Digital Scholarship@Leiden

Five Best Blogging Practices

Five Best Blogging Practices

You've decided to blog, but how do you go about it? There is no one true way of blogging, but of course there are best practices. You can find five of the most important ones beyond the cut-off.

If you've decided to start a blog, the next step is deciding how to go about it. Keep in mind: blogging is an endurance sport. You won't be getting huge page views from the get-go; you'll need to build up an audience. Before you start, think about your goals and who you want your audience to be. These factors will help you decide on some other important elements, such as writing style and subjects. Of course nothing is set in stone. You'll find that your blogging will develop, sometimes in unexpected directions. However, of course there are some commonly-held beliefs as regards best blogging practices, and whatever you find works best for, they're concerned with elements you'll have to think about at some point in your blogging career. These are five of the top tips.

Be Current

Be timely, especially if you want to connect your research to the general public's world. Follow current events and if something sparks a connection to your research, blog about it. For example, the post I referenced last week on Luis Suarez and neuroscientific explanations for why he might have set his teeth into his opponent. Or these posts on the Leiden Islam Blog about the ISIS caliphate and the Leiden Safety and Security Blog on female jihadis, both inspired by news coming out of the Middle East.

Be Concise

A blog post is not meant to be an article. Write to the length you need to write, but try to be concise and to the point. Ideally a post is around 500-800 words, but if your natural sweet spot is 1000 that's how many words you use, just as long as you remain on point.

Be Consistent

Try to blog on a regular schedule. If you start blogging 3 times a day for two weeks and then go silent three months people will lose sight of your blog or won't be able to filter the signal to noise ratio. In case you are put off blogging because it might be too much of a time investment, consider creating an institutional or research group blog. Group blogs are a useful way to keep a higher ratio of posts with a less stringent investment time sharing blogging duties with your colleagues, peers, or people with the same interests.

Promote, Promote, Promote

People can't read your blog if they don't know it exists. So share the link. Share it on Twitter, on Facebook, on LinkedIn. Send it to your peers, see whether the communications department at your institute will promote it. And don't share it just once, share it multiple times, it really does make a difference to how many people you'll reach.

There Is No One True Way

There also is no best way to blog. Some people blog a bit every day, other blog once a week, others twice a year and it works for them. You need to figure out what works for you, in style, length and frequency. Whatever you find works for you, the most important thing is that it remains fun. Blogging should never feel like a chore you'd rather avoid as that will reflect in your writing immediately.

More tips and tricks

Blogging Tips for Science Bloggers, From Science Bloggers
Blogging against the stream
A Guide to Blogging for Academics
he Beginner's Guide to Multi-Author Blogging [v1.0]
logging Your Research