Blog Course: Outline

What tools and skills are required to be a successful blogger? Over the next few weeks I will use this space to answer that question. As I mentioned last week, I will be coordinating a one-day class (Jan 21) through UC Extension in Berkeley, this is the best time to do my prep work and park my research.

The metaphor I will use to organize my thoughts is the tree, branch, twig and leaf. The tree will be the greatest summation of skills. Branches will be main categories, twigs will be refinements off the categories and leaves could be examples. That might even suggest a visual indexing system to display the results but that is down the road. Because I am literally thinking out loud, I’d anticipate a lot of backtracking and revision before the tree takes shape.

One way to divide the skills is by the actions:
creation (writing or otherwise populating the blog with material);
publishing (the technical skills required to present material on the Web);
networking (gaining attention and visibility for your work);
sales (making money through advertising, subscription, speaking, other);

These actions spring from the soil or environment of the blog, specifically, its:
topic or theme (the focus of the author or authors);
the topic depends on or builds and audience (whether you start with a following or try to collect one);
and an audience may require measurement and tracking (if your blogging is to be anything more than a hobby).

While the universe of topics is endless, I’ve chosen three broad categories to shape the class:
politics (general commentary, special interest, organizing, and etcetera)
passion (artistic expression, pursuit of a hobb or of a cultural rather than a political cause)
profit (publishing for revenues, using a blog to support a business or consulting practice)

Finally, whatever topic or topics a blogger pursues, whether for self-amusement or self-support, it pays to know:
the history and ethos of the blogging community;
its notable personalities;
its contests and other ways to discover best (or at least popular) practices;
and how to tap into its buzz.

I’ll pick up the thread Tuesday.

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media