KM on a dollar a day

Musing on knowledge management, aid and development with limited resources

Going social: 10 tips for bloggers

with 12 comments

I spotted this blog post by Blythe Fraser (@b1ythe) on UNDP’s internal “UN Teamworks” social networking platform – I thought it had some great tips for bloggers which are also relevant outside of UNDP. She kindly agreed to let me include it as a guest post on “KM on a dollar a day”. Blythe is  the Online Communication Specialist in UNDP’s Bratislava Regional Centre. She curates UNDP’s “Voices from Eurasia” blog. 

PhotoUdo Herzog, CC

Just for the moment, let’s put aside why you should be blogging and look at the art of blogging itself.

After editing 555 of your posts on Voices of Eurasia, I learned a lot about your work, and am impressed by all of you. I would also like to share what I learned:

  1. Just do it. Don’t overthink it. Overthinking leads to you writing a very long academic paper that details all of your work, your thoughts, upcoming projects, and predictions, lessons learned, other people’s thoughts, and all the creatures on Noah’s Ark – with footnotes included! All of this is great, but just not all at once. (You can do a series of posts like Alex on behavioural science.) You shouldn’t feel too much pressure, other than to just write it and send it to us 🙂

  1. Shorter is better! You started sending in longer and longer posts, so I established an 800 word limit. The global UNDP blog advises 300 to 350 words. People don’t read content online the same way they do in print. The bottom line: less is more on the web.

  1. Get to the gist – and fast. UNDP is full of people who are used to writing academic papers, and sometimes this is the default style of writing – an overview of the topic first, then the details, then finally the results and conclusions. On the web, you only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention before they leave. To hook someone to start reading, or even to open your post, your title and first line must be engaging, provocative and clearly communicate the topic of your post. It also needs to have keywords for search engine optimization. (I found a great formula for writing headlines.)

  1. It’s from your own perspective. It should be written in the first person. Use “I” and not “we.” This is the expected style of a blog post, and you are also blogging as yourself, an expert in your field, and not on behalf of the whole of UNDP. It also makes it easier to include your opinions, which makes the post more interesting. People have different perspectives, so your blog posts will reflect the diversity of your personality and style. (But people do expect clear and concise writing on the web, so don’t go too crazy. :))

  1. The tone is familiar. Writing in the first person helps, but also try to be informal, like you’re at your kitchen table talking to your friend, or your grandma. 🙂

  1. Ask at least one question somewhere in your post. Your title can be in the form of a question, you can have several questions throughout, and the end of the post is a perfect place for a question. Whatever you do, don’t conclude your post! Many people make a beautiful argument and tie it up neatly with a ribbon. Done and done! Leave people room to engage with your post. Questions are a great way to encourage commenting. And be prepared to respond and talk to people who leave comments.

  1. Understand that your blog post is part of a bigger conversation. Linking to other bloggers, articles and research shows that you are part of the conversation. Including links also allows people to dig deeper into the subject. This can include links to your own content (such as project pages, other posts or updates). Nilgun and Alex’s post is a good example of how to use links. Your post can be a response to someone else’s post (like Alisher’s response to Michael Clemens), and remember to be social and comment on other people’s posts.

  1. Sharing is as important as writing your posts. Communications people invest a lot of time and energy in marketing your blog posts on social media. Sometimes this means others pick up your posts and publish them on their own sites. But we need your firepower too. That’s why we’re always trying to get you on social media and to share with your existing networks and partners. This is all part of opening up, so we can all listen and learn from people and other organizations.

  1. Photos, videos, and multimedia make your post better. There is an art and science to using images on the web, but the bottom line is that articles with images get more views. It’s also difficult to market your posts on social media without them. Luckily our country offices have a lot of great photos, but we also need to keep issues of copyright in mind.

  1. You’ve heard this one before, but it bears repeating: no acronyms and avoid the jargon.

You might also enjoy 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing.

Written by Ian Thorpe

October 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm

12 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. This is excellent!! I just started blogging and having some tips from more experienced people its an amazing resource!

    lost in aid

    October 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    • Good tips, the kind that keeps coming back across bloggers’ experiences. I like the emphasis on blog posts being part of a broader conversation though and have found this to be a great source of blogging material (reacting on other conversations) and a powerful way to connect with others engaged in related conversations.
      I’ve added these tips to this overview of blogging tips, advices, experiences and more:

      Ewen Le Borgne

      October 3, 2013 at 1:18 am

      • Thanks Ewen! Great collection of blogging tips you have there! I’ll be sure to share that with our bloggers.

        blythe (@B1ythe)

        October 3, 2013 at 11:37 am

    • Thanks @lost in aid, have fun with your blogging!

      blythe (@B1ythe)

      October 3, 2013 at 11:38 am

  2. […] reflecting about the value of keeping a journal, like a blog [and even more recently shared these 10 tips for bloggers]. Perhaps it’s the welcome mental break of summer holidays that makes bloggers reflect about […]

  3. […] Read more… […]

  4. […] up by Ian Thorpe (Thanks Ian!) who thought it should go public. He kindly posted it on his blog, KM on a dollar a day, so I thought I should post it on my blog too. Hope you enjoy, and share your […]

  5. Great tips! When you are blogging your purpose should be to engage your visitors into a conversation, which is not always about facts and amount of information but more about connecting on a common ground and learning from each other. I guess this is why short posts with video and other media are very popular. I will definitely use these on my blogs. Thanks

  6. thanks for these tips! I think that the most important is the fact that you must just do it. no need to overthink

    October 13, 2013 at 8:05 am

  7. […] I spotted this blog post by Blythe Fraser (@b1ythe) on UNDP's internal "UN Teamworks" social networking platform – I thought it had some great tips for bloggers which are also relevant outside of U…  […]

  8. […] going to try to follow various bits of advice out there on blogging. I’ll do my utmost to keep my posts short, informal and […]

    Introduction | A Pett Project

    December 16, 2013 at 6:29 am

  9. Thanks – Good list. Now I need to review my blog and see what improvements or corrections I should consider. Thanks again!

    Alfred Halvarson

    January 16, 2014 at 7:30 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: