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Guide to Blogging

Blogs are becoming a hugely popular way of developing a community interested in your journal and its field. Blog posts are typically informal, and can reflect your personality more than other media.

How to start a blog

Here's how to create an engaging blog, and how it differs from academic or scientific writing.

  • Keep the tone conversational
  • Blogs tend to be more personal, so write how you speak. You can use "I" and "you," and slang if it suits your style. Readers tend to respond to this casual approach.

  • Keep posts short
  • 1,000 words is a good goal. 2,000 words is considered long, but shorter pieces (of about 300 words) are common. Paragraphs are shorter, too.

  • Highlight important points
  • Use bulleted lists and put key points in bold. Make your important content stand out to anyone skimming the site.

  • Link to other sites
  • Like a citation, blogs link to other online works. For example, you may link to and reference journals (your own or another) or a link to posts on other blogs.

How to keep your blog going

One of the most difficult aspects of blogging is keeping it going. You've probably seen blogs that slowly cease publishing. These tips will help you stop your blog running out of steam:

  • Brainstorm a lot of ideas
  • Before you publish your first blog post, note down a hundred topics you could write about. This may seem like overkill before the first blog is even up. But that list will be a godsend when you're stuck for a post. Also consider who in your network would be interested in a guest blog post.

  • Create a schedule of posts
  • Start with a low posting rate of once a week or once every two weeks, and block out some time in your schedule to do it. If you are eventually able to post more, it will be a nice surprise for your readers as opposed to the disappointment of seeing infrequent posts.

  • Make it user-friendly
  • Make it easy for your users to remember your URL and move through the site. Your blog's design should have personality, but it should be navigable.

  • Take advantage of other blogs
  • Comment on other blogs. Being an active member of the blogging community will help relevant readers find you. People will see your comments and visit your blog. And link to other blogs. This could help increase your site traffic as people visit you or link back to return the favor.

How to choose a blog platform

Where you choose to host your blog is at your discretion. Be aware, though, that free blog sites often put advertisements on your blog that you cannot control or veto. Also, some free blogs charge service fees to make changes like updating your design or domain name.