Five more online skills you must master BEFORE you start a blog

campaigns-2Earlier this week, I launched the first of my two part campaign to encourage people to master five online skills before they start a blog. I promised five more online skills. So here they are.

Once again, I make suggestions for both journalists who already write for websites but also for people who do not have access to a website.

Research

In the previous post, I encouraged you to identify a community.

You still need to find out all you can about that it through research.

You might find that your chosen community is overwhelmed with good blogs. What it actually wants is a closed group on a social network where it can discuss business issues. Without research, you might overlook the social network your community is already in. Why set up a LinkedIn group, for example, if your community is obsessed with Facebook.

If you are a journalist, a few questions on your website is one way to collect information.

If you do not have a website, why not use a social network? Join LinkedIn and write up your profile. Then join a group in a sector closest to your potential blogging community. Participate in the discussion areas. Why not ask a few questions yourself?

You don’t need a blog to do research.

Categories

One of the key questions in the research of your community for your blog might be “what information do you need?”.

Once you have the results, you could write a list of subjects in which your community is interested.

Whooa! Don’t let it become too long. Just as your blog will attract more users the more closely it focuses on your community, so those users will be more likely to return if you can keep the content within a narrow range.

Why not try to keep it within ten core subject areas?

Whether you are a journalist of not, visit some blogs and notice how the best blogs use few categories.

You don’t need a blog to work out the core subject areas for your community.

RSS feeds

Bloggers are, by the nature of the media they use, more likely to be web-savvy. Many of them sign up for RSS rather than email subscriptions. Whether you understand RSS feeds or not, find out before you start your blog.

Sign up to Google Reader. Sign up to some RSS subscriptions. Learn to manage you daily reading through RSS feeds.

You don’t need a blog to make yourself familiar with RSS feeds.

Optimise

Have you noticed how certain parts of this post have links, in bold,  to other posts on this blog ? If you click through, do you notice how the same words appear in the original post’s headline? You need to do the same.

If you are a journalist, you have started to put links between stories, one of the five online skills to master before you start a blog that I mentioned in part one of this campaign. Try to use the same words as the previous post’s headline. It’s awkward at first – perhaps you need to rewrite the previous post’s headline – but you will get used to it. Over time, you will begin to notice how you write headlines ready for use as links in future posts.

If you do not write for a website, sign up to Twitter as soon as possible. The discipline of writing meaningful messages in 140 characters will improve the brevity and directness of your writing – all good practice for your future blog.

You don’t need a blog to learn how to write so that your content is more easily found.

Analyse

You’re going to be so proud of your blog when it takes off. But you are only going to be able to assess the success if you have learnt to understand the quantity and quality of your traffic. One way to do this is to get to know Alexa. It shows the traffic and ranking of any site.

If you are a journalist writing for a website, why not input your own site. Then input your competitors!

If you do not have a website you can access, why not log in your favourite site and see how it compares to others that you view.

You don’t need a blog to learn how to analyse traffic.

Are there an other online skills that you think are essential to acquire before starting a blog?

If you think your followers/community on Twitter would be interested in this post, show them your value by reTweeting it to them!

Photo credit: Leonard Low

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About John Welsh

John Welsh has spent his entire working life in business-to-business media, first traditional publishing, having edited three magazines over 14 years, and, second, exhibitions since 2007. He started this blog on 22 June 2008 and ended it on 18 May 2010.
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3 Responses to Five more online skills you must master BEFORE you start a blog

  1. Peter Moore says:

    Good points. I’m finding this blog an increasingly useful resource, so please keep the posts coming.

    In your ‘analyse’ section you refer to Alexa, but I’d suggest having a look at http://website.grader.com/ , which generates an overall marketing report after amalgamating a range of different online tools. It gives you a clear idea of your incoming links, number of indexed pages and your social media presence. Might be worth a look.

    I’d like to throw a Twitter based post in your direction. How many people do you think a user can follow and maintain meaningful connections? Obviously Stephen Fry can’t know what 70,000 people are doing, but 100? 200? 500? Do those who follow too many run the risk of losing one of Twitter’s great advantages: the ability to follow and learn? I’d be interested to see your thoughts in a post.

    Essential online skills to have before starting a blog? A clear objective. That’s what most people are missing and what the best blogs have.

    Thanks,

    Peter

  2. John Welsh says:

    Hi Peter
    Thanks for your kind comments and your great suggestion about Website Grader. I am going to try it out.
    And thanks again for the suggestion on the post about Twitter. I’ll do some thinking.
    Cheers

  3. Pingback: My footprints across the web (30.01.09) | Chris Deary

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