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So you want to start a blog? Here are some points to consider

Cass Savellis notes some aspects to be aware of when starting a blog, and how to make yours distinguishable from the rest.

Blogging – with the Internet becoming our main source of news and information, it seems just about everyone has a blog. So how do we differentiate the professional journalist blogs from the others? Here’s a few tips to follow if you want to make your blog noteworthy.

– Keep it professional

Make sure your spelling, grammar and punctuation is immaculate. This is the first thing most people notice when reading, and it can dent your credibility as a writer if you can’t get the basics down pat. Make your article significant, don’t just write about what you did that day or what was on TV.

Proofread your work several times and if someone else can read it, even better. Print a copy if it helps – I find errors are more noticeable on paper rather than a computer screen. Treat your blog as if you’re writing for any other publication, always work to the best of your ability.

– Don’t just use blog posts as rants

Opinion pieces are an acceptable form of journalism, but make sure they’re supported by evidence. Examples, research, quotes or other articles that sustain or contrast your argument all help to validate your work. Also make sure your article isn’t too lengthy, keep it concise. It’s about quality, not quantity.

There also has to be a reason for your opinion. For instance, ‘I’m not a fan of Facebook, because I prefer communicating with people face to face. The internet has made us lose this personal interaction’. Instead of, ‘I hate Facebook, it’s really annoying. What a stupid way to contact people!’. See the difference in professionalism? Imagine reading the latter in the newspaper.

– Publicise through social media

You’ve created a blog, but how do you get people to read it? At present, social media is the fastest and most effective way to get your voice out there. It allows you to reach a large audience without actually communicating with anyone face to face, you can get people you’ve never met to read your work.

Twitter and Facebook aren’t just for entertainment, they are now significant journalist tools. If you already have personal accounts, set up professional ones specifically for advertising your writing. Tag people and places you’ve written about so that when someone searches that topic, your post/tweet will be listed.

– Have a regular writing schedule

You want to have a constant audience, therefore writing pieces on a regular basis will keep people coming back to your site. This is necessary practice if you want to get into professional writing. Working to deadline is a basic skill and essential in the workforce.

It will also prove your reliability as a writer. If you’re applying for a job and can show that you firstly have a blog, and secondly, that you can maintain it, you’re illustrating your ability to be organised and show your self-motivation. Aim to publish at least a piece a week.

– Remember it’s not just about writing

How does your blog appear visually? Words alone are not very pleasing to the eye. Draw your audience in using images, just make sure they’re not copyrighted – or even better, take them yourself.

Don’t forget about hyperlinks, to give your readers more information. This proves that you’ve taken the time to find relevant sources, which also makes your work more valid. Use tags and categories to organise your blog into specific topics and make it convenient for readers to access all articles. Lastly, the first aspect readers will see is the title – make it brief and catchy.

Cass Savellis is a final year Bachelor of Journalism student and part of the upstart editorial team. She writes a blog and can be found on Twitter @csavellis.

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