Last month, one of my clients got in touch to ask if I could send them some guidance around writing blog posts. They asked me to include the usual things such as:
- Structuring a post
- Making things clear for the reader
- How to grammar/spell check
They asked me to put together something, which effectively is a couple of sides of A4 paper, for the start of the school term for a team they’ll be working with this academic year.
One of the reasons for my delay in getting started (other than the busiest summer, work-wise that I’ve ever had!) is that, rattling around at the back of my mind, is a series on how to write blog posts. While it’s important to cover the bullet points above, I think there’s things to say about in situating blog posts within a wider discourse.
Here’s what I’ve written so far:
- Sitting down to write a blog post
- Putting your blog post into the world
- Deciding what to write about in your blog post
- Tools to help you with your blog post
I hope it will be of use.
Photo by WOCinTech Chat used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.
I’m ill at the moment: I can’t seem to shake ‘flu-like symptoms that struck last Wednesday. On the plus side, not being able to do ‘productive’ work means I’ve got done some stuff I haven’t been in a position to prioritise for a while.
Posterous, a blogging solution I’ve really enjoyed using and have advocated widely, was bought by Twitter recently. It was a talent acquisition, meaning that the future of the service is in doubt. Yesterday, I spent some time moving my Conference and FAQ blogs (previously hosted on Posterous) to subfolders of dougbelshaw.com.
The next step is to find a way to transfer Thought Shrapnel, my Tumblr-powered blog, in a satisfactory way. Truth is, Tumblr is an excellent (although painfully proprietary) platform with some really nice features. I like the defined post types and the way you can queue-up blog posts to go live.
Another thing I’d like to do is move both this blog and my e-books space from separate installations to my new WordPress ‘multisite’ installation running on the site root.
Finally, I’ve discontinued blogging at literaci.es (transferring the posts here) and moved my Ideas Garden to a public Evernote workbook.
You can find all of these spaces linked to from my profile at dougbelshaw.com.
Image CC BY-SA Fey Ilyas
In addition, you may want to check out both Martin Waller and James Michie who have also been consolidating their online presence.
A couple of people in the last month have asked if I’d share which blogs I read regularly. It’s a logical follow-up, I suppose, to my Things I Learned This Week posts. If I used an RSS reader this would be very easy: I’d just export my subscriptions as an OPML file. Readers could then download this and import it into their RSS reader.
But, er… I don’t any more. I made a conscious and deliberate switch to subscribing to blogs by email – either through author-provided functionality or RSS >> Email courtesy of Reblinks. Which makes things slightly more difficult (and this post necessary).
A non-design blog I subscribe to, Alan Levine’s excellent CogDogBlog, featured a post yesterday that discussed the importance of both online and offline filtering. That’s because, as Clay Shirky is always at pains to point out, it’s not information overload, it’s filter failure. Whilst serendipity and specific niche interest are both important things that shouldn’t be neglected, it’s also important to identify people who are awesome filters of information, links and connections.
The following blogs are design-related but also have a community element; they serve as a hub for a wider bunch of people. As such, you’ll find added value in trawling the comments section as much as the posts themselves. 😀
- FlowingData – I really enjoy Nathan Yau’s blog and find his simple and straightforward guides extremely useful as a beginner!
- Smashing Magazine – Design in the widest sense. They often have wonderful posts showcasing the best and brighest stuff on the intertubes in a given area. They also have (downloadable) monthly wallpaper contests – such as this one for April 2010.
- swissmiss – Tina Roth Eisenberg is a prolific blogger, to the extent that she only took a few days off from blogging after giving birth and named her baby after consulting her readers! I love the quirky stuff she posts and it always makes me smile. 🙂
- Information is Beautiful – David McCandless not only has a regular section in the Guardian but has written books. Awesome visualizations and infographics!
- Visual Complexity – The diversity of visualizations and design on this blog is truly stunning.
Looking for more design blog goodness? Try this ‘Top 50 design blogs’ and, of course, AllTop’s Design section. :-p