Blogging – where should I begin?

What are the benefits of blogging?
Blogging lets you showcase your knowledge, expertise and opinions within your specific field. By posting blogs (and sharing your blog on social media) you can create a following, raise your own profile and improve your reputation within your industry.

Initial thoughts
Before you start posting, it’s important to outline what you want to achieve eg, do you want to increase your reputation within a specific subject? Do you want to share your knowledge and if so, what’s your area of expertise and who’s your audience? Once you’ve decided on this, stick to it. Focusing in on one main area eg, social media will give your blog a clear purpose and in time, a dedicated readership.

What are the features of a successful blog?

Appropriate length

Consider splitting up long paragraphs into shorter, manageable chunks for your reader, and inserting images, videos and diagrams (if you hold relevant copyright permissions) between paragraphs. Many readers digest blog posts on the move, on their smartphone or laptop, and won’t have a lot of time to devote to posts in their entirety if they’re too long. A helpful guide is to aim for roughly 500 words – long enough to be picked up by search engines, but not too long to lose your readers’ interest. If your blog post exceeds 1000 words you might want to break it up into two, or even three separate posts.

Frequency

It’s important to update your blog with new posts on a regular basis so that you keep your content fresh, engaging readers in new discussions. You may choose to update your blog once a week, or even once a month. There are so many blogs already out there – think about what you would think as a reader.

Which blogs stand out for you? Would you want to revisit old, out-of-date posts or visit new, frequently updated blogs?

Updating your blog regularly keeps your readers engaged, and gives them a reason to come back to your posts. Staying on top of the latest research and news in your area, and mentioning it in posts, will make your blog more newsworthy and attractive to potential readers browsing the net looking for something to read.

Tone of voice

Be natural. If you’re the kind of person who normally cracks jokes to illustrate your point, do the same within your blog. If you don’t, don’t force yourself to do so. In addition keep your language suited to your audience. For example, if you’re talking to academics within your area of expertise, you’ll be assuming they understand advanced theories and concepts, so you won’t need to explain basic concepts as you run the risk of patronising your readership. If you’re talking to first year students however, who may be studying the subject in depth for the first time, you may find it appropriate to explain basic concepts.

Raising the profile of your blog and boosting followership

It’s useful to share your posts as much as possible on social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. LinkedIn actually has its own in-built blogging tool, which provides a fantastic opportunity to raise your profile on the platform. A well as sharing individual posts, make sure you have a link to your overall blog where appropriate. For example, many social media profiles allow you to include a link to your own website in your profile information (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus), so it is worth including it here.

Including links to other websites and news pages in your blog posts helps improve Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), pushing your posts higher up Google search results. For instance, if you’re talking about the latest stem cell research, and you notice that a high-profile news website is also referencing the research, why not hyperlink to the site? You’ll be boosting your own SEO whilst providing readers with further reading material.

Explore our Social Media Toolkit for more helpful hints and tips for managing your own blog.