The Future As Seen By Me In 2010

Well looky here, things one has scanned in eh. (ignore the photo, that's some guy that made some accounting software, not sure what became of him ;) MIKE RIVERSDALE is fuming. The expensive headphones he bought in Sydney three weeks ago have just died. His first reaction is not to randomly spill expletives into his coffee, but to use his iPhone to vent his frustration to his Twitter con- tacts, under the moniker Miramar Mike. "I will also put, 'What should I do?' It's a conversation. I'm reaching out to the people following me." The council predicts hand-held digital devices such as smartphones will rule the world in 2040. They already rule the life of Mr Riversdale, whose company WaveAdept helps businesses adapt - their computing sys- tems to allow staff to work from anywhere - and with anyone. In order of fre- equency, he uses his iPhone to tweet (1136 followers; 8363 tweets since joining), e-mail, make phone calls and use online services, such as checki

Blogging for bosses - What Makes A Good Blog

Image hosted by Photobucket.comOne of the key people at work has asked about blogging and, "What makes a good blog?" and I suspect that you may soon see the fruits of my labour at a CCC website near you.

First, a definition of "blog" from Wikipedia:
A weblog (now more commonly known as a blog) is a web-based publication consisting primarily of periodic articles (normally in reverse chronological order).

If you're new to the world of blogging then do not fear, most people are. It's nothing new; it's nothing that clever; it doesn't involve downloading software; it can be done on any computer; it's all about writing words; you need NO technical skills to do it. Want more then I suggest the Understand and Reading a Blog (for Newcomers)

But, on a more general note, what do you think makes a good blog?
I suspect you'll have to define what "good" means to you and your readers. And there's the first thing I'll be saying:

1) What am I writing for?
This blog:
There as many reasons to start a blog as there are people in the world. What yours might be is not for me to say. Mine reasons were:
  • keep in touch with my family and whanau;
  • remove the need to send photo's to everyone via email;
  • connect with people around me;
  • try and generate comment with my views;
  • and make people laugh as I point to funny things around the interweb.

Knowing what you want to do quickly and neatly leads you to finding out who you're gonna aim it at:
2) Define your audience
There are so many blogs appearing and then dying, so many other places to go and, of course, it's impossible to please everybody all of the time. So limit yourself to the people you care about.

This blog:
For me, this blog is aimed at a couple of key "people", in order:
  1. me;
  2. Meg, Jack and Liz;
  3. geographically distant family and whanau;
  4. local people (Wellington and Christchurch primarily);
  5. anyone else who stumbles across it.

Once you know "who" your audience ,like any other publishing media, you need to get to know what they like, what they don't like and how they want to interact with you. I'd call this getting the right language (hard/soft, corporate/matey, techie/layman, left/right ...):
3) Understand your audience's language and gain a consistent "blog voice"

4) Use pictures but make sure they're relevant

Hidden amongst this are also things like, "be passionate about your subject", "write well" and even "communicate your view" - you know, the hard and very fluffy stuff that 95% of us never really manage to do consistently. I can count on the fingers of two hands the blogs I truly think are written well.

The picture thing is obvious ... isn't it?

This blog:
This blog is definitely aimed at two distinct languages. Mostly it's "matey" - me nattering on about stuff. I try to write like I talk but without so many "ums" and I've also made a conscious decision to only swear in exceptional circumstances as I don't know how old the reader is.

Every now and again though I aim it at a techie/Web 2.0-literate audience. This is mainly for me and I therefore try to keep them to a minimum and only when the enthusiasm for something Google-y bubbles over.

I s'pose so far can be said of any writing, be it for a blog, newspaper, your first novel or the homework. Blogs though, do have an added dimension to them that you will want to cultivate - community.

Not only can people come and read your postings but a good blog will engender a sense of ownership from your readers. They'll want (you hope) to join in, comment on what you have said, point others to your blog and be a part of what you are doing.

In order for that to happen you have to gain the trust of your readers. That can be tough and does take time. Is this a fly-by-night blog that'll be dead within a week? And that's all about being up to date. In this fast moving world people will expect a regularly updated blog. Anything more than a week between updates is probably gonna loose you some "blog kudos".
5) Update regularly

This blog:
Well, it's mostly daily. If not then I notice a drop in readership. You don't have to be daily but regular - as long as your readers know they can come back in a week and there'll be something new they'll be back.

More importantly though, is the author (or team of authors) a person I like and would buy a beer within in the flesh-world? Let your personality (whether it's your real one or one you've invented) shine through. If you're a raving nutter about biscuits then let people hear about it. If you can't stand tarmac, rant and rave when you need to.
6) Let your community get to know you

This blog:
I have an extensive 'About Mike' together with my Life Story and loads of articles that, I think, have allowed people to know the real me. To a degree. As I've said before there are things that I will never blog, parts of me only my close friends know and some stuff that ain't appropriate for the publicly available Web.

Once people start to agree with you (normally the first set of comments your community, which is hidden away, leaves) then you can start to engage them directly. Don't forget though that there are a gazillion other places in their computer they can go to and you don't want to piss people off just for the hell of it. Unless you don't like what they said ... after all, it's your blog. It's a fine line:
7) Talk with (not at) your readers

This blog:
I love the banter. I love chatting to people via comments. It's the life blood of my blogging and I'm sure, after a while, I would stop if no-one ever left a comment. Possibly.

The community will grow, some will become best mates and others will flit in and out over time. As with any grouping of people not everything said will be to your liking, how you want it said or even at the time you want it. Don't be too much of a content-Nazi; if you want a personal Website then go and get one, that's not a blog.
8) Let them take a little "control" of your blog

Finally, remember that this is the Web and that means everything is connected to everything else. If you read something and quote it, link back to it. If you write something that could benefit from deeper explanation then link to others than give background. If you regularly visit websites then link off to them (also allows people to see what sort of person you are).

I s'pose this also covers the "get linked" - get out there, ask people with blogs you respect to link to you, get on the search engines (Blog search from Google will pick you up anyway) and generally "pimp the blog"(tm).

Finally, leave comments on other sites. Not only will you be loved by the blogs you visit but you'll have people visiting as they try and find out who you are.
9) Link where appropriate and be a good blog-citizen

This blog:
I link everything ... well, mostly. I try to find a relevant link for anything that I think people might not get, especially the "Web 2.0" and "pregnancy" stuff.

And that's it.
I've not mentioned RSS/newsfeeds ... that can wait for another posting.
Have fun, enjoy the writing and I expect you all to leave a comment about this article.

Some useful guidelines about writing a "good" blog from out there:

This last bit is a list of other people's views on what makes a "good" blog as well as some general hints & tips for writing a blog - enjoy.


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