Today I had a call with another team at Canonical who were wanting to ask for guidance on (a) how to write good blog entries that people want to read and (b) how to regularly get into the habit of blogging and get more eyeballs on your posts.
I thought this could be of general interest to the community, so I figured I would write these things down into a blog entry. So meta.
- Keep it concise – your blog should get the point and talk through the topic you are presenting. Now…seasoned readers of my own work will know I tend to ramble from time to time, so I myself always need to try and keep this in check. Few people will want to commit to a huge block of text, so keep it concise.
- Format it – the web has many wonderful things, and this includes formatting such as italic, bold,
code, different heading sizes and more. Use them to help add emphasis to your posts.
- Make it visual – pictures say a thousand words, and so do videos. Break up your content with images illustrating what you are discussing, or just amusing images to make a joke (example). If you want to display images, I recommend you upload them to Flickr and then link directly to the images. For videos you can usually embed them directly from YouTube or other video sharing sites, but aggregators such as Planet Ubuntu often strip out the embedded videos, so be sure to provide a direct link underneathe the embedded video (example).
- Link to interesting things – if you are discussing something online, always provide a link to it. This helps the user get access to the information quickly and easy.
- Be professional – always keep your posts professional and thorough. Ensure your writing is clear and that you have spell and grammar checked it.
- Be fun – being professional doesn’t mean you can’t be fun. Writing in a fun and amusing way is a great way to keep your readers interested.
- Invite discussion – if your blog has a comments feature, always end your posts and ask for input and opinions from your readers. This provides a wonderful way to trigger some discussion around your post.
In terms of blogging more and getting more eyeballs on your posts, here are some tips:
- Get into the habit – to become a regular blogger you need to get into the habit of thinking “this is cool, I should blog about this“. This can take a while to get used to. If you are in a team, it is helpful to suggest to others when they should blog about something; this keeps us all regularly posting. If you are struggling with getting into the habit, put a reminder in your calendar to remind you.
- Ensure you are aggregated – if you are an Ubuntu Member, be sure to add your post to Planet Ubuntu. Add your post to other appropriate aggregators (e.g. Canonical staff should add their blogs to voices.canonical.com).
- Use social media – post a link to your post on Twitter, Google+, Facebook and other social media accounts.
I am sure there are plenty of other suggestions from you folks; please add them to the comments!