Writing for blogs and the Web

How do you write for a blog?

As with most things, there isn’t one “right” way, but let’s start with principles of good writing for the Web. Internalize these, please.

Next, think about writing for a blog specifically. Some general tips here, with a note about optimal post length here. And 10 tips for a good post. Mostly common sense kind of stuff, right?

In blogging, most of the same principles of good writing (offline and online) are very much in play, but here’s where it becomes essential to have voice, personality, flair, and all those things that make someone interesting and something interesting to read (and comment upon). (Think: the writing style of Gawker.) So, writing principles are similar for whatever you’re blogging—shorter the better, use active voice, use strong verbs, attribute sources via hyperlinks, use lists and quotes to break up blocks of text, etc.—but you’ll need to decide what kind of blog writing style to employ. Consider a few examples …

The ticker blog … Posts are very frequent (sometimes every 10 minutes!); they come in short bursts, telegraph-like, with heavy emphasis on quick wit, few words, and often one-link posts directing readers to stories/videos of interest. Example: Instapundit.com

The in-between blog … OK, that’s lame, but I couldn’t come up with a better name for this, which is basically you’re more “standard” blog of frequent posts (at least once daily, but for the more popular blogs sometimes a dozen or more times a day) of 200-some words in length. Examples include Techcrunch and Daily Dish.

The essay blog … Posts are infrequent (sometimes a couple times monthly); they’re classic “think pieces”—long essays of prose, dense with hyperlinks burrowing deep into the subject. Example: Jay Rosen’s PressThink. (Note: even long-form bloggers like Jay Rosen have adopted the ticker style through things such as Twitter; check out his “mindstream“).

OK, now for your “assignment” … visit the blog/website you’re examining for your midterm case study. Give it a 5-minute read-over. How’s the writing? What kind of styles do they employ? Let’s discuss in class.


4 Responses to “Writing for blogs and the Web”

  1. 1 pieper12 October 3, 2008 at 9:13 am

    The blog I’m writing about, postsecret.com is more of an “essay” blog from the list above. Although, it does not have too much writing. Basically, there are posts almost every Sunday, but you get to see about 20 or more new postcards from the users. Most postcards have writing on them, but they are usually short statements from the author.

    I guess that could relate to the “ticker” blog topic since most of the posts are come “with heavy emphasis on quick wit” and “few words”.

  2. 2 Samantha G. October 3, 2008 at 9:18 am

    The blog that I am examining for my midterm assignment is Gothamist LLC. Gothamist ‘s writing adheres to the standard for writing on the web. There are short paragraphs, descriptive headings and multiple lists of information covered daily.
    It is an “In-between” blog they have average about 10-20 new posts a day, the majority of the posts are brief, direct and contain links to more information on the subject discussed.

  3. 3 Kristin October 3, 2008 at 9:52 am

    The writing on readwriteweb.com is one of its strong suits. It is also direct and to the point while holding the reader’s attention. The headlines are very descriptive and it is always easy to guess what the articles are about by just their headline.

    Many of the articles are rich with links, pics, and video when necessary. the articles are clearly edited and slimmed down to the quickest communication possible.

  4. 4 Caitlin W October 4, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Saidthegramophone.com is probably an in-between blog. The writing is truly at least half of the focus anyway (maybe more,) because it is super-descriptive. Basically, the write-ups of the songs they post are stream-of-consciousness artistic word pictures, so people who read the blog are looking for that kind of thing. I don’t think they’d get bored. The descriptions are sometimes funny, sometimes really evocative. . .just really nice. I think that the rules for saidthegramophone.com are probably a little different than they would be for a straight-up news blog, music or otherwise.

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