Monday, January 24, 2005

Some Good Advice on Blog Writing from BL Ochman. I buy most of it anyway.

Lengthy, robust post from BL Ochman about how to write good blog posts.

Some of the advice I like the best:
-Link like crazy.
Absolutely. Interactivity is one of the qualities that I think distinguishes blogs from general web sites. Interactivity does not only mean comments and trackbacks, it also means providing your readers with more. More sites to visit. More food for thought.

-Don't take yourself too seriously.
Yes, yes, yes. when people take themselves too seriously, they tend to get to upset at those who disagree or at the very least take them less seriously. That leads to flaming and nastiness and general online viciousness, which I hate. But it all starts when people forget to take a deep breath and remember it's not brain surgery; it's not life or death. (Well, except maybe for the medbloggers.)

-Forget what you learned about business writing in school.
Blogs are informal, conversational...anything but staid marketing speak you can spot a mile off please.

Some of the advice I am not sure is always relevant:
-Aim at keeping your posts at about 250 words.
A rule I think she immediately breaks with the post in question. This goes to one of my other blog themes: blogs are tools. They can have different target audiences, different purposes. If your blog is a storytelling blog, and your readers expect to read stories...then they can easily handle longer posts. I write many shorter posts, but sometimes a story or essay is in order. I don't feel constrained simply because I'm posting in a blog.

-Use bulleted points whenever you can.
Hmmm. Not so sure about this one. Although I am using them in this post, so there goes my bullet-point-opinion credibility. Again, what are you writing about? Who is the audience? Bullets don't fit into certain styles, but are perfect for others. use discretion. Use your head.

When I started to extract the other advice i didn't find 100% useful, I realized that they all had to do with one thing: Ochman is pretty much giving advice for writing journalistic blog posts. That is but a small portion of the blogging going on out there. And if her premise is that any company who decides to blog should be creating a journalistic-style blog, I would have to disagree.

Bottom line: even though the post is way longer than 250 words, it is well worth checking out. Think about every piece of advice and make it a conscious decision to take or ignore it. don't follow advice slavishly, but don't discard an idea before you've really thought through whether it could help you be a better blogger, or really just a better writer.

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