What’s in a Blog?

Have you ever noticed what makes you continue to read a blog or bounce after the first few moments?  Is it the blogger’s words?  Too many, too little, too boring, too complicated, or completely irrelevant to your search?  Or could it be the layout?  Overly cluttered or not broken up with images?  The appeal of a blog is unique to each individual.  So, how can a blogger create a product appealing enough to gain traction?

Paper on vintage typewriter with words blog typed on paper

Photo source: Getty Images

Throughout the Communication Strategies for Emerging Media course, we learn how to create relevant and appealing blogs that embody the ideal structure and flow for effectiveness. Blogging, like all forms of technical communication, has its own style and character.  What’s done on Twitter or Instagram, doesn’t have the same appeal or value in a professional blog. I’ve learned through this course and then analyzing my own interaction with blogs, that the simpler is better.  I’m much more likely to read something all the way through if it is concise and not overly wordy.

 

Digital Literacy for Technical Communication (Spilka, Ed., 2010) offers good technical writing practices that apply well to blogging platforms.  Granularity is a term used in technical writing that explains effective digital spaces should have a balance of text-based information chunks and multimedia applications.  However, depending upon the audience, the way that is done is not always the same.  We must understand our audience and the message we are trying to deliver. Granularity furthermore, has three levels of magnification to consider: microscopic (close perspective), mesoscopic (middle perspective), and macroscopic (far perspective). The microscopic perspective involves aspects such as text size, font, paragraph placement and length, and white space.  While mesoscopic and macroscopic perspectives consider broader matters such as, multiple document delivery over various lengths of time. (p. 111)

 

Mapping or blog arrangement are also very important to audience appeal.  An overly cluttered blog without a clear content menu leads to audience uncertainty or distrust.  Organization is a strategy that can build blog appeal and reputation.  The content itself should be clean and well arranged.  However, a blogger should also consider ads or the minimization of, also in the mapping schema.  No one likes to try to read a blog with ads blinking all around the content.

Simple web flowchart or sitemap with space for your content or copy.

Photo Source: Getty Images

Ambience is a critical factor in all works of art and design, including digital communication.  Ambient design allows the audience to to understand the purpose and content of a blog.  The design should be created in a way that this perspective can be gained by only a quick glance.  This allows ease of use and guides the audience through the blog interaction. (p. 120-121)  Furthermore, this overall design strategy establishes trust and audience comfort, which are crucial in a popular blog.  Images are important in creating the intended ambience.  To choose the correct supporting images, it is important to have a well defined blog purpose and to understand your desired audience well. Aesthetics are also very important to creating an appealing blog site.

IMG_0042

This is a photograph of mine, with some filter experimentation.  It creates a unique feel that could be appealing in certain blogs involving photography, art, or even cats.

 

Folksonomy is also known as social tagging, social indexing, tagging, etc.  It is a method by which content can be created and managed, via tags, to categorize the content.  (p. 118) This method of tagging and categorizing content is done all over social media, the Web, and in blogging.  As we write our blogs, we choose the categories/tags we want connected to our content so that it appears in relevant user searches.  Aside from administrative blog tools, we can also accomplish this via hashtags which are trackable throughout social media (if our blogs are shared to those platforms) and the Web.

 

As technical and digital communication advances, we also make changes to improve the functionality and appeal of our blogs.  While blogs are still very relevant, vlogs are quickly gaining attention.  With that in mind, it will be interesting to see  how the technical communicator roles develop should consumption of media become more video based.  The technical writing practices could shift into video production.  One could argue that they already have…

gettyimages-912895022-170667a

Photo Source: Getty Images

Posted on November 4, 2018, in Blogs, Creative, Digital, Literacy, Metablogging, Social Media, Society, Technology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I love this application! I will say that this group of 745 students have taken to blogging much quicker than students in previous semesters in terms of being comfortable with visuals and hyperlinks, key things that keep me reading certain blogs.

    I wonder if the same concepts from these Spilka chapters could be applied to the creation, organization, editing, and distribution of podcasts. I’ve only been loyally listening to a few since 2015, but the genre is fascinating to me since online communities evolve as a result of them, at least the more pop culture-y ones!

    • I have not really listened to podcasts much. I need to explore that more. I bet there are so many interesting topics to hear about!

      I have had a lot of fun learning to blog in this course! I always wanted to start a blog but was scared off for a number of reasons. This course has made me start brainstorming the idea again.

  2. Great post. I have been thinking a lot about my own role as a technical communicator and creating video content. Every time we hire someone new on the marketing team, they ask me, “Why don’t you create more video content?” While I have design skills, I do not have video production skills. It’s a skillset I want to learn more about, but I’m also not entirely sure on how to get started. When I was interviewing for jobs a year ago, I had one recruiter who was only interested in technical writers who could create video content. Pretty interesting because I don’t think that would ever be expected of writers long ago.

    • For another course, we have to do all our discussion posts via YouTube videos. Like this course with blogs, it has given me the confidence to start looking into my own vlogs.

      You can start simple in YouTube and keep them private or unpublished until you feel like they’re right. It could be a fun exercise for you and give you the comfort of creating your own content.

  3. First, your cats are adorable, and I had to download the Artisto photo/video filter to test it out on all my cat pictures. I like the questions that you lead with in this post. I don’t often stop to think about those things; I just stay on or click off, but what we’re learning is that it all goes back to purpose and audience. Is the blog for entertainment, information, or persuasion, or a combination of those? What age, income, gender, and/or education do the audience members have? What’s their baseline knowledge of the topic you cover? In the land of the internet, we can assume that some readers stumble upon material as a result of a tag or hyperlink. Do those novice users stay? Do we want them to?

    I agree that vlogs and more image-based applications seem to be taking over. Do technical communicators become more like video production artists? I’ve found the need to learn more video editing as an online instructor, and I’m going to have to step up my game to keep younger and younger audiences engaged.

    I also like Dr. Pignetti’s question about podcasts. I don’t know who the primary audience is (age-wise) for podcasts, but I love them and I’m fine with the images. Are younger audiences though? Will podcasts eventually have digital app with pop-ups associated with them?

    • Building off Amery’s comments. I think we can see some of these questions being targeted in the “instagram blogger/instagram influencer” space. These influencers are promoting products that companies incentive them to promote to their followers because these marketers are considering what the age, income, gender, education, etc the followers have. For example, think of previous Bachelor contestants. Many of them, after leaving the show, turn into Instagram influencers promoting diet/health/beauty products on their pages because of their strong following. And many of these people are promoting the same products because they have the same audience following them (i.e. people who watch the Bachelor, who likely have a lot of similarities in age/income/education/gender).

      • Very true about how the Influencers are sort of categorized even based upon show followers. I hadn’t realized that. Good point! And effective marketing!

    • Thank you Amery! They are little tyrants but I LOVE them! I’m addicted to Artisto. I’ve been taking a lot of nature pictures and applying these filters. It’s fun! I’ve actually printed some in 8x8s to put in our home.

      Some of the reading I’ve done really seems to indicate the change over to vlogs. I can see the appeal to younger audiences. Technology changes so fast, I’m sure we’ll see what happens soon.

  4. Hi JJ,

    I think your blog was very nicely done this week and really spoke to the characteristics you listed in “what makes a good blog” and “what makes you want to continue to read the blog.” You mention right away in the opening paragraphs that you particularly enjoy reading content that is concise and to the point and not overly wordy. I thought this blog post did exactly that. You were to the point, concise and kept each paragraph moving forward, so great job!

    As you begin to point out granularity you do a great job of illustrating the message of the content and the images used should identify with the audience you are speaking to. Further, this is an important distinction, especially for technical writings in a blog setting. I’ve read many articles on blogs, how to start a blog, and why some blogs receive more views than others, and one of the driving forces mentioned in each of these readings was audience. At each point, the author often referred to honing in on who your audience is and being able to meet their needs.

    I also thoroughly enjoyed your notes about social tagging and folksonomy. It’s a much larger part of being able to find and locate content on the web. In this article: https://thesocialshop.co.uk/the-importance-of-social-bookmarking/ the author highlights the importance of tagging and categorizing and why it is useful for bloggers to implement in order to gain more traffic to their blog post.

    Great post this week!

    Kim

  5. I think one of the best things about blogs is the fact that you can easily tailor them to your audience. You can use graphics, links, more or less text, etc. Not all modes of communication are designed to allow for so much communicative diversity, and one can write their blog to appeal to a variety of audiences. One unique thing about a blog is that writers can publish their work even if nobody reads it. It is easy to do and it a great practice ground for those who want to write. But, that isn’t to say that all blogs are for “practice writers.” They are for the least experienced and qualified to the best writer. I really appreciate the tremendous versatility blogging offers writers.

  6. Hi JJ,

    Great job again this week! I really enjoyed reading your blog post.

    I’ve always viewed blogs in general as relatively basic and user-friendly. However, throughout this course, I’ve learned about the various layers of all blogs, even those that seem one-dimensional on the surface. Accordingly, your post speaks nicely to the multidimensional nature of blogs, which I can appreciate.

    I especially liked how you shed light on ambience (no pun intended) within digital communication. I believe this aspect is often either overlooked or overemphasized, thus creating an awkward imbalance of visual and written content.

    Awesome post!

    ~Jeff

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.