Ask Me Anything, Edition 1

I’ve found lately that I wind up with questions and ideas that I want to discuss a little more in-depth than I might on Twitter, but aren’t probably enough for a full-blown blog post. I want to try out lumping them all into one blog post for the end of the week, which means that the blog carnival is going on indefinite hiatus.

This also means that if you’ve got a question, I’d love to hear it! You can comment on this post, email it to me, DM me on Twitter — I’ll take it in just about any form except carrier pigeon. If you’d like me to post the question anonymously, just let me know.

I heard several very interesting questions at the AIW panel I took part in last week, including the following:

How can you write blog posts so quickly compared to print articles and still claim that your posts are high quality, with correct information and clear writing?

This is a particularly interesting question to me in part because of the other answers I’ve heard. More than a few bloggers choose to write about topics they know very well because it reduces research time — which is a big factor in how long it will take to write a piece. But on the various sites I’ve been hired to write for, I’ve written about topics I don’t know very well at all, and still managed to keep my research time to a minimum. That is because of the great research tools around today. Help A Reporter Out is a great example: even five years ago, it would have taken me days to track down just a handful of sources that might have something to do with the topic I’m writing about. Today, I can get sixty emails from relevant sources based on a request that took me five minutes to write.

Yes, it’s still crucial to vet those potential sources and you shouldn’t automatically take their information at face value. But even adding in time to check up on sources, I still spend a fraction of the amount of time on research that I used to.

For a couple of other takes on last week’s panel, check out my co-panelists’ write-ups: both Beth J. Bates and Mayra Ruiz have posted on their own blogs.

One article popped up on my radar this week that particularly caught my attention was Article Submissions – Should You Offer Them as a Service? from Web Writing Info. I’ve never offered article submission services personally, although I do know that several of my clients routinely submit articles I’ve written for them to a variety of article submission sites for marketing purposes.

If I was to offer submission services myself, one alternative to spending much time on it would be to outsource that part of the work. It’s a very repetitive task: I could easily find someone who’s willing to take on the project at a price just below what I might ask from clients, freeing me up to go back to writing.

How do you define a professional blog, considering just about anyone can start a blog?

When it comes to blogs, I think there are two separate standards for what constitutes a professional blog.

  1. Quality: If you want to be taken seriously as a writer — no matter where your writing appears — it absolutely has to correctly written, including punctuation, capitalization and correct spelling. Considering even browsers have built in spell check these days, I think it’s very hard to make a case that a writer needn’t bother.
  2. Content: To be entirely honest, I don’t want to hear about most people’s day-to-day routines. Sure, there are some bloggers who I truly enjoy reading about how they interact with their kids or even what their pets did today (ThePioneerWoman.com and Dooce.com come to mind) but it is very difficult to keep that sort of thing interesting for very long. For most blogs to seem professional, I expect some content that goes beyond family life and delves into another topic.

I don’t necessarily consider whether a blog actually relates to your current profession or whether you’re making money off your blog to be so much of an issue. There are so many great blogs that would be considered ‘unprofessional’ under those criteria that I think it’s practical to be a little looser.

For a writer building a professional blog as a marketing tool, I think it’s even more important for your writing to be high quality. I don’t think that your blog must be about writing — in fact, I think it’s worth focusing on the niche you’d like to write about — but your blog should show a prospective client or editor that you know how to write well.

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: thursdayb (Thursday Bram)

  2. deborah   •  

    Hi Thursday,

    I posted my notes from our AIW panel at http://www.clickwisdom.com.

    In regards to the question, do you recommend any software that will allow me to post to more than one blog? I am looking for software that reduces the number of times I have to log in to every blog for which I wrote. I used to use Qumana for this purpose.

    What do you recommend these days?

    All the best,
    Deborah

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