Thursday, September 28, 2006

11 Rules of Blog Hygiene

How to make a good blog

  • Have a well-defined purpose
Your blog must serve a well-defined purpose, and declare it in the title of your blog. Nonspecific blogs do not attract visitors. A blog that is focused on a particular theme is appreciated more than a loosely-woven one. Many people write blogs as if they were their daily journals, and that is fine too. That is a purpose in itself, at least for the author.

  • Write descriptive headlines
When people reach your blog, they'll look at the headline first. The headline for your posts should be descriptive of the content. Otherwise it becomes confusing for the readers. For example, if you are writing about the visit of Gandhi to South Africa and how it changed his life, then the title could well be "Gandhi's visit to South Africa: How it changed his life".

  • Focus on quality
Having quality content on your blog will produce the urge to be read. Most people should be able to generate quality content by themselves, as long as they do enough research or brainstorming on the topic. Make sure to cover as many aspects of the topic as possible. For example, if you are blogging about your shopping experience in the grocery market today, you could describe what all you bought, what you left out, any interesting people you met/saw at the grocery store, any price changes since last time, and so on. The idea is to cover as much of the topic as possible.

Blogs with poor/no content in them are not liked by many. I saw a blog for the first time about 4 years back. It looked like a diary of random events from a real person's life. Many of the posts were one-liners, and it seemed that the author was focusing on quantity rather than quality. My fears were confirmed when I saw one of her posts - "Yay! It's my 200th post on my blog! Oh my God!"

  • Include pictures
A picture is worth a thousand words - it has been said, and rightly so. Pictures make our world colorful. Pictures attract attention. Picture want to be looked at. Whenever possible, try to post a picture on your blog entries. The picture must match the content of your post, and also the overall color scheme of the page if possible. For example, when blogging about my recent visit to a pig farm, it is an interesting (but often forgotten) idea to post those pictures I snapped at the pig farm. If you can't think of a picture to place in your blog, forget it then.

Also, try to include your own picture on the blog. It makes the blog lok a lot more personal.

  • Use consistent and relevant color schemes
There should be ample white space in the blog for easy readability, and a light background. If you keep your fancy pictures as the blog background, it's very difficult to read. Just take a look at any random profile at and you see what I mean.

The color should reflect the nature of your content (e.g. a young girl's emotional blog may have a pink color, a technology blog may have a blue color), but there are no well-defined rules here. Most likely, you shall follow some preset schemes given by the blogging system, but you can always customize the template to suit your needs.

  • Place links and references
Whenever possible, try to include links to other sources of information about the content of your blog post. This ensures that the readers know you're open to others' ideas, and are ready to give your readers a broad point of view. You may consider linking not only blogs that support your point of view, but also pages that are opposite to your point of view. For example, if your blog is describing the capitalist economic practices, you might also want to give a link in the end to communist economy. If you have

  • Respect copyright
Stealing content is an extremely bad idea, because it doesn't benefit anyone. How would you feel if you discover that someone has copied your blog without your permission, and is getting applauded for the stolen content? If you must use content from others, make sure you post a link to their text rather than copying and pasting it altogether. After all, it is your blog, not theirs! If you must copy and paste content from other sites, make sure you have the author's permission, enclose the copied text within quotes, and always give a reference to the original website.

  • Organize and reorganize before hitting submit button
All the paragraphs in a blog should "flow" logically from top to bottom. However, not everyone can write all the paragraphs in a logical sequence in the first go. I can't do it myself. When I start writing the blog, first I tend to write the content that appeals to me, and then I write somethinng that doesn't appeal to me that much. This is quite natural, and happens with everyone. But when I start reading my own blog just before I post it, I discover that some paragraphs should be promoted to the top, whereas others serve better as footnotes. Also, when you rearrange your paragraphs, you may have to add connecting sentences to the end of previous paragraph or the beginning of next paragraph so the "flow of logic" stays smooth.

  • Correct mistakes
There's nothing wrong in making mistakes as long as you're willing to correct them, and learn from them. If someone points out an error in your blog (factual, grammatical, or otherwise), promptly correct it, and thank him/her. Most blogging systems have a spellchecker built into them (if you haven't noticed). It is a good idea to spellcheck your document before posting.

  • Track your visitors
You can track your visitors by Google analytics or a similar service. This will let you know which pages are more popular, and which ones are least so. Knowing this, you can improve upon your weak areas, and attract more traffic.

  • Invite feedback/comments
It is a bad idea to disable comments/feedback on your blog. Comments enable others to be part of your blog, and other people will tell you what they think about your blog. There are times when people email me directly because they want to differ with some of my ideas, and there are times when people share my ideas. Nonetheless, it is good to keep in touch with your readers, so enable comments now if you haven't done so already.

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