These are suggestions I wrote up for a group of Sudanese who want to run their own blogs. I thought I would share them, in case they have a wider use.
All the examples are Sudanese, but you can swap them for examples that fit your circumstances!
- Your audience: This is the key question. Who are you aiming your blog at? Who do you want to reach? It is vital that you write everything with this in mind. So, for example, a general British audience would need a map in most stories to locate Darfur or South Kordofan. An African audience would also need one. A Sudanese audience would not. But any Sudanese might find a map helpful to locate a particular village. You can use this test with any piece of information you include in the story.
- News: This is what sells stories – not opinions! If you can explain something clearly and simply that no-one else knows, then people will follow you.
- Your headline is vital: This ‘sells’ your story. Ask yourself what they key point it – what you would say to your friend, so that he or she would listen. Keep it short and sharp.
- Put the news first: So say what you are trying to say at the start of the article. For example: “Man detained for 18 months goes on hunger strike” might be the headline. The first sentence might be: “Abdul Nasir, a human rights worker from Darfur detained by the Security Services in Khartoum Central Prison, has gone on hunger strike, his wife says.”
- Write simply: Don’t try to be complicated in your sentences. Keep them short and to the point.
- Lots of photos: Add photographs and keep your information interesting with bullet points. Look at popular websites like the Guardian or Daily Mail to see how they lay out their pages. Steal their ideas for layout!
- Aim low: Do not try to influence the world, or the “international community”. No-one will listen. Rather, aim at your area of the Nuba mountains – become famous as the best informed person on your subject. Or aim your blog at the Sudanese faith communities in Lewisham. It does not matter who you aim at, but begin small and narrow – you can always expand when people follow you!
- Keep your blog up to date: Nothing is duller than a blog without fresh stories. Why should anyone go to it?
- Make friends: If possible amalgamate your blogs on a central blog that you can share. Put links in your own blogs to other people’s stories and blogs. If you mention another website or organisation try emailing them to tell them to re-blog your story.
- Make sure your blog is linked into social media sites: These include twitter and Facebook but you may aim at others as well.