Recently, I was happily surprised to realize that any content we produce has a story angle that is either money (economics – how much now how much later, to whom by whom), politics (rules, responsibilities) people (personal passion community services) or Environment. Whatever content we produce wherever, it’s always from these angles!
In research for development projects such as the Livestock and Irrigation Value Chains for Ethiopian Smallholders (LIVES) project, we produce huge amounts of content, including case studies, opinion pieces, reports of all sorts (monthly, event, trip, annual) briefs, flyers, press releases, emails, podcasts, photos/videos, blogs, the list goes on.
Blogs are proving to be one of the best mechanisms to bring our content to a wider audience, especially in the research and development environment where detailed research outputs of many pages are written and hardly read.
Our observations and reflections from the field or an event, or a book can vividly describe scenarios and potential for those who did not get the chance to participate. It creates awareness and knowledge to a greater audience in a short time, affordably.
As we are producing numerous blog posts in LIVES inspired by our ongoing field activities and the great motivation of our project staff to document them, I thought it might be an opportunity to share a few blogging tips and traps I learned at a recent training workshop.
- Encourage personal opinions and reflections rather than promotional stories.
- Make story titles short, simple and catchy!
- Less is more. Make your story shorter. 500-800 words is recommended for a blog post.
- Use ‘everyday’ English. This way you keep your reader interested and help them digest it.
- Include images (pictures, videos and podcasts – they make a post lively and increase interest levels.
- Match your content to your audiences.
- Avoid jargon and too many scientific terms.
- Have some ‘theme months’ to help boost readership and interaction through comments.
- Promote your stories through other social media such as LinkedIn, twitter and across the web and promote rss feeds and news alerts so people can subscribe and follow your updates.
Here are some interesting articles on producing content for blogs:
- How to write a great blog post by WLE
- Why blog? Ten things I learned about blogging this year by Mike Shanahan
- How can I add personality to my organizations’ blog post? by CGIAR ICT-KM
- Writing Good Blog Posts: The Art of Seduction by Peter Casier
- ILRI’s maarifa blog has updates on ways we communicate our research
This blog post was inspired by the communication workshop event I attended in May 2014. It was organized by the International Food Policy Research (IFPRI) and Farming First for people engaged in communication works of development focused programs and projects in Ethiopia and abroad. It covered topics on planning communication, pitching media and producing content.