So you want to be a community blogger?
Community blogging on Gazettexta.com has been an interesting experience over the last three years. Some of my favorite posts were ones about the old neighborhood that I grew up in. Like many folks, where you grew up helps shape you. I am still thankful that I was able to grow up on Beacon Hill Drive and that I've kept in touch with many of the parents and kids. It's easier with Facebook...and this blog! I didn't realize I ran past a former neighbor's 'new' house until he posted something.
There are also some blogs I should have never posted. It's easy to say live and learn but once it's on the site, you learn fast.
If community blogging is on your 2013 resolution list here are a few tips from someone who has enjoyed, but stumbled many times along the way.
Don't get too personal. Leave that for a blog that is buried in Blogspot. Better yet, grab a pen and start a journal. Those blogs I wish I wouldn't have posted? They were all too personal.
Don't bite the hand. I've only had two blogs removed and honestly...the first one was not intended to upset Bliss Communications. It was a simple question of household budgeting and what you can and can't live without. The second one that was yanked was a reply to the first one being pulled. I could have done it via email. I decided to post my displeasure instead.
You are 'you'. Like it or not, anonymous comments will be posted and some can be downright mean...aimed at you.
Don't play in the sandbox. As much as you want to jump in and defend or support, don't bother. Leave the comment section for the anonymous. I jumped in a few times and it ended up being a train wreck.
Blog what you want to blog. When I first started I'd get a million of suggestions or requests. I tried to write a few but they didn't turn out. It's totally different than writing an article. Write for you.
Write for you but write to an audience. I just wrote about writing for you but if you forget about the audience you should probably find your journal. I've written a few blogs that I was passionate about, but those were some of my least read blogs. You still want readers.
Be consistent. What I mean by that is...write! It doesn't have to be every day like Greg Peck (he works for the joint) but give me more than one a year. Look at a few of the community blogs. Some of the recent posts are from 2011. Sorry, time to take those down.
Keep extended family out. Mainly Mom and Dad. I try to keep the kids out as much as possible but they make up a ton of who I am.
Keep organization names out. A few businesses have really ticked me off and I shared names a few times. Businesses don't like that. It's funny if I praise a business I'd get an email or actual letter thanking me. I also wrote something critical of that same business and they thought I shouldn't write about them. You can't please them. Try to keep the names out. If I have outstanding service I still mention them but I'm selective.
Remember, your employer reads this stuff. I shared my unemployment trials a few years ago (mistake) but I've kept my professional life out of my blog since then (other than my commute). I do mention this blog on my résumé rather than having employers or potential employers find out in a search. If you're going to blog in a forum like this I'd suggest doing the same.
Ok, it's time to get those fingers nimble and start writing those sample blogs! If you'd start a Gazette community blog what would you call it and what would you write about?
Steve Knox was born, raised and landed back in Janesville. He encourages you to participate as he writes on Janesville and beyond as this Generation X guy supports his Janesville mission, global vision. Steve is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.