I blog on a mac - oh, the joy of no virus software
I should start though, by acknowledging blogs take many forms. To some they're a variant of social networking, to others a type of promotion, even an income - many just want to share their stories with family or friends. All these motivations are legitimate.
But my interest is in blogging as a writer; I care about the words, how best to shape them and present my thoughts to a reader. I'm interested in blogging as a means of serious publication, of writing for an audience as carefully as I would if in print. But in doing this I'm always aware that blogs are not books or magazines - we read them differently, with different expectations and in different physical places.
So it seems to me we've already touched on three essentials - the audience, the words, and the context in which they're read. I'd suggest that regardless of content, it's an awareness of that triangle which makes for the basics of a good post.
Audience - your blog might be available to millions but you're not writing for just anyone. I always have a notional reader in mind, and that's not quite the same thing as my 'followers'. My reader is curious and intelligent more than they're male or female, they're definitely an adult, they read a fair bit and probably have a degree... You get the idea. Many others will read the blog and enjoy it, but always I write for that imaginary person.
Words - words matter. It pains me to begin consecutive sentences with identical ones; paragraphs, the same. I have a sharp eye for repetition, I use an online thesaurus and I edit, edit, edit. (The three sentences above have already received
Context - blogs by their nature incorporate distractions: pictures, links, advertisements... In that sense they're similar to magazines. Except there's also the tabs on your browser, a ping for an email, a pop-up selling you insurance. Posts need to be short - or at least shortish. I suspect the ideal is 450 words - any more and you're working hard to hold your reader. That's not impossible (if you're still with me I'm nearing 500 ) but do keep length in mind, and separate your paragraphs, keeping them short. This one is now too long!
In closing, it's always good to link your last thoughts to the first. That's a technique of columnists and indeed of Plato and the old philosophers - who were apt to say, after a long dialogue, that the one thing they knew for certain, was that they knew nothing for certain at all.
I hope you'll take something from this post, but remember there's no correct way to blog - except of course, to enjoy it.