Blogging Workshop: outline for facilitators + tips on blogging

Yesterday I conducted a blogging workshop for the staff at The Uniter. The Uniter is the weekly journal that I write a health column for and do a bit of editing with.

When I first offered to host the blogging workshop, I didn’t really have any set ideas in mind about what I would talk about. I just knew that it was important that I get across the reasons for why the writers at the newspaper should get involved with blogging. That was the main intention.

blogging workshop

Once I knew what my goal was and what I ultimately wanted everyone to walk away from the blogging workshop with, I had to backtrack. We have to work on figuring out how we are going to achieve that goal after we know what the goal is. Backtracking involved thinking about my own experiences with blogging: how did I get started? How did my own blog(s) develop? How has it helped my career? What’s the point of it anyway?

This is the outline that I came up with for my blogging workshop:

What is blogging?

  • It is a series of online articles.
  • It is a community-based system; anyone can read and comment on blogs, and from this a community of like-minded people is built up.
  • It is your voice. You can write about whatever you want on your blog.

What are the differences between blogging and writing for a paper?

  • Blogging is all about fast, immediate information and feedback. Journalists can take advantage of blogging by being the first person to share a news story with the public.
  • Conversation: comments are a key part of the blogging experience. Unless the comments are closed, anyone can write their thoughts on the blog post. This allows for a better understanding between the writer and the reader about what the blog is about. It also gives the writer a better idea of what the readers are interested in, and allows for a broader range of perspectives on any topic.

What are some perks of blogging?

  • Gaining a reputation.
  • Reviewing products and getting book deals/free trips: powerful people read blogs! Many bloggers have gotten book deals and some even get movie deals (think Julie & Julia). Companies want their products to be known, so they will contact bloggers and give them free products to review. Sometimes the companies will also offer bloggers trips to their manufacturing facilities to spread the word about their products.
  • Networking (and receiving exclusive information from sources). This is more applicable to journalists, but the idea here is that once your blog is known to be a reputable source, it is highly possible that experts in your field of interest will contact you and offer you the latest information before anyone else is aware of it.

How can blogging improve my writing?

  • Practice, practice, practice! If you blog daily or weekly, your writing cannot help but improve.
  • The writing style of a blog might be different than that of newspaper journalism, but broadening your style of writing allows for a broadening of your abilities as a writer.

How can I use blogging as a tool for social networking?

  • Comment on other blogs relevant to what you are writing about. Getting your name out there among the community that you are interested in can be beneficial to getting others to read your articles. You can find blogs in your field of interest simply by typing key words + blog into Google.
  • Linking to other sites/blogs is a way to share information with your readers that you find valuable.
  • Interviews and reviews. The people you interview and the companies whose products you review will want to spread the news that they are being talked about in the blogosphere.

How can I get started blogging?

  • Read other blogs to get a feel for it. You can better understand the way the blogging world works just by checking a bunch of them out.
  • Understand what you want to blog about and the voice that you want to use. Think about the genre of the blog and the formality of tone you’re interested in using.
  • What do you have to offer that other writers do not?
  • Who will be reading your blog?

What are the key factors for successful blogging?

  • Regular posting. If you don’t keep it regular, you’re going to lose your readers. And it won’t help your writing if you rarely post.
  • Build a community and keep the conversation and discussion flowing: get to know your readers and involve them.
  • Spread the news about your blog. This can be done by word-of-mouth, with a link on your business cards/email signatures, and included in your by-line in pieces you write for other publications.
  • Keep the interest up for your readers. Include pictures, polls, podcasts, videos, or regular features. Unless you already have a nice little following built up, or unless a longer post is absolutely necessary, try to keep your articles shorter to begin with. Otherwise, readers are going to just skim or not read the article at all.
  • Be professional and follow basic guidelines of good journalism (the obvious: fact check/spell check, re-read your work, act respectfully, avoid defamation).

How can I counter the drawbacks of blogging?

  • Time-consuming: think about what you want to write about in advance and set aside the time to do it.
  • Getting ideas: work with stories you already have (expand on articles you have written for the paper) and write about what interests you. Check out what other people are saying in the blogosphere and build off of that (and be sure to link back to their blogs to credit your source!).
  • Gaining readership: let the world know about your blog!

And that was the essence of my blogging workshop. If you are considering starting up your own blog, the above tips might help. If you have any other questions about blogging, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them or point you in the right direction to someone who can give you a more satisfactory explanation.

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2 comments

  • Lance says:

    Hi Sagan,
    This is a really good review of what blogging is! Nicely done.

    The one that really jumps out for me is this idea of how it can improve your writing skills. It’s much like the mantra – practice makes perfect. The more you’re out there writing, the better you do get at it, and at your “style”.

    Great job with this!

  • Sagan Morrow says:

    Lance- so many people seem to be afraid of blogging because they don’t have any idea what they *should* write about. But just getting started writing, about absolutely anything, is a really big step that will help so much!

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