Some tips to beat blogging stage fright!

Rather than add this as a comment on my last post about blogging top tips, I thought I’d post again as it’s more visible both to search engine bots and real users trawling these pages, plus it helps keep the SEO of the blog up by adding new posts – there you go, another tip for you!

Thanks to @markmcguinness for tweeting about this useful post for blogging beginnersHow to Create Your Own Blogger Stage Fright – and then Kick Its Ass (by James Chartrand at Lateral Action).

And Twitter, that’s a whole other topic to get stuck into “why”s, “how”s and “when”s. Check out what we’ve blogged about twitter by using the tag cloud.

Teens don’t blog.

Pew Internet has published a report showing that young people are in decline when using blogs, while their interaction with social networking sites (like Facebook and Myspace) is on the up. Check out the findings here. The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

In a hurry? Fear not! Mashable have covered the report in a quick and short article which you can find right here. And while it focuses on American teens, it’s still a useful insight into the ever-changing shifts with teen behaviour!

Get blogging with a little help from the best

Back on blogging again. So you’ve got your platform, you’ve made it look pretty, you’ve added your tag cloud and your twitter stream… now what? How do you get started with that slightly important part called content? Learn from the best of course. Here are some of my favourite blogs which I think are successful for very different reasons. What can you learn from them?

For content
Gnat Gnat – written by my lovely friend DK (so maybe I’m biased…) it taught me a lot about what a blog can be. This is just a collection of words, images, videos etc that make him laugh, make him think, make him cry… things that give us an emotional response that he thinks are worth sharing with the world. Keep it short and let people make their own minds up about what they see.

For design
pandemian – it’s a blog, but it doesn’t look like a blog! This showed me that you that you don’t have to stick to the traditional formats

For business communications
Mediasnackers – it has the strengths of a blog in having video and images embedded where it makes sense, not where the template demands it. Plus it shows authors of posts, it’s not a nameless faceless webpage, and you can comment! Brilliant for listening and exchanging with your clients and colleagues

For community building
Etsy – or “the Storque” as it’s known. This is a place for the numerous craft makers and designers that sell their wares on the website to come together, learn, share and support each other in their artistic and entrepreneurial ventures. I love that it’s public but clearly has the sellers at its heart – after all, Etsy would be nothing without them.

Please do share your favourites here, and tell us all why they inspire you!

Why blog?

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit it – I was the AL blogging champion and it’s been longer than I care to remember since I last posted anything. It was a busy autumn! And then a lazy December… And as we all know, the longer you put something off the harder it is to get back on it. But here I am! And hopefully I’ll continue to add lots of useful content in the coming weeks (rather than just  be lazy and tweet it – we’re @audienceslondon on Twitter by the way!).

So why push myself to get blogging again? Well this has been inspired by a couple of clients who have recently been in touch asking “why should I have a blog?”, “how do I write a blog?” and other general good practice questions, so I thought I’d share my experience in the hope to support others going through the blogging journey for the first time:

MY TOP TIPS

Why blog? Here are a few reasons why:

It will likely increase traffic to your website – I’ve been monitoring our web traffic through Google Analytics and I’ve certainly seen an increase directly from the blog

It’s a simple and quick search tool – a blog is an ideal place to host links to resources and contact details, whilst also easy to tag subjects and themes of information, e.g. “Diversity” or “Access”

Advocacy – it’s been a great tool for AL to show that we keep an ear to the ground about a number of subjects and work in a broad range of issues within the cultural sector

Power to the people – blogs are designed (in the majority) to enable comments and discussion on posted topics

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) – Blogs have great SEO (find out why here) this ensures that they appear high in Google and other search engine results pages. If your website is struggling with other sites which have similar content to get that top spot, a blog might just pip them to the post!

Some advice on how to get started:

Start internally – this allows your staff to become familiar with the blog and how it works without feeling that the world is appraising the site before you have much content!

Allow all staff to contribute – everyone has something to say, and most blogs allow multiple users to edit and post. It’s a good tool for internal relations and sharing all the knowledge that you have as a team.

Have a think about what functionality you want – multiple users? Comments? Tag clouds? There are lots of blog platforms out there so before you create your account have a dig around. Here’s a good guide to choosing your blog platform from Jennine at Independent Fashion Bloggers

But don’t forget, blogs are not websites, and can never have the functionality of your own custom built site. If you’re a small operation and don’t have the dollar to  get a website built, then a blog can be a good staring place for an online presence. That’s what I’ve been doing with my theatre company – Longshot Theatre, yes it’s real!

There are lots of sites out there which give advice on starting a blog, but personally I think there’s no better way to learn the ropes than to just get stuck in!

P.S. This is a bad example of a blog in one way – you should keep it short and sweet!!