6 October 2008

Kerrie's blogging guidelines

I came across a set of "Eight Blogging Guidelines" over on Type M for Murder today.
While I agree with most of them, there are some that I don't, so I thought it was time that I published my own, that is, those that I try myself to abide by.

This won't really be a definitive list. I'm sure that I will omit things that you, my fellow bloggers, think are really important. Let me know what I have left out.
Nor will the points be in strict order of importance. I'll try though.
I've settled on 10.
  1. Decide what the focus of your blog is.
    The focus of mine is crime fiction, and I try to stick to that. I have other blogs where I do other things.
    If your blog is basically about books, stick to that. If you need to talk about your family, the cats or the dogs, then create another blog for that. Some people have as many as 6 different blogs. Your readers will stick with you because of your focussed content.
    Think about who you are trying to write for.
    Your blog doesn't have to be the final authority either.

  2. How often to blog?
    This is where I depart from the guidelines referred to above. Blog regularly. Many of the blogs I read have a new posting daily. I can cope with that. Sometimes I worry when I write more than one posting - hoping I don't offend with over-blogging. But really, you are the writer of your blog. So do what suits you. I avoid extra posts with some of the links I have in the area around my blog, like the blog roll on the right, and the Breaking News at the top. But sometimes there is something I want to pass on, so I post a second or even third time for the day.

  3. Watch the layout of your posting.
    Give it plenty of white space. I'm not the only person I'm sure who has trouble with reading chunks of text. Play around with the blog templates available to you until you find one that suits you. Don't feel held back from changing your layout or images. My friend Petrona delights by refreshing hers on a seemingly regular basis.
    Whether to include images or not is up to you, but they do help with layout and to make it look interesting. You might want to get something like XnView to help you with image management.

  4. Use links in your posting.
    If you are writing a book review, do a little bit of research about the author and point to their website if you can. Hyperlink rather than just post in the URL.

  5. Proof read your posting carefully before publishing.
    If I am following your blog by RSS feed, then I don't want to get 5 copies of the same posting with minute changes. I know I'm guilty of this sometimes, but believe me I try not to publish until I am sure there are no changes to be made.

  6. Don't make your readers jump hurdles to leave comments.
    At the beginning of this year I resolved to change my lurking behaviour, and, where possible to make a comment when the blog posting interested me. Nothing is more annoying though than those blogs where you have to be "a member" to post.
    You'll notice too, if you go to comment here, that I have turned "word verification" off - this is a trial - under the influence of a couple of fellow bloggers who are leading a movement against the practice. If I get spammed, then I will turn it back on. But perhaps a blog like mine so far down the blogging tree doesn't need such protection.
    And when comments are left, try to reply to them.

  7. Get copies of your own postings.
    That might seem to be a bit narcissistic, but it is important that you get to see your blog postings as your readers see them. I'm subscribed to my blog by RSS feed and by email.
    Check what the RSS feed of your blog is delivering. Some are set so that all you get is the headlines. It is an extra click and upload for me then to read your actual posting, and I am likely not to bother.
    Make sure also that you get copies of the comments by email.

  8. Feel free to add gadgets to make your blog more interesting. For example I find that visitors to my site, whom I monitor via Feedjit often go off on one of the links in my blogroll. Have a look also at the Clustr Map
    I've been using polls in my blog to give people something to do when they get here.
    I've also included blocks on the side that show particular things that I am doing such as the Forgotten Books links, and the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.
    Have a look at what other people do on their blogs for ideas.

  9. Use labels and tags.
    I've seen anti-tagging movements that I just don't understand. Tags will help people search your blog for similar entries to the one they are reading. I don't display all the tags on mass though, it made my blog page far too long.

  10. Set up some sort of counter.
    This will help you monitor how many people come to your blog. You'll see that I have Sitemeter, Feedjit, and Free Counter running.
    I like Sitemeter because it gives me a weekly report and through it I know that I have about 58 visitors a day, and that they are spending about 2 minutes on average on my blog. Feedjit tells me what postings people are finding and how they are getting there (their Google searches etc).
    I find the counters are an incentive for me to do better, and in some ways a re-assurance that there are people out there who read my blog.
So, please, what have I left off the list, that you think is important? Tell me also if you disagree/agree with individual guidelines.

So now, Im off to read. If I don't do any of that, then I won't have anything to write about!


Mack said...

Nice list Kerrie. I really need to keep number 3 in mind. I fear I am very guilty of producing dense blocks of text.

Do you think there is an optimum length for a blog post? I think I get a bit carried away with number 4 and sometimes put in too much background, resulting in the problem identified in number 3.

What about tracking who references your blog and getting your blog registered with a site like Technorati?

Kerrie said...

Hello Mack

The Eight Guidelines suggested 250 words. Most of my postings would fail that. I read somewhere that where book review blogs often fail is that they are too brief.
This posting was over 1000 words and was probablya bit long - most of mine would be about 500 words I guess.

I've registered my blog on technorati but am not entirely sure what that is achieving. How do you track who references your blog?

I have some Google alerts happening- one in particular looks for "mysteries in paradise" - mostly it comes up with me, but sometimes I find a link where someone has mentioned my blog.

Janet Rudolph said...

I found this article and your comments very helpful. I don't have a sitemeter on my blog, and I intend to add one now.

My blog is usually over 250 words. Not sure I can change that, but I'll try.

Mack said...

Hi Kerrie,
I just got a copy of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing hoping for guidance determining what I should be doing/am doing wrong. Haven't read anything about length yet, but 250 words seems a bit short for a review. You could easily use that for a plot summary without leaving much space for analysis.

I don't track hits on or references to my blog mostly because I'm quite self-conscious about writing and figure if I don't know if I'm being read I'll be happier. In direct contradiction to that, I started the blog and made it public to force myself to write something that doesn't involve "now click edit on the tool bar then click ..."

Kerrie said...

Janet & Mack
I think 250 words is almost too short for anything.
I think taking care of the white space helps with the readability factor (which is what I think the 250 words suggested in those original 8 guidelines is aimed at)

maxine said...

Good post, as ever, Kerrie. I take slight issue with point 1, about the focus. I write about various things on my blog, and so do other people on their blogs that I read. For some blogs, what is important is that blogger's "take" on anything - i.e. the blogger's personality is what is important, not that he or she always writes about the same thing. It can get a bit annoying, for the blogger and the reader, if there are six blogs for the six different things that interest the blogger. Take Scott Adams (Dilbert) for example, he posts once a day, no more no less, and I always look forward to his posts. Sometimes they are on topics I am not interested in, and I skip it, but I will be back the next day, because I like his take on life. But I am not interested in reading blog posts on religion or anti=religion, so I ignore those.
I apply the same principle to all the blogs I follow. If the blogger goes off topic, I might learn something or see a different perspective. I can forgive a few blog posts that aren't that relevant, before I press the "unsubscribe" button.

Kerrie said...

My first point was a general one Maxine, and I do in general agree with what you are saying. However I do prefer the blog to have a common thread


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