By: Dan Dunlop
My colleague Kate Gillmer and I were in Vermont last week meeting with one of our hospital clients and a group of representatives from community organizations. Each of the individuals attending the meeting had agreed to become contributors to a new community health blog. Among other things, Kate and I were there to conduct a blogging 101 session with the group. One of our objectives in a session like this is to have the bloggers begin to see themselves as part of a community of bloggers – and learn to support one another in this venture. We ask them to read, comment on and share each other’s posts. After all, when you first launch a blog, readers are scarce and the bloggers can all benefit from moral support.
- Write about topics that excite you. Your enthusiasm and passion will likely be contagious.
- Always keep your readers in mind as you write your posts. Ask yourself: Is this relevant to them? Have I presented this in a way that makes this subject relevant?
- Shorter is usually better. A three-paragraph blog post is a homerun! Many novice bloggers think that each post has to be some major literary work. That mindset is not sustainable. Your goal should be to share information and resources – to convey an idea.
- Keep a running list of blog post ideas on your smart phone. I do this and it is incredibly helpful – particularly when I hit a dry spell.
- Headlines matter, but avoid clever headlines that mislead the reader. Your blog post needs to deliver on the promise of the headline. Otherwise, you’ll simply disappoint readers.
- Use photos and videos to engage readers. I read in an article the other day that the human brain processes an image 60,000 times faster than it does text. Visuals do more than simply add interest; they help you to tell your story more effectively.
- Don’t get discouraged. Blogging can feel like a very lonely activity. Readers are slow to comment. Keep pushing forward. It takes time to build a following.
- Share each blog post widely on platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. I share posts on Pinterest and find that many of my readers find me there.
- Don’t forget to use tags and categories to help readers and search engines find your content.
- Allow for spontaneity. If you see something interesting, write about it. Share it with your readers. Being in the moment helps to make a blog interesting and relevant. You should not have to labor over every post.