26 April 2012

Mil-blogging Tips and Tactics, Part II

This is second part of a two-part series on suggested Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (T.T.P.) for writers of military-themed blogs. For Part I, click here.

Make blogging a habit. Put yourself and your readers on a schedule, and stick to it. Keep writing. Even when you don't feel particularly inspired. Bonus tip: Before you publish a blog publicly, write it privately for at least 30 days. That gives you time to get into a rhythm, find a voice, and experiment with different visual designs and add-ons/widgets.

Some people even decide to keep their blogs accessible only to friends and family. A mil-blog doesn't have to be public.

Before every trigger-pull ... breathe. Use an off-line editor such as MarsEdit. Set your blog-posts to publish at a specific time, hours or days after they're written. That gives you some time to discover typos, or to think of better ways to say what you mean. Sherpatude No. 18 ("Your trigger finger is your safety ...") applies to the "send"/"publish" key as well.

Put social media in its place. Establish a Facebook page for your blog. Connect your blog to Facebook via an application such as Networked Blogs. The application will automatically re-post blog entries to Facebook. Given evolving readership trends, you may find you have more readers and comments on Facebook than you do on the blog itself. "Write once, publish many."

That said, remember that social media only feels like work. It's not actually producing anything. The blog's the thing, not making snarky comments or posting funny pictures. Set a timer for yourself, then get back to the blog.

Don't pay for your blog-hosting service. I use Google's Blogger, also known as Blogspot. Other friends use Word Press. Both are free.

Do pay for your own domain/URL. Some governmental computer networks automatically block web-addresses that include words such as "blogspot" and "wordpress." You can't blog to the military masses if your site is blocked on governmental computers. You can buy a domain for something like $5 to $25 annually.

Give someone else the keys, just in case. If you're going downrange, the unthinkable can and does happen. Plan for injuries and outages. Give someone back home log-in/password access to your blog, in case it needs to be shut down, permanently or temporarily. Besides, given the way the Internet interconnects via some parts of the world, you might also have to use this person to unlock your accounts. The blog-service police tend to regard multiple log-ins from Afghanistan, Germany, and India on any given day as an attack, rather than as a poor blogger downrange attempting to administer his/her blog comments.

Recognize that experiences vary. Just because the Army is one way for you, doesn't mean that it's that way for everyone in the Army. Times change, procedures evolve, situations are fluid. Every experience, including your own, is "Army of One, sample of one." Anecdotes do not equal analysis. Feelings aren't facts. See also Sherpatude No. 3: "Never speak with complete authority regarding that which you lack direct knowledge, observation, and/or suppressive fires."

Words matter, but pictures help. A photo or other illustration will increase the number of readers to a given post. Beware of copyright infringements, however. Always use your own photography, or images that are shared via a collective commons license.

Register your blog. Register and claim your blog at Milblogging.com. It's a good way for new readers to find and follow you, as well as to find and follow other bloggers.

Keep it short. For optimal readability, most blog-posts should be no more than approximately 500 words in length. If you've gone on too long on a given post, consider breaking it into parts.

Finally, don't worry about summation. When a given post feels finished, end it.

2 comments:

  1. Great tips for bloggers of all genres. Thanks!

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  2. DEBRA! Thanks for the note--now I'm going to have to read back and consider how else I might apply my own advice.

    Thanks again!

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