How To Blog Like A Journalist

 

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.

 

 

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23 Responses

  1. Mode Plus

    This article very is helpful. Blogging in a foreign language makes me more alert for grammar and common mistakes. Though I still have a long road to go.

    Reply
  2. Tamara

    Great Tips! I’m a new fashion blogger who also has a background in journalism, and i’m constantly working on ways to display that skill in my writing style.

    Reply
  3. angela

    I love this article. One of the key things that I think you are missing is: being timely is everything. I feel that if you want your blog to have clout then you need to work on posting as soon as possible after an event occurs. No one wants to read old news and if you are the first to put out a story about an event you have an edge (few people are going to read 5 articles about the same event). I cannot tell you how many times I have had to explain to someone, “Yes, I did just post a story about something that happened 2 hours ago. No, I am not an overachiever, I just want to be the most relevant.”

    Reply
  4. Marcela

    Ironic how you say you’re a stickler for grammar yet you used ‘site’ for ‘cite’.

    Reply
    • taylordavies

      I think you may be right Wendy, and I’ve blended my terms together – thanks for the catch 🙂

      Reply
  5. GFS

    Amen sister! From a fellow Journalism graduate to another…thank you!

    Can you add to your list to avoid using lower case letters at the beginning of sentences?

    Oh…the difference between defiantly and DEFINITELY!

    That is all!

    Reply
  6. besty

    you have a typo in the line that reads,

    ‘I believe that if people are taking enough time and care to readwhat you write, you should take the time and care to post thoughtfully and well!’

    ha ha !

    Reply
  7. Hannah

    Brilliant advice here. Having just finished a journalism degree and being a new blogger these are basic things all journalists know, and blogger’s should be aware of 🙂

    Reply
  8. Jaspe

    I love this post, expresses exactly what I was thinking of lately !

    What I try to do is not only think as a journalist, but as a FASHION journalist. I guess that has become the core of what I do now, inspired by the big magazines.

    Reply
  9. Sasha

    Nice post Taylor. Refreshing and as relevant for students and recent graduates as it is for seasoned professionals. Well done!

    Reply
  10. Alexandra

    Taylor, thanks for the great tips you always give us! This post was definitely useful! Though I have a question: lately I see more and more bloggers who blog in two languages (in English and in their mother language) Case in pint: my own blog. Do you have some tips for people who aren’t native English speakers how to improve their writing (I don’t mean spelling check of course)?

    Many thanks in advance

    Alexandra

    Reply
  11. Lou Jones

    Great post. Even if you don’t want to be a fashion writer it’s important to compose your posts as well as you can, as you never know who’s reading your pieces.
    For me, if a blog lacks quality writing, no amount of pictures will make up for what you haven’t done with the piece.

    Reply
  12. Lou Jones

    Also, I write a two page spread for a fashion mag about street style – and while there’s a lot of writing involved, there’s a lot of research as well so it helps if you’re inquisitive and passionate about your subject. Stay educated!

    Reply