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:
- Decide on the exact audience that you wish to reach.
- Analyse that audience. Ask:
- what can you presume they know already?
- what can you presume they don’t know?
- what interests them?
- what would be out-of-bounds for them?
- Keep your posts short. Doing so makes things easier for both you and your readers.
- Use frequent sub-headings to make your text easy to scan and to digest.
- Keep paragraphs short — much shorter than you would in print. A single sentence may well prove sufficient.
- Sprinkle in some very short sentences.
- 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.