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Blogging for Change

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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:
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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.

Blog Content Tools

Finding good fresh content for your blog will make it more attractive to your readers. There are a number of great online tools that I have used to come up with up to date content that might be useful for others.

Let me say first up that the relevance of these tools will vary from blogger to blogger. Most of them will probably be of less use to those writing Personal Journals than to those writing K-logs or filters. Personal Journals will probably draw more upon the brain of the writer as a tool than anything I share below.

The following tools help you to see what else is happening online – if current up to date information is of relevance to your blogging you might find them interesting. It is not a definitive list so please feel free to add your own tools in comments and if appropriate I’ll add them to the following list:
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The Rhythm Method of Blogging

One of the keys to blogging is frequent posting. This is what distinguishes weblogs from from static websites.

The average blogger posts once every 14 days – personally I tend to mainly visit bloggers who update more regularly than that. As a blog reader I get to know the rhythm of the blogs that I read. I don’t mind if they are daily, weekly or even fortnightly bloggers – but whatever their rhythm I find myself loosing interest if they disappear for unexplained periods of time. So get into a rhythm of blogging.

I personally blog daily and dedicate 15 minutes most mornings while I drink my coffee to write something. I also often post last thing at night.

I read somewhere recently that if you write for 15 minutes a day you will have written the equivalent of an average book in a year. Set yourself some sort of goal like that – but don’t fall into the temptation of writing just because you ‘have to’ – your content will suffer.

One way to help each ‘bloggers block’ is to keep a file of ideas to blog about. Rather than posting about everything that interests you in a day, keep a few ideas in reserve so you can post them quickly on a day when you otherwise might have been too busy or unable to post.

Lastly – if you keep forgetting to blog (a common problem) you should check out this amazing new Blogging Reminder System – The NoemicsPad. Its a revolutionary idea that could change the way you blog forever!

Blog Content Tip – Titles are Everything

After slaving away on your latest blog post pause before you hit that ‘publish’ button and consider your title. What does it convey to your potential reader? Titles can be the difference between having your post read or ignored. Of course there are No Rules that will guarantee your post to get noticed, but you might want to consider some of the following.

Simplify – Studies show that blog readers prefer straightforward, short and simple titles to cute or cryptic ones.

Communicate – In a word or three tell your reader what the post is about in your title. Most people will not take the time to read something unless they know what it is about first.

Key Words – Try to incorporate words in your title that are likely to be searched for by readers in search engines. Get into their shoes — what search term would you use if you were wanting information on this topic? If you’re writing about Britney Spears – put her in your title and you’ll increase its ranking in the engines.

Grab Attention – A good title draws your readers into your post. Your post is likely to be one of many on the same topic. Your title is an opportunity to distinguish it from others like it. Imagine yourself searching for articles on a search engine or news aggregator — what would make you click your link? Intrigue your reader, draw them into your post, make them want to read more!

Of course Titles are NOT Everything you still need to post something worthwhile under them. But a title is not just the start of your post, it is an invitation for people to engage with your ideas. Put some effort into developing it and you’ll find people take that all important step into your virtual space.

Get to the Point

The average person reading speed is 200 words per minuteWhat’s Yours? (The speed reading record is 1347 wpm)

In 96 seconds they will read 320 words.

So keep things short and to the point. I know this sounds crazy coming from me – but the stats show my longer posts are often largely are ignored.

EXTENDED ENTRY – If you’re going to write a long post – consider writing a punchy introduction that makes your main points so that when your reader gets the ‘itch to click’ they’ve grasped your message. After the introduction refer your readers via a ‘read more’ link to another page for the rest of your post if they want to know the details. (MT’s Extended Entry feature is handy way to do this automatically).

MULTIPLE POSTS – consider breaking your long post down into multiple entries to be posted over a period of time – be sure to link them to one another.