5.1 How long should a blog post be?

5.2 What should a blog post contain?

5.3 How do I write blog posts?

5.4 Should I include images?

5.5 Should I include footnotes/bibliographies?

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5.1How long should a blog post be?
The common wisdom puts blog posts around the 500 words mark.  This is just long enough to say something, but not too long to bore the audience.  That said 500 words is often not enough when you are talking about complex topics.  A limit of 1000 words often works better (and is suggested by some bloggers), and gives a little more leeway to explore a theme without going on too long.  At the end of the day how long should a blog post be?  How long is a piece of string?  Some historians put up blog posts of entire conference papers (running to 3000 or 4000 odd words if not considerably more), others see this as too much.  Really there is no optimum level; it all depends on what you are doing with your blog.  However, generally speaking most people tend to stick to around 500-1000 words.

5.2 What should a blog post contain?

This is entirely up to you.  You can make it as formal or informal as you like and focus on any topic you want.  Most people will include at least one image, a few hyperlinks to resources, and about 500-1000 words, but it is not always necessary to do this.  It is worth keeping in mind that blog posts are generally to be considered short pieces of work rather than long ones (although again this is not a hard and fast rule).  Always try to maintain a consistency to the topics you blog about and how you write them.  It is important to establish a ‘voice’ on a blog – in other words you will need to develop a way of writing blog posts that will become familiar to your audience.

5.3 How do I write blog posts?

However you want!  One suggestion is to write up the blog post in a text editor (such as Word) first and then copy and paste it into the blog afterwards.  This makes the task slightly easier and allows you to build up a series of semi-completed/completed blog posts to have on standby.

Common wisdom is to write semi-informal posts.  This is not an article or monograph, so be freer with your writing, experiment, enjoy yourself.  I would generally suggest that each blog post should focus on one particular topic or item and go into a certain amount of detail by its end (not too much or the reader might get bored).  Sometimes when you have more to say it is worth breaking up a blog post into several parts.  For example:

An outline history of the English Reformation Part 1: Henry VIII

An outline history of the English Reformation Part 2: Edward VI

An outline history of the English Reformation Part 3: Mary I

An outline history of the English Reformation Part 4: Elizabeth I

This is a very broad example, but the subject-matter might be denser than this.  It might be that you wish to break down a complex subject into smaller chunks or to look at the same thing from different viewpoints.  Occasionally, having multi-post blog entries is good to help draw in readers and to divide up your thoughts a little more.

What is most important with a blog is that you find your own voice.  Write how you would like to write (or be read).  If you feel that you need some further guidance on writing blog posts check out this video below on the inverted triangle approach.  Some bloggers recommend it because it helps you to place the most important text in places which will be picked up by a search engine and helps to keep readers interested in what it is you are saying.

One method for writing Blog posts - The inverted pyramid (wikipedia)
One method for writing Blog posts – The inverted pyramid (wikipedia)

 

5.4 Should I include images?

Yes, usually it is good practice to include at least one image even if it is only vaguely tangential to what it is you are writing.  If nothing else it makes the blog post look more interesting, and sometimes it is important for the blog theme to display a post correctly.

The SMKE site gives a good example. Note how the images appear in the shortened version of the blog posts. (click on the image to access SMKE)
The SMKE site gives a good example. Note how the images appear in the shortened version of the blog posts. (click on the image to access SMKE)

There are of course issues of copyright and royalties to consider.  One safe place to go for images is Wiki Media Commons.  The British Library also offer any images published on their blogs to be used under a creative commons licence.  For more detail about Creative Commons licences check out their website.

5.5 Should I include footnotes/bibliographies?

This is up to you, although some people say no.  As blog posts are considered more informal forums for writing about History formal footnotes and bibliographies just seem to get in the way.  At most you might wish to include a short ‘further or essential reading list’ as the end of a post.  Some blogs include a static bibliography page which can be added to whenever the author feels like it.  It should also be noted that footnotes are not easy to add to blog posts and are generally best avoided for that reason alone.

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