for Google.

His post is longish and a tad technical but it is well worth a look if you’re using MT. (If you don’t use MT you might not find the following that helpful) Most of it I’ve already incorporated into this blog previously (a lot of it by fluke) but of particular use to me was this short paragraph:

‘While I’m on the subject, my recollection is that, by default, the title of an individual entry archive with MovableType is the name of the blog, followed by the name of the entry. Get rid of the blog name part of this – it’s dead weight that will drag down your relevancy quotient with Google.’
[Read more...]

Blogging for Change (6) – Fear to Commitment

200608202136

This is the last installment of a 6 part series on blogging that brings about lasting change. Before reading on you might like to Read the introduction here.

Stage 5 – Fear to Commitment

Depending upon the gravity of the topic you’re talking about, fear can play a part in asking people to take some action to bring about lasting change. Real and sustained change can be a scary thing for many people.

I even found when I invited people to engage in blogger idol (not really that scary a thing) that a few people emailed me to say that they’d like to participate, but they were worried about implications of doing so.

Your last task in bringing about lasting change is to help your reader move from fear of the change to commitment to it. It is time to ‘seal the deal’.

Towards the end of your post you might want to reinforce the positives of what you’re asking people to consider. Give them a picture of what ‘might be’ if they take your words seriously. Reinforce the steps people can to follow to do what you’re asking, keep any processes as simple as possible and give people options to opt in a little bit or a lot. Give them a tangible way to respond – don’t just ask for change without giving a way forward.

When people do respond – follow them up with some encouraging words and support – keep them accountable to their decision but do so in a gracious and supportive way. If someone leaves a comment on your site for the first time or shoots you an email in response to a post, try to acknowledge them in some way – even if it is small acknowledgement. It is amazing how just a small acknowledgement of a first time reader can make them into a committed regular reader.

Concluding Words – So there you have it. Five tasks that bloggers might face if they desire to see their blogging bring about lasting change in their readers. As I said at the beginning of the series – this is a process I was taught as a public speaker. I’ve seen it’s effectiveness in that medium but I guess the jury is still out when it comes to blogging. I’m interested in your thoughts, comments, feedback and ideas. I’d like to adapt this if it needs it.

The steps in this process are:
1. Rejection to Attention
2. Indifference to Interest
3. Skepticism to Conviction
4. Procrastination to Desire
5. Fear to Commitment

Blogging for Change (5) – Procrastination to Desire

200608202135-3

This is the 5th installment of a 6 part series on blogging that brings about lasting change. Before reading on you might like to Read the introduction here.

Stage 4 – Procrastination to Desire

You have gotten the attention of your readers, they are interested in what you are blogging about, they even see how it relates to them and how they can respond to the it, you are doing great! But now comes the challenge that stops many of us from responding to things that we ‘should’ d0 – we procrastinate! We say, ‘well yes, that’s something that I should do – one day’.

You next task is breaking the cycle of procrastination and instilling desire in your readers to actually take some action – to make the change. If all you do is convince your reader you are only doing half the job. They will go to the next blog and soon forget what they’ve just been challenged about – your entry will end up just being another long forgotten entry that they once read.

If you want to create change in your readers you have to help create a desire within them to take some action, to make a change, to enter further on into a process. Actions speak louder than words!

Give your reader some way to respond to the issue at hand. This will vary depending upon what you’re writing about. You might ask them to leave a comment, to link up on their blog or to consider some other action. I often find asking a question (even if you know the answer) for people to respond to in comments is a good way of helping people to do something tangible with what you’ve written.

Inspire them, give them an incentive, show them the positive results of taking a hold of your invitation – do whatever you can to get them to take an active part in the process you’re blogging about.

The full steps in this process are:

1. Rejection to Attention
2. Indifference to Interest
3. Skepticism to Conviction
4. Procrastination to Desire
5. Fear to Commitment

Blogging for Change (4) – Scepticism to Conviction

200608202135-2

This is the 4th installment of a 6 part series on blogging that brings about lasting change. Before reading on you might like to Read the introduction here.

Stage 3 – Scepticism to Conviction

Having got the attention and peaked the interest of your reader it is now time to help them come to of place of conviction. Scepticism might have set in by now and your reader might be thinking ‘this is interesting – but it doesn’t really apply to me’. This is where you need to convince them that what you are writing is personally relevant for them and that they need to take some action.

This might be the lengthiest part of your post and where you present your main argument or points. Try to keep your key points down in number and make them simple and easy to remember. Consider using lists at this stage which break down your argument into bite sized portions.

In this stage of convincing your reader it may be helpful to:
- provide evidence and facts
- begin to reveal a suggested course of action
- talk about benefits of the course of action that you are suggesting
- give some ‘How to’ points if relevant
- invite readers to begin thinking about how they might respond

You are the lawyer convincing the jury. Show them why your topic is relevant to them (reinforce the need) and show what they can do about it. Lead them to a point where they see that the need you raised earlier is a need that they themselves have and that they feel empowered to do something about it.

I find that in this stage that being personal can be useful. To share something from your own experience gives your reader a sense that they are not alone in the issue. Talk of your own conviction and encourage them to join you in a response. In this way you do not present yourself as an expert but rather as a fellow traveller inviting your readers to journey with you.

The steps in this process are:

1. Rejection to Attention
2. Indifference to Interest
3. Skepticism to Conviction
4. Procrastination to Desire
5. Fear to Commitment

Blogging for Change (3) – Indifference to Interest

200608202135-1

This is the third part of a 6 part series on blogging that brings about lasting change. Before reading on you might like to read the introduction here.

Stage 2 – Indifference to Interest

Your witty, controversial, intriguing title and first sentence has grabbed the attention of your reader. They have made a mini commitment to you and are considering reading past the first paragraph. You’ve won the first battle of taking them from ‘Rejection to Attention’ but their filtering system is still on and your second task is to take them from ‘Indifference to Interest’.

At this stage listeners have given you their attention, but are somewhat indifferent to you and what you have to say. They are reading, but things are hanging in the balance, they are waiting to see if what you have to say is going to be of any interest to them. Will it be relevant? Is what you have to say worth them giving the next few minutes of their time to or should they go back to the search engine and find something else more interesting to read.

Give them a need to read more. If you want to bring about lasting change in your reader it is essential that they feel what you are writing about is relevant to them and their world. Think about the websites that have impacted you most over the past few months – more often than not they will be sites that meet some need that you have (whether explicitly or not) – perhaps a need for information, entertainment, community, inspiration etc.

Make it clear early what need your post will meet in your reader and you increase your chances of them reading on and being influenced by what you have to say.

You might do this by:
- Share a need you personally have had – people feel less threatened when someone else opens up about something that they too face. This builds trust between you and your reader.
- Telling a story that your reader will relate to. Better still tell half a story that will be finished later that makes your reader want to know what happens.
- Make a big claim that will, if true, have an impact upon your reader.
- Ask questions that highlight a relevant problem or issue – don’t give all your answers away yet.
- Make your reader a little uncomfortable about the issue you are posting on. There is a fine line here – tread carefully.

This task is about making your reader think ‘I have to read the rest of this’. Bring them to a point of wanting to explore your topic more because it has relevance to their lives in some way.

The steps in this process are:

1. Rejection to Attention
2. Indifference to Interest
3. Skepticism to Conviction
4. Procrastination to Desire
5. Fear to Commitment

Blogging for Change (2) – Rejection to Attention

200608202135This is the second part of a 6 part series on blogging that brings about lasting change. Read the introduction here.

Stage 1 – Rejection to Attention

The first task of the blogger wanting to have a lasting influence on readers is to get their attention.

In today’s world the average person is bombarded with thousands of competing messages daily. As a result most people have pretty good internal filtering systems (or crap detectors) to help sift out the junk and find the worthwhile. In a sense most of your potential readers will be in some state of rejection to your blog whether consciously or subconsciously. If you don’t work hard to make your post attention grabbing you will not earn the right to say anything that will bring about change.

Keep this in mind as you blog. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes – What would grab your attention when it comes to the topic you are writing about? What would make you want to read more?

Titles and first sentences are important attention grabbers. They act as mini advertisements for your post on the front page of your blog, in search engines and news aggregators. Keep them simple, punchy, informative and get to the point.

Don’t fall for the temptation to trick your readers just for the sake of getting their attention. A title like Sex Tips on a post about your pet rabbit might get attention of your readers but it will not keep it – in fact it is likely to deepen their sense of rejection to your blog.

Some other things to try to gain attention in your title or first sentence or two might be to:

- Be a little controversial (be careful with this – don’t just be controversial for the sake of it unless you are willing to deal with the consequences)
- say something puzzling (but don’t keep your reader in the dark too long or you’ll frustrate them)
- make a claim (tell your reader the answer to a question that they might have)
- talk in terms that your potential readers will relate to (don’t be arrogant – be personable – be relatable)
- use humour (if you make someone smile or laugh you are part way through their filtering system).
- ask a question that draws your reader into your post and makes them want to respond
- intrigue your reader – tempt them by dangling something that will somehow draw them into your world.

Lastly make your entry Scannable and easy to read. If your entry looks like hard work to read you are unlikely to get many readers attention.

Work hard at getting the attention of your reader and you’ll be one step closer to having some lasting impact upon them.

The steps in this process are:

1. Rejection to Attention
2. Indifference to Interest
3. Skepticism to Conviction
4. Procrastination to Desire
5. Fear to Commitment

Blogging for Change

200608202136
Why do Bloggers Blog?

Is there some underlying thread of motivation that we all share?

This is the introduction for a 6 part series on how to blog in a way that brings lasting change.

Each blogger writes for their own unique set of reasons and motivations. Some do so as a hobby, others to express their creativity, many to share their views, some as a therapeutic way of getting things off their chest and a few as a means of income. The combinations of reasons for blogging will be as many as their are bloggers. In my opinion this is good – as humans we are each unique and blogging should and does reflect this.

One of the underlying motivations of many (if not most) bloggers have is that they want to bring about change.

Perhaps a slightly different way of putting it is to say that we seek to have ‘influence’ through blogging. As I reflect upon this I suspect that it is a common thread of motivation that runs through most blogging genres. Lets consider a few:
[Read more...]

How to Write Better Blogs

Dennis A. Mahoney writes a great article entitled How to Write Better that picks up a number of things that he believes bloggers need to be encouraged to do. It focuses mainly on writing. His headings are:

- Professional vs. Amateur
- The Rules
- Offer Something New
- Amuse your Readers
- Beyond Wired
- Successful Weblogging

There are some great things there to keep in mind for any blogger whether experienced or just starting out.