I came to know Sara Foss through my husband, when he was a newspaper reporter at The Daily Gazette. Sara is also a fellow New Englander, so even though they are no longer colleagues, we share a love of the Red Sox, the Pats and the Celtics. Sara is a columnist for The Daily Gazette and writes her own blog called Rule of Thumb.
I knew that Sara would be a fantastic resource and guide for my students and I, so I asked if she could write some blogging tips for us to think about as we begin to blog. She also graciously agreed to allow me to post her thoughts here on my blog. I have shared this with my students already, and they truly appreciated Sara's advice. We read, reflected and discussed her blogging tips, and I could hear a large sigh of relief as I sent them off with the task of writing their first blog post. Thank you so very much, Sara!
Some Blogging Tips
By: Sara Foss
Blogging can be a lot of fun, especially if you like the idea of writing for an audience. You can blog about just about any topic - entertainment, sports, movies, politics, parenthood, music, science and even yourself. So you should pick a focus that really interests you. If you really like bikes, you can write about bikes. If you like comic books, you can write about comic books. My blog is a little more wide-ranging - I write about a variety of interests, including movies and sports. For some people, a blog can function as a public online diary, where they share details and stories about their life. These personal blogs can be fun, but if you write one, you want to make sure you don't share information about yourself that you'd rather keep private.
Writing a blog is a little different from writing a paper for school, or a newspaper article. The blogs I like tend to be well-written and thoughtful, but they often lack the polish you might find in a magazine story or a book. Bloggers write quickly and frequently, often providing commentary about events and news soon after they happen. This is part of what's fun about blogging: It gives you a quick glimpse of people's thoughts. I find that my blog is a bit like a notebook - a place where I might tell a story or discuss an idea that I'm not ready to write about more formally. For example, I might write about a book I recently read and post those thoughts on my blog, and then discuss the book in my newspaper column. Basically, don't worry about making your blog perfect. Blogs can be a little messy.
A good blogger writes and updates regularly. Some people might worry about running out of things to say, and getting writer's block, but my feeling is that the best way to prevent writer's block is to write. If you're having trouble coming up with a topic, just pick something and start typing. (I find that surfing the web and seeing what people are talking about in blogs, online magazines and newspapers can help me start writing.) I've been amazed by the things I write when I'm short on ideas, and the reaction people have to them. I once wrote about a disastrous attempt to make an apple pie, and people thought it was hilarious. The only reason I wrote this blog was because I couldn't think of anything to write, and it came out pretty well.
Which brings us to one of the most important things about blogging: your writing style. Since blogging is informal, many bloggers have a more conversational writing style - my friends often tell me that when they read my blog, they can almost hear me talking. If you develop a good style, a topic that could be potentially boring - like making an apple pie - can become a humorous story about how bad you are in the kitchen. Some people think that writing about pets is lame, but if you can tell a good story about your pets, people will be entertained - even people who might think the topic is lame. Of course, some topics are serious - there's no need to try to be funny all of the time.
Bloggers often link to other websites and blogs to provide their readers with additional information and resources. For example, a blogger who writes about music might want to link to a YouTube video of the band they're writing about, or the band's website.
A good blog has personality, and this personality comes from the person who writes it. So when you blog, be yourself and say what you think.