In part one of this series we talked about the tools for being a blog news reporter (Blog News Reporter: The Tools). In part II we are going to focus on the actual blog itself.
- Determine a Goal: When you are getting ready to start a blog try to think where you want this blog to be in 1 year. What goals do you have for it, what role do see it playing in your life and and in the “neighborhood” you are looking to move into. Chances are in 12 months you won’t be where you thought you wanted to be, but going in the wrong direction is better than not having a direction at all. I like to divide blogs up into four categories, most people have a little bit of each, but one of them almost always takes a dominant role.
- Evangelist: You’ve got a message or cause you’re passionate about want to promote or share, and the blog is your vechicle of distribution. Just don’t let the message consume you so much, you have a “damn the torpedoes full speed ahead” approach.
- Industry Expert: You want to be known as an expert in your industry. You want your name to be a known commodity, so you can speak at conferences, give lectures, sell consulting services or sell books. You need to be well informed, authoritative, and insightful. You should also focus on being polite and respectful. That blog bitch slap may have been funny last week, but probably won’t land you a speaking gig in 6 months.
- Commercial or Advertising: You want to talk about, evaluate, review or comment on a particular market segment (services or products). You need to be on the bleeding edge to make this happen, first movers have a real advantage.
- Cat Blog: Oh how I loathe cat blogs. They are the equivalent of sci-fi fan fiction in the blogosphere. If you want to blog about your life, family, friends, cat or pagan mating rituals feel free. Just don’t look for lots of readers or expect a big advertising payout from your blog (see Adsense why bloggers Don’t get it).
- Subject and Breadth: when choosing a subject matter for your blog the two main factors to consider are passion and scope. You could certainly write a blog about any subject matter whether you like it or not, however writing about a subject you enjoy is always going to be easier. Scope or breadth of topic is little tricky, too big and you can’t manage it, to small and you run out of material. For example Cameras would be too big a subject for one person and would require a team or group blog. Digital cameras is still a little big for new bloggers, ok for more experienced ones. Nikon digital cameras is probably too small for a blog. Nikon Cool Pix digital cameras is too small to see any real volume of traffic.
- Giving Your Blog a Voice: Finding your blogging voice is one of the most difficult things to do and even describe. The whole Cluetrain Manifesto schpeal about your voice being true is important, but not the whole picture. If I wanted to write a blog about single guy dating I could probably pull it off, however I would fail miserably on the ‘Barbie News for Teens‘ news blog as it’s too far from my frame of reference.
- Don’t Be a Jerk: Humor, cynicism, and sarcasm play a big part in many web conversations. However everyone has different line about what’s acceptable. If you never piss off anyone then you’re not pushing the edge. If you piss off the occasional person here and there, you’re probably right on track. If you regularly receive hate links with stupid jerk, arrogant bastard, or idiot wanker as the linking text, you’ve probably pushed it too far. Try to find out where the line is, hop up and down on it occasionally, but don’t go past it, and apologize if you do.
- Apologies Retractions and Corrections: If you live on the edge chances are at some point you will make a mistake and say something wrong, or hurtful, you may even get called out on the carpet by some of your readers. Be a man about it. First make a completely new post apologizing. Link the new post to the original post. Go back to the original post and put an update at the bottom and link to the new post. Send an email apologizing to the offended party. If you plain old got the facts wrong don’t edit the post. A much better idea is to use strikethrough text, and put an update message at the bottom. Correcting spelling mistakes or changing someone’s name from Joe to Joseph are perfectly acceptable post publication edits. If you are being sued or threatened with legal action consult an attorney before deleting or changing any posts.
Next: Blog News Reporter: Promotion and Growing your Blog
Blog News Reporter: The Tools
Blog News Reporter: Approaches and the News
Blog News Reporter: Promotion and Growing your Blog