Tips from the Editor: Blogging 101

Tips from the Editor: Blogging 101

By: npope
  5589 reads

Not sure how to write a blog post or where to get started? Natalie, an Editor for the SFU OLC, shares a step by step guide to write a blog post and she shares some top student examples.

Writing a blog post can be daunting to someone who has never written a blog post before. When writing a blog post the number one thing you need to remember is: “Is this clearly getting my message across?”

That's the goal!  In theory this might seem like a simple goal, but in practice it is easier said than done.  Sometimes it’s easy to get sidetracked by examples or stories that do not enhance your key message.   

Here are some basic step-by-step tips to get started with your blog post and questions to ask yourself to make sure you are getting your message across with clarity and purpose. 

Step 1: Purpose

Why are you writing your blog post?  Why should other people take their valuable time to read what you have to say?  In general, the goal of the OLC blog is to share experiences and for students to learn from these experiences.  It’s an educational opportunity!  Think about why you are writing and how other students can benefit from this.  

Check out Shem’s article, “Fight the Struggle of Finding Your First Placement: Being Open to Opportunities When Seeking Your First Co-op Work Term”.  He has a clear purpose of encouraging others to be open to opportunities.  He does this in his title and throughout his entire story. 

Step 2: Audience

Fantastic- you’ve identified the purpose of your writing!  Now, remember to also consider your audience.  The main people who are reading these articles on the OLC are students.  These students might be in the same faculty as you, but they also might not be. 

For instance, when you are writing, think about the terms you use.  Are you throwing around terms specific to your field?  If so, please consider explaining them, or hyperlinking these terms to a page that explain them.  Ask yourself, “Would another SFU student in a different faculty understand what I am saying?”

Knowing your audience can also come down to the subject at hand.  Madison chose a very relatable topic that many students can appreciate in her article, “How to Land a Co-op When You've Only Flipped Burgers”.  

Step 3: Title

This is probably one of the more challenging parts of writing a post.  You want to catch the attention of readers and choosing a generic title is not going to be as effective.  Feel free to get creative, but remember to stay relevant to the message behind the article.

One of the best article titles I have ever seen on the OLC was “How do Snakes Poop? And Other Curious Questions a Science facilitator Co-op Student Could Ask You”.  At ~ 20,000 reads, you could tell I was not the only person curious about a snake’s digestive system. 

Step 4: Introduction

Think back to the fundamentals of writing a paper.  You have your introduction, the body, and the conclusion.  These elements are important in a blog post as well.  It will probably be less formal in a blog setting, but these elements are still key. 

In your introduction, give your audience an idea of where this article is going.  Are you outlining your top three tips for a successful co-op?  Tell your audience that up front, so they know what to expect.  Your introduction is a roadmap of where you are going with your post and an opportunity to give context to why this post is important. It’s also where you need to reel your reader in!

Consider spicing up your introduction with personality like Ian does in “A Summer In Silicon Valley: Preparing”.  It’s pretty clear what he intends to cover in his article when he immediately starts off with: “So you want to go to California? Congratulations”.

Step 5: Connecting the Dots

Sometimes you might have a lot of fantastic ideas you just have to share, and this is great!  The danger of having too many ideas in an article is the key message might get muddled and watered down.  Consider how your supporting examples and stories connect to the bigger picture, and how they work cohesively as a whole. 

One way to do this is to do what Kelly did in her article, “5 Career Lessons I Learned From Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone”.  She has five clear ideas that all contribute to her main message about the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone.  It’s clear and straightforward for the reader.

Step 6: Conclusion

So, what was the point of your article? Tell us again.  What would you like your reader to consider, or would you like your reader to do something? This is your opportunity to reinforce your message and to let your reader know what the take away is from the article.

Check out Megan’s article, in her conclusion she challenges us with a simple but clear call to action in “Discovering a New Campus”.

Step 7: A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Blog posts are made to be a lot more fun when there are photos involved.  It helps to illustrate your point –literally.  Moni includes some excellent pictures that capture the essence behind her post in “My Tech Journey Started After the www.”

There are plenty of layers to writing a blog post, and many factors to consider.  But I’ll let you in on a fantastic reassurance about writing for the OLC– your article will be edited prior to publishing.  So, if you are at all concerned about getting your key message across, do not worry because there will be someone else checking to make sure your blog post is clear.

Got an article you would like published on the OLC?  Email sfuolc@sfu.ca and let’s get started! 

Beyond the Article:

Posted on August 05, 2015