Phil Clark started the blog Zerochampion in February 2007 and focuses on one one particular community – that of sustainability. He also cultivates a Twitter following with his sometimes ironic Tweets (disclosure: and is a colleague). Here he has asked his readers to answer the question, what are the key five principles of blogging?
I’ve been blogging for just over two years now at Zerochampionand while the tool is essentially one that offers you freedom there are a few principles I think that are crucial to establishing yourself both as a trusted voice and to building a loyal and growing audience. This is especially true if your blog is one that is not just personal but plays a part in your role as a practitioner, professional or journalist.
In order to cement the five principles I’ve worked up I put the question out to my audience and got some fascinating results. While the commenters picked up on different aspects about blogging I think there were core messages that came across. So here goes:
1 It’s journalism but not quite as you know it -There are key skills that transfer to blogging from journalism (writing style, grasp of subject, interpretation and analysis etc,) but there are other qualities you need to possess, such as
- a greater openness with your audience,
- more honesty in admitting the limits of your knowledge in writing and
- an eagerness to engage more directly with your audience.
Here’s a perspective from one of my readers William Shaw:
Journalists make the mistake of thinking they’re like a rolling op-ed page… that they’re writing the last thought on something, whereas really a blog is about your third or fourth pass at an idea.
2 Be passionate - You need a real passion for the subject of your blog – Without I think you’ll struggle for two reasons,
- I’m not sure the audience will really believe in what you’re writing or connect with you,
- and secondly I think you’ll struggle to keep the enthusiasm going to keep it fresh and updated.
3 Be patient- Nothing online is overnight as I discovered when starting to focus my attentions on online. You’re not going to get a string of comments days after you start. It takes effort, but the rewards are fantastic. I have developed relationships that are as strong as any than I have made as a journalist through more traditional means such as face to face meetings.
4 Experiment– Your blog doesn’t have to be flat prose. There’s a freedom to blogging that’s liberating. Try things out few quick examples — use audio-visual material or style your posts differently. Why not try a poem, a bit of satire, a conversation or just ask series of questions? William Shaw again:
A blog is a try-out of a half-formed thought. That’s why it’s such a wonderful form.
5 Blog first time– I find that holding on to ideas is more often than not fatal for blogs. Wait for even a day or so and the inspiration wanes. If you let an idea fester it does just that – fester and wane. Get it down as soon as the inspiration takes you.
Picture credit: sideshowbarker