Du Malone writes: On the page about guest posts I mentioned that we’re open to suggestions for guest posts from people who are considering blogging about FM but who have yet to start.

Here, for anyone who’s new to blogging, I thought I’d set out some introductory advice.


Here are my recommendations:

  1. Decide on the exact audience that you wish to reach.
  2. Analyse that audience. Ask:
    1. what can you presume they know already?
    2. what can you presume they don’t know?
    3. what interests them?
    4. what would be out-of-bounds for them?
  3. Keep your posts short. Doing so makes things easier for both you and your readers.
  4. Use frequent sub-headings to make your text easy to scan and to digest.
  5. Keep paragraphs short — much shorter than you would in print. A single sentence may well prove sufficient.
  6. Sprinkle in some very short sentences.
  7. Remain within the law. In particular, avoid using material (for example, photographs) that you don’t have permission to use. If you haven’t already, acquaint yourself with Creative Commons licences.

A note about length

So far as I can judge, the conventional wisdom in the community is that posts should typically consist of 800-1200 words. Though I agree that length can work well, I think it’s too long for a typical post.

I also think that, in contrast, short posts — of, say, 300-600 words — can work well.

My argument against typically lengthy posts isn’t based on research evidence. It stems from my own experience.

Reading and writing

As a reader I find that when confronted with a post of, say, 1000 words, I often think ‘Oh, I’ll read that later’. Which often turns out to mean I don’t read it at all. Or I skip drastically and so end up reading only a modest fraction of the text.

I also notice that beginning bloggers often give up quite early. I suggest that one reason is that the obligation they feel to write lengthy posts proves too onerous.

If you have enough content for a lengthy post, one solution might be to see whether you can divide it into more than one post.

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