I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Oh, you’re a blogger.” or watched someone painfully attempt to avoid rolling their eyes when I talk about my job. Blogging still gets a bad rap, and perhaps rightfully so, unfortunately. For every well-written and thoughtful blog post out there, you can find dozens that are little more than reblogs of reblogs of reblogs of press releases. There’s something to be said for giving your readers the news of the day, but this process easily becomes a game of Telephone, with facts getting mixed up along the way.
We do, however, have the power to change this and be taken more seriously as bloggers simply by thinking different about the news pieces we write. At BlogWorld New York 2012, Dave Copeland presented Reporting for Bloggers, and today, I wanted to share his 3-2-1 Formula that will make every post your write more credible.
Most bloggers realize that citing sources is important for an ethical standpoint, but in this formula, sources become even more important. Not all sources are created equally. If you’re reporting on something that happens, you need to verify that you’re using an original source. Even better, pick up the phone or shoot off an email to someone who can answer your questions directly. Dave showed several examples where he “busted” a story or presented an entirely new spin simply by talking to people. When you get too far from original sources, not only is your information more likely to be incorrect, but you’re only repeating information that can be found elsewhere online. So, when blogging about a news story, take the time to include at least three sources – interviews, quotes, original sources, etc.
Many bloggers are already pretty good about include a few links with each post, but it’s important to choose your links wisely. If you’re going send people away from your site (or away from your page, even if you’re linking to your own site), make sure to verify the links. hey should be packed with more information about the topic so you’re really helping the reader. And if you’re not including links at all? Shame on you. Linking is what makes the Internet such an awesome source for news. (Zemanta is a great plugin that can help you save time with linking if you’re short on time, so check it out.)
Lastly, use at least one image with your posts. Go beyond stock photography if you can and find a fair-use picture that really fits your post well. You might not have the budget for images that a magazine or newspaper has, but sites like Wikipedia and Flickr have Creative Commons that are often filled with great images to help your reader better understand the topic at hand.
If you want to catch the rest of Dave’s awesome session at BlogWorld New York 2012, check out our virtual ticket, which gives you access to this and other presentations you missed at the show. (If you were at BWENY and want to upgrade your ticket to include the virtual ticket, simply email email@example.com.)