How to develop good blog news sense

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.

Blog news sense is:

  • Sensing what your readers want to read about.
  • Sensing what they’re likely to talk about (or share) as a result of reading something on your blog.
  • Sensing what they’re likely to read and talk about that continues to get them excited enough to come back to your blog tomorrow and the next day … and the next.

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?

5 keys to good blog news sense

5 keys to good blog news sense

1.  Timeliness.

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.

2.  Relevancy.

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.

3.  Interest.

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.

5. Helpfulness.

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.

How blog news sense helps manage PR pitches

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.

A little blog work

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?

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Share your blogging know-how

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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  • Dave Morgan

    Thanks for the basic information about how to create a good news sense blog. However, I was just wandering if you ever use any tools in gathering information that defines a a good sense news?

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      The information is all around us – in mainstream media, landing in my inbox, thoughts and opinions from friends – I just use that for decide what’s possibly going to get talked about and what people are interested in reading.

  • http://www.goodblogs.com.au/ Alice Cornelios

    Good day Nikki, thanks for this post, helps me to think about my next project in a my good blogging site, however, catching for news feed in social media and other sources is quite an effort and would lead you to rewrite news post created by major news companies. But I am still thinking of the some other way around to make my post unique. I can still make use of this post and add my own analysis. Thanks once again.

  • http://www.redlandcityliving.com/ Janet from Redland City Living

    Love this post Nikki – you are always so encouraging and helpful.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Thanks Janet – appreciate your kind words x

  • http://www.yTravelBlog.com/ yTravelBlog

    Great tips Nikki! We are certainly thinking more of implementing newsy type articles with what we do so I find this very helpful! Love how you willingly share your wisdom

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Right back at you Caz xx

  • http://littlebitsoflovely.blogspot.com.au/ Rachel @ little bits of lovely

    Hi Nikki, thank you for sharing these great tips; I often struggle with the timeliness side of posting {like Carly I’m juggling blogging + working full time} but I hope to get better and be more organised about this!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Totally understand that – the key is to think, how will this post be relevant and timely for the day it’s published. So if it’s based on an event in the past, what’s the angle for the day of publishing. Does that make sense? The timeliness is only one aspect of news sense – the other key factors I listed are applicable no matter how far in advance or after the fact that you write.

  • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

    I read this post, left, came back, read it again and left… Now I’m back because it’s just SO valuable. No really. SO valuable. I’m going to do some new year content planning and this feels like the only guide I will need. Thank you for sharing! Legend.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Mel, I’m no legend … just have stuff bubbling in my head that I like to download and hope that someone else is interested. I realised the whole news sense thing was something that I had been working with my whole working life so it does come naturally to me and it might be of help to others who hadn’t heard of the concept.

      Newspapers use news sense to produce stories that sell newspapers. The more newspapers they sell, the higher the circulation figure, the more they can charge for advertising. It’s a very similar model to a blog like mine where the advertising income is in direct correlation to readership stats. x

      • http://www.sugercoatit.com/ Melissa Walker Horn

        That makes perfect sense. A lot like me and business plans or me and time management. All stuff that makes perfect sense if you were born and raised in property management/business. Not so much to everyone else.

        A very similar model indeed. Food for thought. xo

  • http://twitter.com/Schmiet Diet Schmiet

    Have to admit I struggle a bit when trying to work out what my readers want. Having the two blogs also means it’s hard to maintain my ‘voice’ in either/both.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Deb, I’ve been thinking about your blogs a lot lately. I’d be happy to skype with you some time and share my thoughts xx

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    Great info,probably shouldn’t be commenting but I am storing all this info away,but you do all those things plus more and I Thank You for that Nikki!

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      You’re always welcome here Lisa and good to research before you start!

      • Lisa Mckenzie

        Thanks Nikki x

  • Lisa

    Thanks Nikki, I will be bookmarking this post for sure. I am in the process of trying to figure out what my readers want in order to keep them. especially when I get visitors but only 1-2 people are commenting. Also a quick question for you. If you do a series post when do you decide to pull it from the blog if not working? Or do you just do a set amount to start with and then extend it if the readership is there? Thanks for sharing once again, I love dropping in for bloggy biz Saturday x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Good question Lisa … I’ve never batch written a series but will be for January. Usually I’ve started what might become a regular weekly post and just seen how it’s gone. These Saturday posts started as that almost 2 years ago! If no-one was reading them I would have stopped ages ago. The great thing about blogging is that it’s instant market research. I find because a lot of what I do is visual, Instagram is also a good market research tool for me. That’s how the semi-regular weekend recipe posts started. I’d post a photo of something I had cooked or made and people would ask for the recipe. So to answer your question, I just go with reader response and gut feeling and if I’m still enjoying writing a series … then I just adjust as I want. The beauty of blogging is that you can move on – you don’t have to hang on to something just because you started it.

  • Rhianna @A Parenting Life

    Thanks for sharing Nikki, I am currently in the process of trying to get to know my readers a little better, but don’t really know where to begin. My blog news sense is pretty low so I got a lot from this post

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I’m glad you did Rhi … blog news sense is something to keep in your head and something you can action on. My advice to you – look back over all your years of blogging. What posts really resonated with YOU and your YOUR READERS. Try and work out why you think that was the case and see if there are more of those types of posts that would work for your blog in the future.

  • http://www.theimperfectmum.com.au/ The Imperfect Mum

    Love this post. Just what I needed! – Hope you’re well – Kristy xx

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      I am Kristy – hope you are too. Love watching your FB community in action. x

  • Carly Findlay

    Great post Nikki! It is hard as a part time blogger/full time worker to stay ahead of the pack in news sense – often by the time I want to write about a current event, its currency has past because I am at my day job/too tired. But then sometimes I can just rattle off a blog post quickly after being inspired by something in the news.
    I used to want to be the first person with a concert review up! And so I’d take notes at a concert, take heaps of photos, and then stay up til 2 am writing the review amd editing the photos, scheduling the review for 7am. This became exhausting and then I realised I didn’t enjoy some of the concerts because I was too focused on note taking! Last night I was at a show, I took around 20 photos (a big difference to the 100+ digital / 4 rolls of film I used to take!), and made three dot points in my phone. I’m going to blog about it soon, but there’ll be no pressure to be the first review up.

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Totally understand that Carly … and I think micro blogging via Twitter and Instagram from a concert or event fills the gap until you can post. Then you can re-angle it with the perspective that time brings.

      • Carly Findlay

        Yes! I already have two tweets to use in my blog post! Micro blogging is good for a taster/to help your memory!

  • http://twitter.com/26YearsCounting 26 Years & Counting

    I find this an interesting balance between news sense & ‘just posts’ – I tend to pre-write blog posts then schedule them, so (apart from watching my tenses) I have to be ‘timeless’ in my writing – but I suppose using the topics you suggested, this is where things like the unusual or helpfulness become timeless. Blogging sure has its challenges…

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      Even if you batch write posts – all of the above still hold the key (except for responding immediately to an event). I wouldn’t see it as a challenge just as a way to develop – all this can evolve as you do. x

  • http://twitter.com/RedcliffeStyle Rachel Wernicke

    I am not sure how my blogging news sense is but I feel like my understanding of my readers improves a little all the time. Well, at least I am hoping it is. I love your Saturday bloggy posts. Rachel x

    • http://www.stylingyou.com.au/ Nikki | Styling You

      That’s the main thing that will help you continue to develop great content Rach x