First steps toward successful blogging


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  • I would not have gotten the opportunities I’ve had to meet with Senators and senior WH staff, to go to the White House or DNCC without blogging.
  • Don’t discount the person next to you. Ezra Klein was a scrappy college student at UCSC when I met him. Now he writes for the Washington Post.
  • Note: I’ve actually written for a dozen other blogs as a guest blogger or online columnist that are not included in this chart: GovFresh, The Politicus, Emerge America’s blog, the Truman Project blog, ecofabulous, Real Simple blog, Vivanista, Forbes Russia and probably a couple more. Also note: some of these are professional paid journalism gigs and some are unpaid or what I call “for perks” i.e. providing an extra large audience or access. Some posts have been syndicated or highlighted at bigger publications including and – the benefit of blogging for the mainstream media.
  • People can look at your LinkedIn profile and see you’ve done cool stuff. They can see you have a lot of friends on Facebook. They can find your witty banter on Twitter or the news you like, but they can’t really get a sense of who you are and how smart you are unless they can read your words or hear your voice.
  • Blogging helps leaders become comfortable with op-ed style and online community engagement. Don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Look into joining a group blog if starting your own seems too daunting.
  • Experiment, experiment, experiment.
  • Some bloggers are a bit elitist, so it takes a while before you can be a part of their club. Just keep writing good content and don’t worry about them.
  • This is not a function just of blogging. This can happen no matter what you do online, or if you don’t do anything online. People will talk about you if you’re out in the public, so it’s best if you control your image. The greater risk is if you are NOT online. Can’t control what’s out there about you. Better to push more positive content.
  • E-mail back channels are the secret to success for most bloggers. Some bloggers are so well-known that they don’t need them, but the rest of us do. It’s a basic favor exchange. I tweet your post, you tweet mine. Be courteous and the blog love will follow.
  • First steps toward successful blogging

    1. 1. First Steps Toward Successful Blogging By Sarah Granger, PublicEdge & the Center for Technology, Media & Society June 2012
    2. 2. Presenter Background (Sarah Granger) Blogging for a decade, including covering DNC, White House, Fashion Week Led the launch of “first true weblog by a politician” during 2004 presidential race Helped launch over a dozen blogs, mostly for women’s organizations Blogged for nearly 20 different blogs and several other online magazines Current blogs for major publications, SFGate (SF Chronicle), BlogHer & Huffington Post
    3. 3. Introduction: What is Blogging, Really? Self-publishing of articles on a particular type of online platform Closer to the op-ed than traditional journalism Generally not edited by anyone but the author of the blog post Personal viewpoints on issues, events, topics – raw, casual Blogging is all about authenticity – keeping it real – and interesting
    4. 4. Do You Really Need a Blog? No, but you need a voice online & blogging’s the easiest way to start Blogging = best way to build your online presence over short period of time Blogging makes you a better writer for other types, like op-eds Blogging gives you subject matter credibility
    5. 5. Who Are Bloggers? Bloggers can be anyone, from POTUS to a high school kid Bloggers can be political experts with a deep level of knowledge or just an interested person with an opinion Bloggers used to need some level of technical expertise to understand back end of the systems; now they can be anyone Bloggers for the most part are NOT paid – this is a labor of love for them
    6. 6. Blogger Power Never underestimate the power/influence bloggers can wield Even small blogs can get national attention if topic is important enough – search engines & major media outlets will pick it up Blogger influence can be subtle – number of page views may not necessarily indicate an influential blogger Each person has a voice – this is why we love blogs – they are democratic
    7. 7. How Do Top Political Bloggers Get Started? Passion for issues Unique voice Appropriate timing in political cycle Available time to write and learn the back end of blogging Experience writing, advocating, educating or in other media Comfort with online publishing systems
    8. 8. Sarah’s Path as an ExampleTech: IT -> Internet Project Management -> Internet Director / Directed 1st MajorPolitician Blog Launch -> PublicEdge: WomenCount / WCF (Congress)Tech writing: newsletters -> published papers -> Security Focus -> MindJack -> Sairy-> Digital Landing -> Spectrum magazine (WH press)Parenting: Share Your Story -> Silicon Valley Moms Blog -> MOMocrats (DNCC)Local: SVMoms -> Bay Area Parent -> SFBayStyle -> NBCBayArea -> SFGate (Prime)Women & Politics: Political Voices of Women -> BlogHer (WH Sr Staff, Senate)Tech Politics: Future Campaigns -> HuffPost OTB -> techPresident -> HuffingtonPost (Topic main pages, WH event)
    9. 9. Why Blog (or vlog)? Provides a solid starting platform for your thoughts and your unique outlook on issues Gives you a chance to say whatever you want about the things that are important to you to an interested audience (giant megaphone) Gives you a central point of focus for online engagement Allows you to experiment with your authentic voice and become comfortable with public dialogue Connects you with people you would not otherwise meet
    10. 10. Blog Lingo Post – article or main news item that rotates as new content published Page – static content that hosts information like your bio or contact info Comment – comments from readers Category – topic or general area for organizing post content Tag or Keyword – keywords used for searching posts Blogroll – list of related blogs
    11. 11. Blogging Engines Blogger – hooked into Google Wordpress – easiest, most design options (paid advanced opts) Typepad – best for multiple bloggers (paid advanced opts) Tumblr – easy to customize, more common with millennials Posterous – simple, easy to post from mobile Drupal – complex, best for larger organizations Moveable Type – best for major publications (Huffington Post)
    12. 12. First Steps to Becoming a Blogger Take your list of top blogs in your local area and comment on them Tune into the conversations, get to know the regular commenters as well as the bloggers Try out one or two of the blogging engines (for free, set on private) Try writing some longer posts on Facebook, see how they feel Give guest blogging a try Think of categories & topics you want to write about
    13. 13. Blogging Tips A blog provides a sense of dynamic activity Don’t do it alone unless you can commit the time! Posts can be syndicated & reused easily Great tool for news & multimedia sharing Blogs must be updated regularly with fresh content Moderating comments and responding is essential
    14. 14. Guest Blogging Easiest to do once you know bloggers and have commented on their blogs Pitch specific content that is NOT self-promotional; think of it as an op-ed type opportunity Write about an issue you care about, explain why you have a unique angle Start small, build gradually (don’t try for The Huffington Post right away) Make sure to proofread, provide links, don’t send Word files, and do as much of the work for them so it’s easy and fast for them to publish
    15. 15. Group Blogs Another easy way to get started – group blogs or blog diaries Launch a sub-blog on somebody else’s site or blog, i.e. BlogHer, Daily Kos Join a group of bloggers in a certain area, i.e. K12 News Network, MOMocrats, Latism Sign on to blog for a local or national nonprofit blog where you’re involved Commit to writing 1-4 times/month at first
    16. 16. Content is King No matter how small the blog, quality content trumps quantity Think about your audience who would you like to reach? Make a list of all the issues, causes and campaigns important to you Read related articles, think about your perspective, take notes Write about whatever angle you think is unique Don’t worry about post length – 2 paragraphs or 20 is fine Link to sources and other posts, articles of interest
    17. 17. Blogging ProcessRead, research, write, edit, publish, link, promote, repeat!
    18. 18. Comment Moderation Tips If you manage your own blog, make sure to turn on comment moderation Default moderation to pending approval so that all comments must be read first before approved Always watch the comments on the blogs for defamatory or sexist comments – trolls can come in a variety of shapes & sizes
    19. 19. Announcing Your Blog Make sure you’re already on other social media first Have 5-10 engaging posts already on the blog Send out e-mail as you would in fundraising outreach – start with your inner circle and branch out from there Link the blog to your social network accounts, then promote and link to the blog from your social networks Don’t be afraid to ask your close friends & colleagues to comment to build the conversation on your blog Take advantage of your full network as soon as you’re ready
    20. 20. Blog Promotion List Make sure to leave no stone un-turned when building your list The usual suspects: home or work addresses, phone numbers, old business cards, conference attendee lists Additional mobile numbers, Skype addresses, Instant Messaging accounts E-mail addresses, groups, lists Social media accounts: Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
    21. 21. Building Your Blogging Community Ask bloggers you know to link back to your blog (link exchange) List your blog on Facebook Networked Blogs, BlogHer, other blog networks Ask around for blogger lists you can join (but don’t push it) Follow bloggers on Twitter, Facebook Experiment with RSS readers (Google Reader is easy) Attend blogger conferences or online activist events (Netroots Nation, Right Online, New Organizing Institute, etc.)
    22. 22. Talking with Other Bloggers What do they cover and what’s their angle? What can they teach you that you may not know? How can you help each other? What blogger networks are they a part of that might be a fit for you? Note: bloggers trust people, not politicians, policies or promises.
    23. 23. Engaging with Bloggers via Social Networks Follow bloggers of interest on Twitter, FB Retweet or repost what the bloggers are saying that’s relevant to the campaign and the voters Reply to what the bloggers are saying – engage them like in blog comments Think of it as an ongoing dialogue Be careful not to overdo it – don’t harass them – they will know when you’re pandering for their attention
    24. 24. Blogger & Social Media Etiquette Always take an integrated approach – put your information in different forms and make sure outreach runs smoothly If someone puts up a blog post, shares your Facebook message, retweets your alert, sends e-mail to their network, etc. make sure to thank them Put anyone who helps you out on a list and make sure to keep them informed of whatever issue or topic you’re working on Always be considerate to people on the other end of the wire – they could be cancer patients, working on tough deadlines – be considerate
    25. 25. Tips for Reputation Control Promote a positive image early & often Curate content always keeping image, reputation and message in mind Buy as many domains relating back to your name and blog name as possible Perform regular “vanity” searches to check on SEO If there’s a problem, attack it head-on, immediately
    26. 26. Blog Metrics/Tracking Sitemeter, Google Analytics, Wordpress track wide range of metrics Overall Traffic Referring pages Location of visitors/users Time on site Pages &/or posts most visited
    27. 27. Integrated Blog Marketing Strategy Social media is powerful & influential, including blogs, social networks, microblogging (Twitter), images & video Integrate social media such that your entire online persona shows Auto-post updates from blog to Facebook & Twitter Reuse content & post at regular intervals – “drip irrigation” (Sally Lieber) Remember to keep it personal, keep it “social”, be authentic
    28. 28. Back Channel Networking E-mail lists Shared documents (Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, DropBox, PBWiki) Online chat tools (Google+ Hangouts, Skype, Jabber) Instant messaging (AIM, YIM, MSN, Skype) Text messaging (via mobile phones SMS) Online conference call tools (
    29. 29. Back Channel E-Mail Joining existing blogger or activist e-mail lists can be invaluable Creating e-mail and document sharing groups for campaigns, causes, projects, etc. is imperative for ease of communication Yahoo Groups or Google Groups commonly used – set defaults to private & reply-to-sender (vs. reply-all) Remember that the netroots are grassroots online organizers in a global network, not just local communities; the reach is large
    30. 30. ContactE-mail: sarah@sarahgranger.comTwitter: @sarahgranger
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