If you've read some of my past posts on IFB, such as my post on design and template, or about how to blog about a fashion show you didn't attend, you've probably gotten the impression that I can be a bit of a stickler when it comes to writing, content and format. This is a product of my past – I have always revered written word, and studied journalism in college. I am driven to the edges of sanity by the grammatical errors and sloppy writing I encounter in the blog-o-sphere. Some may say this sounds like a personal problem, and I should, “Relax, man, after all, it's just blogging!”
How do I disagree? Let me count the ways… As a blogger, you're like a self-publishing, freelance journalist of sorts. You report on your life, style, clothes, fashion news and trends, all from your own unique perspective. I believe that if people are taking enough time and care to read what you write, you should take the time and care to post thoughtfully and well!
Since I know that many of you were not journalism students, I've included some quick and easy ways you can apply journalism techniques to your blog for stronger posts. C'mon ya'll – get your Barbara Walters on!
Title Your Post Like A Headline:
- We published a fun video a few weeks ago about tips for how to title your blog posts, so check that out first.
- Next, browse your go-to traditional media sources like The New York Times, CNN, or BBC. Take note of how they use very strong keywords to tell you exactly what the article is about, entice you, and pique your interest.
- Good words to use in your title might include keywords about trends, upcoming holidays, brands, or ‘how to'-type phrasing.
Grab Your Readers With The First Line:
- In journalism speak, this first sentence of your article is called the deck (dek). It's a summary of the entire point of your post – and can be an effective way to continue to draw your readers into your posts.
- Just for example's sake, lets take this post from the Sunday NY Times. The headline reads: Cleaning Up After Nature Plays A Trick. They use the word trick because it's so close to Halloween (clever, but not cheesy), and the first sentence tells you what you need to know: “It was a storm of record consequence, disrupting large swaths of the Northeast in ways large and small: towns were buried in dense snowfalls, closing down streets, schools and even, in some cases, Halloween celebrations.” It's a long sentence, but you know exactly what the rest of the article is going to tell you.
Get An Interview:
- An interview is a way to add instant credibility to anything you're blogging about. If you take the time to include someone else's input, advice, or facts, you're going to come across as a thoughtful, smart and credible source of information!
- Asking someone for an interview can be an intimidating task. As a blogger, you may feel like you're not worthy of asking for an important person's time or opinion. I felt this way all the time as a student. Forget it. Instead remember that people love to hear themselves talk, and love to feel important. They do, I promise.
- If you need a response quickly, step away from the computer and pick up a telephone. I used to hate calling people on the phone, it can be so nerve-wracking, but trust me – it gets easier.
- Whether you reach out to someone via the phone or email, be sure to be clear about who you are and what you want. It's as easy as, “Hello Mr. Obama, my name is Taylor, and I write a blog called White House Chic. I would love to ask you some questions about your ties for an upcoming post I'm writing.”
- Going to the source is an incredibly important part of journalism, and one that will gain your readers' trust and respect.
Use Quotes Correctly:
- If you're quoting someone directly, use your quotation marks, and do not paraphrase.
- If you're going to paraphrase, do so carefully, and take the statement out of quotation marks. You can summarize someones points or opinion, but be sure not to twist them or take them out of context.
- If you're using a quote where the person uses “it” or “he” or “she” in a way where it might not be clear to your readers what they are refering to, use [ ___] after the pronoun to clarify, with the person or thing in question within the brackets.
Do Some Background Research:
- Oh, friends – this is what the internet is for! If you're going to write a blog post about a fabulous pair of YSL shoes, why not look up Yves Saint Laurent (the man, the brand, the history) and include some history or interesting facts in your post? Writing about
- Background information gives your post a much more robust content base, and once again, gives you credibility as a blogger.
Cite Your Sources:
- You can cite your source within the post body, or make a footer at the end of your post.
- Be sure to include links (that work)!
- If you interview someone, you may want to make a note for your readers in the footer that explains this person's full name and job title, so they can better understand why you included their point of view.
I hope these tips help you put a little meat in your blog posts, and inspire you to go the extra distance when creating amazing blog content.