Posts Tagged post title
A blog post is a short article posted on a blog site. What you are reading now is a post on the Live Writer Basics blog. In this article I want to take my newer blogger friends a little bit behind the scenes to help them learn the details and mechanisms of a blog post.
First a bit about blog sites and services
A vast number of blogs are hosted by WordPress, as is this blog. There are other blogging services and they differ in many respects from WordPress, but I will quickly go over how a blog functions on WordPress. A blogger sets up an account by clicking the “Get started here” button on WordPress.com. With the account comes a blog site. In setting up the blog, the blogger selects the site address and name. This blog has the address “https://livewriterbasics.wordpress.com” the name of the blog is Live Writer Basics as you can see at the top of this page. The blog consists of one or more pages. Typically the “landing page”, the one you get to with the blog’s URL or web address, shows the posts, the short articles, with the most recent one at the top.
The formatting, layout and style, of the blog is defined by a “theme” provided by the blogging service. WordPress has hundreds of themes to choose from. There may be a header image in addition to the blog name and byline. Most blogs have “sidebars” with various items of information. Typical items in the sidebar are links to prior posts, a search box, archive, links to other blogs, and other items that are automatically updated so the blogger does not need to worry about accessibility to information on the blog.
There may be other pages, reached with links on a menu bar, very much like any typical website. The pages in a blog contain more permanent information such as the About page here. There may be some advertising. This post may be followed below by an ad that WordPress places. This is how WordPress can make blogging free or very inexpensive. The blogger using a WordPress.com blog may not place any ads in the blog.
The “front” page may be quite long, showing a number of the recent-most posts. One such page is illustrated at the right. Posts and pages can be created in Windows Live Writer.
The blogging service, in this case WordPress, provides summary pages reached by the category and tag links.
Possible the most important part of a blog is the ability for readers to leave comments at the end of each post. This provides two-way communication between the blogger and the audience.
What does a post consist of?
Each post has a title. This is followed by the text or the article, maybe photos or other content. There is a post date showing the date, and often, the time the post was “published” or placed on the blog site. Typically a post is also marked with a topic, called “category” at WordPress, and “tags” that describe the topic details in more detail. Such categories and tags link to similar content in the blog and, more importantly, to other blogs. WordPress provides for such tagging. In addition there may be tags using another service. This blog also contains “Technorati” tags – you can see them illustrated below and real ones at the end of this article.
Here is an illustration of a typical post title, post date, and all-important first paragraph.
The end of that post looks like this:
The article ends with an “end of Ludwig’s story” mark, a copyright notice, links to the author’s website and social sites. This is followed by a group of Technorati tags. Each tag links to a Technorati page showing blogs on that topic.
There are a group of links to allow the reader to share the post and to indicate a “Like” to the author.
The gray links are the WordPress categories, marked “Posted in” that link to pages showing posts of that category, and tags introduced with “Tagged”. These also link to pages showing posts on those topics.
The last item in the gray WordPress items is a link to the comments on this post.
The skeleton of a blog post
In spite of the complex and and well-manicured look, the actual post consists of just HTML code. It is the reader’s browser that puts it all together and makes it look the way it was intended.
This is the code produced by Live Writer. Of course, when writing the blogger uses the “Edit” mode which shows the post pretty much as it will appear to the reader. Note that there are no images in this code, the pictures are defined by hyperlinks and are not stored with the post code. Live Writer takes care of those details and a novice blogger can be unconcerned – it just works.
When writing the text the author has “HTML styles” available to define the elements of the text and a limited set of font and positioning commands.
Normal text is called “Paragraph”, there are six “heading” styles. The actual appearance is defined by the blog theme and, once selected for the blog, is not further controllable. There are, however, additional controls for font, type size, and text placement. These are also limited. In Live Writer fonts can be set to any available on the bloggers computer. They will work just fine if the reader has that same font available on the computer used to view the blog. That last sentence contains the reason why a blogger must be very careful about setting the font. There is no assurance that it is available to the reader.
This is a quick look at the mechanics, the anatomy, of a blog post. A blogger is assisted by Live Writer in putting it all together so it works. It is easy to prepare a blog post, writing a captivating, informative, helpful, and timely article, well, that is another story.
© 2012 Ludwig Keck
Shops of days gone by attracted customers with their “shingles” hanging outside. Your blog posts also vie for readers with public “signs”. Three in fact, and they compete in various venues for attention. They are your post title, illustration, and the first words of your post.
Like it or not, these three “shingles” are all you have for your post to be noticed and to bring in your readers. You might argue that your regular readers subscribe to your blog or regularly look in. Even then, your post must compete for their time and interest. The title and that first illustration must draw their attention and the first words must be compelling enough for them to read on. So it is important that you spend some extra time to “spruce up”, or shape up, these three “shingles” of your post so they perform effectively in selling and bringing in readers.
Consider the many places your posts are publicized. You likely have Twitter, Facebook, and maybe other social sites connected. These in turn may show up in still other places. Search results will find your posts. RSS feeds on your and other sites might show them. Some you may not even be aware of. Let’s look at how posts are mentioned in some of these places.
On the right are a number of screen clips. The first two are from Twitter and Facebook. This is followed by a Google+ message. You can see already the different ways the post is seen.
Twitter only shows the title.
Facebook shows title, a thumbnail of the first illustration and a bit of the starting text.
Google+ is very similar to Facebook, even to how much of the introductory text is shown.
When someone searches for information using words that are matched in your post, the results may look like these three items from Google, Bing, and Yahoo searches. Here too, the title is shown followed by a bit of text from the post.
There are other places to consider. Here a couple of RSS feeds as seen in blog sidebars. These show only the titles. In some RSS feeds more information is shown when the pointer is moved to the title. Here is one such case. A fair amount of the introductory text is shown in a screen tip balloon.
When someone pins your WordPress blog to the Taskbar, right-clicking shows recent posts. In the jump list only part of the title is shown. The illustration of such a jump list also points out another problem. Non-alphanumeric characters are replaced with ugly HTML code.
Well, I have illustrated a number of venues where your “shingles” hang out. These pictures also show some of the problems to keep in mind. So here are some tips to help you put your best foot forward.
The title of your post is the one “shingle” shown in all the places. So it it the most important in catching the readers attention.
State the topic
State the topic in your title. Think in terms of newspaper or magazine article titles. Tell what it is about. On this short phrase most readers will base their decision to continue or skip. Make them want to continue.
In many places the length of the information is limited. The most severe is the Windows Taskbar jump list. Keep in mind the limit for tweets, the title and the link must fit the 140-character limit.
Do not use non-alphanumeric characters
This is a strange requirement, but a number of “venues” replace apostrophes, hyphens, quote marks, and such, with HTML code. That really detracts from the appearance of the listing. Stick to just letters and numbers in titles, use the marks in your post text when appropriate. Appearance matters.
A fun title can perk up a readers attention. Use it when you can but avoid the nauseating teasers of television news fame – even the professionals can’t do those well.
Blog posts are more fun to read and often more informative when they are well illustrated. Select your first illustration carefully, that is the one that may be shown in a listing somewhere, it may well be the item that catches a readers eye.
Illustrations, like the text of your article, must be your own. Copying photos or text from “Internet resources” is not only plagiarism, it can also get you into legal trouble. If someone’s search leads to your post, it may also show the source of the “borrowed” material. Nothing will destroy your credibility more.
The introductory words
The first words of your blog post may be shown in listings. You can see examples in the illustrations above. These are the words that must convince your reader to click to keep reading. People are in a hurry these days. We glance at headlines, the lead photo, and maybe read the first sentence. This is what we all do, your readers are no different. Make the first words compelling.
After you finish the draft of a post, go over it with these tips in mind. With a catchy title, a neat illustration and a compelling introduction, your blog posts will be more widely read and enjoyed. You might even get some complimentary comments!
© 2011 Ludwig Keck