How to Write Effective Blog Posts

What makes a good blog post? In short, good writing, solid prose, a clever title, and an insight that helps us us learn something new. The following will help you master this new, emerging form of communication.

Q: How is a blog post different from an essay?

A: Blog posts are generally shorter—anywhere from 250 to 1,000 words, or 1-4 double-spaced pages. For Kennedy Live and Global Diplomacy short, even several line posts are great–assuming you found a killer quote or a really interesting article. Posts are written for a specific audience, in this case, students of diplomacy or international affairs. Though the tone of blog posts tends to be informal, this does not mean that they should be poorly written. You should use the spellcheck (you know, the icon with the check mark and “abc”) and proofread, because spellcheck won’t catch errors in usage, like the difference between “to” and “too” or “there” and “their” and “they’re.”

Q: How can I create good titles for my posts?

A: A good title both summarizes the gist of your commentary and is eye-catching. Simply titling a post “My post” is lazy and no one will want to read it. For example, if this was a post, I might title it: “Don’t know much about blogging?” Or if you aren’t feeling very original you can quote the article source directly with article title and the source, like this: [actual article title here] –

, or,”The End of Money” –

Q: What are “categories”?

A: Use categories as general buckets or file drawers to classify posts. If you are part of the Global Diplomacy Study Abroad course (IAS 201) always include “study abroad” or if your post is related to the Kennedy Lectures (IAS 301) or reading of current events then mark those categories. Try to only select one or two categories, if possible, as a general rule.

Q: What are “tags”?

A: Tags are a way to organize your posts into groupings so that readers can more easily find the kind of content they’re interested in. Please use the existing blog tags unless you truly are breaking new ground–rare, but less likely. The tag cloud will show you what terms have been commonly used.

Q: What about those cool hyperlinks things?

A: The medium of the Web allows you to do many things, but perhaps the most important is being able to link us to many other places on the Web from one page. (Select the link icon and copy/paste in the link. All the reader sees is the highlighted/underlined word that is a link).

Hyperlinks are especially useful if you are writing about complex issues, because you can create links to sites that provide definition and context that the reader might lack. In this way, hyperlinks provide readers with the opportunity to engage with an issue in increasing depth. Each post should include at least one hyperlinks, and please format it so we don’t have to see the details.

Q: The blogs I admire always have photos, music and video that I can click on and watch or listen to. How do I do that?

A: What you’re describing is a process called embedding, and it is very easy to do if you have either the url address of a photo (the “http://www.” stuff in the browser window) or the html code for a music file, image, or video. Media can add a lot of interest–but be careful of generic “placeholder” images and copyrighted stuff. Attribute the source at a minimum, if you are unsure.

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