The art of blogging: Taking stock

The topic of ‘Blogging’ is a phoenix in the blogosphere. Blogging about blogging keeps emerging and emerging and reemerging. No later than this week again, only in my personal learning network I spotted Euan Semple’s piece about ‘How writing a blog can make you a better manager‘, while Ian Thorpe was reflecting about the value of keeping a journal, like a blog [and even more recently shared these 10 tips for bloggers]. Perhaps it’s the welcome mental break of summer holidays that makes bloggers reflect about one of our favourite reflexive activities: BLOGGING.

How blogging matters for different people (Credits - IsaakWok/FlickR)
How blogging matters for different people (Credits – IsaakWok/FlickR)

And so, after over five years of blogging and over 182 published posts, I thought it might be a good time also for myself to look back at the art of blogging. Not so much what I make of it, because despite past experience I have a lot to learn about blogging still and I already blogged about my blogging here and there.

No, this is a post sharing ideas and experiences from thought leaders who have seen the benefits of blogging, have enjoyed and analysed it well enough to share some gems. So hereby comes another stock-taking post which may help wannabe bloggers (Hermella, do you read me?) as well as well as more seasoned bloggers always looking for inspiration…

Why blog?

Five minutes with Patrick Dunleavy and Chris Gilson: “Blogging is quite simply, one of the most important things that an academic should be doing right now” (Feb. 2012). A welcome wake-up call for academics about the power of blogging and why it has become unavoidable to spread research uptake. This is a short but high octane interview with a few additional tips. This one is a bit of a dedicated resource for my academic colleagues…

Seth Godin and Tom Peters on blogging – A must watch! (April 2009)

Another short video where life2.0 guru Seth Godin and fellow interviewee Tom Peters share their point of view as to why Blogging matters and how it has affected them deeply. Great inspiration to get started, from one of the very few bloggers (Godin) who blogs successfully every day.

Simple tips and tricks

  • Blog post checklist for great authors (Aug. 2013): The latest resource I came across, filled with excellent guerilla tips to outsmart typical blog (and other bloggers’) traps and ensure blogging leads to action (yours and others’). Perhaps the best series of tips and tricks in this selection.
  • 12 blogging mistakes (Aug. 2013): what not to do with your blog to avoid making it useless. Great no nonsense tips that move away from the ego-logy a bit. I particularly like the advice to do away with ‘Blah’ posts and to come up with more ‘wow’ content. I hope I’m applying this lesson better now.
  • 23 essential elements of sharable blog posts (June 2009). Very short list of very good tips to prepare useful and usable blog posts. This one is so short and so relevant that despite its age it was difficult to avoid.
  • The absolutely foolproof blog post checklist (Feb. 2013). A great series of technical tips to make sure that the content on your blog is fool proof. I found this resource via Jurgen Appelo’s resource listed above and its peculiar focus on technical blogging makes it stand out as a great resource.
  • Tips for conference bloggers (Jan. 2008): Live blogging is tricky. Here’s a series of useful tips to make it work. Probably worth a revamp but the core of the tips is still very much valid. This has been compiled with experts in the field of social media such as Beth Kanter and is essentially a short guide available in PDF format.
  • Blogtips (ongoing blog): Peter Casier is an experienced social media enthusiast who’s set up this blog full of advices about blogging and more. He may not update this blog every month but he has been updating it over time and this place remains a good place for blogging tips, particularly for those of you working in global development. Peter leads major social media campaigns for agricultural research consortium CGIAR in major global events.
  • Three things you should know about blogging (July 2013). Steve Wheeler explains three important pillars of blogging to help you make the most of it.

Personal experiences

Many bloggers have related their experience with blogging. Hereby a selection of my favourite posts from these bloggers reflecting upon blogging:

  • Ian Thorpe (KM on a dollar a day) with ‘Personal professional blogging – what I’ve learned‘ (Feb. 2013). Ian Thorpe is a blogger I follow avidly and respect enormously for the clarity and potency of his ideas. In this post he provides a good overview of the type of blogs (and bloggers), various tips, types of posts that can be used and a list of other bloggers to look up to. A great complement to this stock-taking post.
  • Mike Shanahan (Under the Banyan) and ‘Why blog? Ten things I learned about blogging this year‘ – Dec. 2012). Mike is giving really fresh advice, not (just) the typical advice you find about blogging. Like his ideas of repeat visits to past posts and the fact that speed matters – seize opportunities. This proved true for me with a recent summary of a KM4Dev discussion on lessons learnt while the discussion was just about petering out.
  • Irving Wladawsky-Berger ‘Blogging and personal feelings‘ (March 2012). A very blog-like account of how blogging has become a really important part of life of Irving and how it resonates in his work.
  • Harold Jarche (Life in perpetual beta). Another one of my favourite bloggers. In his piece on ‘Net Work skills‘ (March 2012), Harold talks about blogging and other skills but refers to blogging as a central engine for conversations (themselves a central piece in the networked world) and mechanism to speed up serendipity. A great testimony of how blogging can make a difference.
  • Marc F. Bellemare (Agriculture, development and food policy) and his post on ‘What I’ve learned from a year of blogging: advice for would-be bloggers‘ (Jan. 2012) I selected this post because it is particularly useful for new bloggers or wannabe bloggers. Marc reflects back on one year of blogging and offers simple but useful tips to get started.
  • Steve Wheeler (Learning with ‘e’s). Steve Wheeler is a wonderful learning and education blogger and he explains in ‘Life thru a lens’ (Aug. 2013) his experience with vlogging – or video blogging – as a great complement to his ongoing blogging practice.
Blogging is writing's extreme sport (Credits - WillLion/FlickR)
Blogging is writing’s extreme sport (Credits – WillLion/FlickR)

And I decided to add -ex-post- this other post (by Chris Lysy) which summarises blogging challenges and advices of 22 different bloggers (including yours truly):

Who blogs (how)?

Blogs are topic-specific generally, at least the better blogs I’ve come across. So there’s no selection that would satisfy everyone of you, but here is a list of bloggers that I find really interesting to read, from their blogging technique or the way they use their blog:

  • Duncan Green (From poverty to Power). A very prolific blogger, Oxfam’s Duncan Green is a real thought leader in his field, sharply networked and with real passion and objective detachment at the same time. His blog is one of the best examples, in global development) of what can be achieved with a blog once the author behind is smart and well connected. A must-visit for influence blogging.
  • In the KM world, Nick Milton from Knoco Stories has been blogging on a daily basis with unrelentlessly good advice. His way of blogging is interesting because it is a real challenge to keep up with such daily discipline. I like the references he makes to other posts from his long blogging experience.
  • And finally Susan MacMillan, an ILRI colleague who has been blogging prolifically, with rather long posts though very detailed, full of passion and quotes and facts and questions. It is a peculiar style; some people don’t like it, some love it. I find it really an inspiring ‘other’ way of blogging than most blogs I follow. See some posts of hers on e.g. ILRI Clippings and ILRI news.

There could be many many more, as you understand…

A (totally non comprehensive) summary of tips and tricks contained in these resources:

    • (You) Be yourself, be bold, be unique, continually reflect about your blog and your blogging practice, accept it takes time to get good at it and to reap real benefits from it;
Some blogging (moo card) pointers (Credits - MexicanWave/FlickR)
Some blogging (moo card) pointers (Credits – MexicanWave/FlickR)
  • (Your blog) Find your focus and goal, have a go, let it flow, embellish your blog with pictures (or videos, presentations and other creative bits), make it scannable and ‘blog-friendly’, chase typos and errors away, improve your blog and change stuff about it every so often – in line with your learning;
  • (Your audience) Engage with them, work with them, comment on their blogs and respond to their comments quickly, share your posts actively on other social networks, link to other blogs and content (from you and others), use your blog as basis for much wider engagement.

Now – what are your favourite blog posts about blogging, the why, what, how and all the rest of it? What have I missed out here? And what might you do about blogging yourself?

Related blog posts:

Find the resources mentioned in this post and other resources about blogging in my bookmarks about Blogging.

Published by Ewen Le Borgne

Collaboration and change process optimist motivated by ‘Fun, focus and feedback’. Nearly 20 years of experience in group facilitation and collaboration, learning and Knowledge Management, communication, innovation and change in development cooperation. Be the change you want to see, help others be their own version of the same.

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  1. Hey Nadia,
    Great post! If you don’t mind I would like to share few of my favorite blogging related sites as well. – by Darren Rowse – by Mike Wallagher

    All those sites above have helped me in one way or another to start a blog. If you find them useful, feel free to add them to your article.


  2. Dear Nadia,

    I agree, learning benefits from reading others’ thoughts, talking with them, engaging with them, reflecting upon this. One would be truncated without the other. Though much as ‘Show me and I will understand’ is true, blogging – or any other form of putting thoughts down in writing for an audience – has the merit of adding structure to sense-making, in a heightened way. At least that’s what I find for myself and why I relish it so much, together with the interaction that follows thereafter.
    Thank you for your reply and thoughts 🙂

  3. Dear Ewen, many thanks for sharing your rich and inspiring stock taking. This is real useful and motivating. And yes, I agree fully: Blogging is a reflexive activity as well as blog reading is. Probably it’s the combination of reading and writing and vice versa that makes it a real learning practice. Best, Nadia

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