Often new bloggers start out by writing about what they have to say or share, so blogs can seem egocentric - "it's all about me" . This is not a bad thing, in fact, it's often the heart and soul of blogging. But you can take your blog to the next level by stepping outside of yourself and thinking like one of your readers - what do they want? what do they need? how could my blog help them?
You can still use yourself as the spark for your blog ideas. For example, you may have a minor car accident that gives you the idea for an analogy related to the topic of quality assurance testing. This may be a great idea! But now as you are writing the blog post, think how can I make this useful for people reading my blog? How can I make this not just interesting, but also useful and helpful?
7 ideas for adding useful elements to your blog posts:
1. Create "how tos". These could be step by step instructions, formulas or lists - this is the type of reference material many people find helpful. This may not be appropriate for every blog post you write, but including it when it makes sense can help make a must-read blog.
Example: Ad hoc testing tips
2. Add photos, screen shots, videos, or diagrams when it makes sense to help illustrate and understand the post.
3. Give readers suggestions for application. Let's say you just wrote that blog post about how quality assurance testing is like a car wreck. Now, can you close your blog post with three ideas for how QA testers can avoid that wreck during testing?
Example: Caching in
4. Add references and resources. Do more than just talk about yourself and your thoughts and your experiences. If you share useful resources related to the main topics of your blog, then your blog could become a must-read - one that your readers feel is a valuable source of information. Types of resources you can share include related blog posts (either your own posts or others') or news stories you think would be helpful or interesting and resources you like on this topic. For example, if your blog is all about QA testing, you could share favorite QA testing web sites, twitter feeds, blogs, books, etc.
Example: Trying out Twitter APIs
5. Think about effective formatting and layout. Is your post easy to follow and read?
Example: Criteria for a disciplined agile team
6. Learn from others. Visit your favorite blogs and ask yourself: What makes that blog useful to you? What makes you bookmark it and visit it repeatedly? How could you incorporate some of those elements on your own blog?
7. Spend time on your posts. Write up your draft. Put it aside and come back to it later when you can see with fresh eyes how to make it better. For instance, after I wrote this post and then came back to it, I realized it would be helpful to include examples for the ideas.
In closing, I'd like to encourage you to watch this short video by Darren Rowse at Problogger where he talks about balancing the needs of your reader and yourself: Who does your blog serve? The secret to sustainable blogging
Then ask yourself - who is your reader? Start thinking about how you can serve their needs when you're writing that next blog post.
p.s. Was this blog post useful for you? If it was, would you recommend it or comment on it? I'd like to know if I'm serving your needs! Thanks.
Matching: blog X
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  blogs social_networking blog mydw_tip_of_the_week mydw 6 Comments 6,104 Views
One of the terrific things about My developerWorks is that you can create a group and then use different features like blogs, wikis, files, etc. to share and build that group. Group blogging has unique advantages that you should know about and consider.
Why group blogging rocks!
To build a solid group blog you need to establish topic(s) for your blog - most obviously, it should probably be defined by your group. You also need to identify one or two leaders to recruit new writers for the blog, lay down ground rules, and coordinate schedules.
Have a goal for your blog
Think about what you want your blog to do, for example, do you want it to...
Think about how often you want to publish
How often do you want to publish? Once a week? Twice a week? Three times a week? It's up to you. Just set a goal you think is achievable and aim for consistency. Then work with your group of writers to decide who's going to fill those slots.
Recruit writers for the blog
Find teammates, friends, group members, people in your network who are interested in the topics for your blog. Reach out to them and ask them if they'd like to participate by writing on the blog. Be specific, and let them know what they'd need to do. For example, you might ask if they would write on your blog once a month. This would allow them to decide whether they'd like to make that time commitment or not. Be sure all your writers have a good profile on My developerWorks.
Create a schedule
Let's say that you want to publish on your group blog twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Assign or request your group of writers to specific days. Share the schedule with them. Then send them reminder emails so they don't forget!
Suggest blog topics
Sometimes the hardest part of blogging is coming up with something to write about. Provide a suggested list of topics- could be vague or specific - to help them think of something to write on the group blog. Most of us just need a little inspiration and then come up with a unique topic. Here's an example for a Java group:
Favorite Java web sites
Top five Java articles on developerWorks
The future of Java
Java in the news (current events)
Java spotlight - interview
New Java related tools or technologies
Resources for learning Java
Java conference recaps
Notify your group that you're starting a blog
Use the "message your group" function on My developerWorks to let them know that you've started a blog in your group and link to it. Invite them to follow along and comment. And tell them that if they are interested in writing for the group blog, to contact you.
So what do you think? Is group blogging something you're thinking about doing?
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  mydw_tip_of_the_week mydw my_developerworks blog social_networking 6 Comments 7,955 Views
If you already have a blog on My developerWorks, here's 5 ways to improve it. Or learn more about how YOU can blog on My developerWorks - the world's geekiest social network.
1. Take your My developerWorks profile up a notch
WHO are you? I'm more interested in your blog if I know where you're coming from. What company do you work for? What's your job role? Your interests? Your passions? Your experience? And if you don't have a profile photo of yourself - add one - it helps people connect with you as a person.
Get some fresh inspiration:
Building your online professional persona
10 Tips for a good social networking picture
2. Pick up new ideas for blog posts
Maybe you don't write as often as you'd like because you're not sure what to write about, get some ideas from other people!
Get some fresh inspiration:
50 blog post ideas for business blogging
111 instant blog post ideas
Video: How to use Google's Wonder Wheel to find topics to write about
3. Customize your blog
Add a bio and profile pic to the top of your blog - this can be huge! If you tweet, add a Twitter widget. You can also add YouTube widgets, Flickr widgets, and more. Learn all about customizing your blog by visiting Files in the My developerWorks bloggers group.
4. Read your comments and respond
Comments provide you a way to connect with the people who actually read your blog. You may not realize you can set up your blog so you get email notification whenever someone comments on your blog. Do it! Go to your blog settings, look under "Comments" and select "Email comments", then Save.
You don't have to reply back to every comment, but there are other ways to show your readers that you appreciate it. For example, you could write on their wall and say "Thanks for reading my blog! I appreciate the comment." Or you could invite them to your network and thank them for commenting on your blog.
5. Polish your blog posts before you publish
Spend a little time on your blog post before you hit publish. Write your first draft - but before you hit publish, look at it to see if you can make it better. Can you give it a compelling title? Read through it with fresh eyes and see if you can make it better. Also, think about adding links to related resources that could be helpful (like a related forum, group, article, etc.).
Get some fresh inspiration:
How to craft post titles that draw your readers into your blog
How to write a good blog post: an introduction
Top ten tips for writing a great blog post
If you're interested in meeting fellow My developerWorks enthusiasts, keeping up with the latest My developerWorks news, and sharing tips and best practices for using My developerWorks and social networking, come join us in the My developerWorks enthusiasts group.
bobleah 270000CN12 Tags:  blog following follower mydeveloperworks mydw_tip_of_the_week mydw 5,572 Views
Ever get that feeling your being followed? If you are a blogger here at developerWorks... it may be more than just a feeling!
With our recent upgrade to Lotus Connections 2.5, we introduced a very powerful time saver feature called watchlists. You can create watchlists on people, bookmarks, tags, and yes.... bloggers! Watching your favorite bloggers here on developerWorks is just a mouse click away!
From any blog entry: simply click the Follow this blog link located on the right side of the blog page...
When you are following a blog, your profile image will appear as a thumbnail, along with the other dW members who are following this blogger. Clicking on a followers thumbnail image will display that followers My dW profile. This is a great way to find and network with other dW members, since you already have the blogger and his blog topic in common!
The bloggers that you follow now show up in your watchlist... it really is that simple!
Are you interested in becoming a blogger here at developerWorks? It's simple and free... click here to learn more!