In journalism there is a concept known as “news sense”.
This is something you are taught about at uni and then expected to hone and develop when on the job.
In a nutshell, good news sense is behind what makes the news. It’s behind what makes a good story.
As a journalist, determining this, sifting through the facts to find the nuggets of information that make the news, that tell a story, becomes almost second nature.
Particularly talented journos can sniff out a good news story – using this sense – from just about any situation.
What’s this got to do with blogging?
Quite a bit, I think.
I’ve touched on the bloggers are journalists proposition before but this time round I’d like you, as a blogger and new media player, to consider how news sense can, and does, apply to you and your blog.
If you work on developing your blog news sense it will make a huge difference to your readership growth.
It will also help you big time in knowing how to best handle requests from brands and PRs wanting their products or clients’ products featured on your blog.
Are you with me so far?
This is a powerful consideration across all media. And mainstream media has had to get smart about it. News now “breaks” on social media networks long before a television news update, let alone the next edition of a newspaper.
As bloggers, we live and breathe social media every day and we operate on a publishing platform that allows us to get information out into the public arena as quickly as our fingers can type. This should not be under-estimated or ignored.
For example, if you’ve been granted an interview with a celebrity, don’t wait two, three or more days to get that interview up on your blog. Get it up as quickly as you can following the interview. Immediacy is power.
Even if writing a personal blog, if you’re writing about something that happened to your or your family two weeks ago, you’re going to need a “fresh angle” to keep your story relevant to readers today.
The same if you’re writing about new beauty product release. The emphasis is on the word NEW. New is news.
If you’ve been blogging for some time and have built up a community around your blog, your understanding of what content is relevant to your readers will be more clear. It will still be a work in progress and will evolve as your readership does but you have comments and readership statistics to help you keep on track with this as you develop.
If you’re starting out, think about who your target reader is. Who are you hoping to attract to your blog (and keep them coming back)? What age are they? What are their interests? Where do they live? Having answers to these questions will help you as you develop your voice and build your community.
When you consistently provide good content that is relevant to your readers, they will return.
What will interest your reader is easier to determine if your blog falls into a particular niche. They read your blog because maybe they’re nomadic travellers or obsessed foodies, so they come to you to feed their need for information and entertainment around their interests.
I find Google Analytics great for helping to sense any sub topics within my niche that readers might want to see on the blog – or see more of.
I keep an eye on what the top five search words or phrases are that people type into Google that then brings them to my blog.
It was monitoring this between seasons of the TV show Offspring that helped me to realise that writing a weekly How to dress like Nina Proudman post might not be such a bad idea. Nina is still showing up in the top 5 so you can guarantee I’ll be posting about her style again next season.
Another recent example was the launch of the home version of the L’Oreal Professionnel Steam Pod. I’d blogged back in July about the salon version of this and since that time, the Youtube clip had gone nuts (well, nuts for me) and “steam pod”, “loreal steam pod” and similar search terms have remained in the top five ever since. I was a fan of the salon service so it was a no brainer to get a post up about the home version as quickly as I could. Unfortunately a little too quick as my video shows me doing some of it wrong. Oops.
4. The unusual.
In a world where a lot of the same information gets shared around, what can you take from that same-same information and make it your own? Or how can you find the unusual, the different (the noice!) in a topic, an interview or at an event that will make your blog post work for your reader and be different from the next blogger.
It’s this ability to put your own spin or find the difference that will position you as the person in the know. The person with the story behind the press release or the seasonal event.
A recent example: Target launched it’s Roberto Cavalli collection at the end of last month. I couldn’t make the launch in Sydney but as I was looking around the site, I noticed that Target had photographed the collection on a size 14-16 model as well as a size 8. That was a point of difference I knew my readers would be interested in. And they were.
This is something of particular importance and something for all bloggers to consider. How are you helping your reader when they land on your blog to read a post?
Are you helping them by entertaining them, by inspiring them or by offering advice? Like when you attend a conference and want “key takeaways” from a speaker or a panel, think about the key takeaways from each post and your blog as a whole?
When you understand what those takeaways are, you can continue to develop and deliver content that helps your existing readers in their day-to-day life. When you help your readers, they come back … and they tell others about you.
If you are clear on how these keys to blog news sense apply to your blog and your readership, then you already have an unwritten set of guidelines in your head as to what makes good content for your blog.
I covered off in greater detail here how I work with PRs and brands and I can honestly say I could not physically or mentally deal with the barrage of PR and brand emails that arrive daily in my inbox without clarity around the content I publish on Styling You.
By being clear on my editorial content guidelines, which I’ve based on my blog news sense, I can quickly decide whether to respond, file, delete or send through to my agent for discussions around potential sponsorship.
If you’re not someone who can keep all this stuff in your head (and God knows as I get on in years, not much stays put in there for long), why not go through those five keys to blog news sense and write notes about how each might apply to your blog and your readership.
Then, nut out some content guidelines of your own. It doesn’t have to be a fancy document … just a bit of a plan that will help you to continue to produce and deliver content that is read, loved and shared.
Are you clear on what works content-wise for your blog? How’s your blog news sense?
Thanks so much to everyone who plays along with my Saturday blogging linky. Sharing your blogging knowledge with other bloggers and potential bloggers really is how this blogging world best goes round. It’s a bit like having a mini online conference here every week.
Remember if you want to join in, just add your link below. The link needs to be to a post ABOUT BLOGGING (all others will be deleted). Please fill in the box where it says “name” like this: BLOG NAME: Blog post title. That way your blog gets a plug and if you include the title of your post, you’ll attract readers interested in the topic.
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