There is little doubt that journalism is facing some very serious challenges. Newspapers across the country, and even the world, are facing declining readership and, in many cases, are closing down.
Though the role of journalism is changing in the Internet age, that doesn’t mean there is no place for the techniques and tools that journalists use and have used for decades. Though blog writing differs greatly from journalism writing in many ways, there are still elements of journalism and journalism writing that still apply.
Though a blogger certainly doesn’t need to go to a j-school to do well, there are some lessons from a journalism school that could help out. Specifically, here are five things that bloggers could pick up from a journalism school, or even just a journalism class, and not lose what makes them unique and personable.
5. The Inverted Pyramid
Even in the most traditional of newspapers, the inverted pyramid is not the correct format for every story, but there are many cases where it is the ideal way to present the information.
The inverted pyramid is a system that works by having the general synopsis of the article in the first paragraph with more and more details in subsequent paragraphs, working to the least important details at the end. The idea is that, if readers are not interested in a story, they can read the first few paragraphs and get the big idea, but those who want to know more can read more can read to the bottom and get the full story.
Though it isn’t ideal for all or even most blog posts, understanding the style and how to use it can help you convey information in the fastest and most accurate way.
4. Interviewing Skills
Some people are naturals at asking questions, others aren’t. Likewise, some people are naturals at answering questions while others make it feel like pulling teeth to get a quote.
Knowing how to put people at ease, how to ask questions that get people talking and what the role of an interviewer is is critical when trying to get information out of another person. Also, being comfortable asking tough questions and knowing when to press on an issue is important to getting the whole story.
As with any skill, there are those who do this well naturally, but for others, learning the ins and outs of the interview may be very helpful.
3. Radical Clarity
Radical clarity is a writing style taught in many journalism schools, though it often goes by other names. The premise is to not write so that you can be understood, but write so that you can’t be misunderstood. It’s about writing so that people, no matter what biases they bring to reading your story, will get your exact message.
Though not so much a specific style, it’s a way of rereading your own work with different viewpoints in mind and actively deconstructing your own words. The idea is to reduce, though not always eliminate, cases where people misinterpret what you are trying to say.
2. Copy Editing
Grammar rules may be taught in English classes, but the art of editing writing, especially one’s own, is covered much more thoroughly in journalism classes as it is a critical part of any reporter’s job.
Editing one’s own work is surprisingly difficult to do. Most people have a tendency to skim through their writing as they are already familiar with it. Journalism schools teach reporters how to slow down when reading their work, often by reading their writing out loud to themselves, and objectively editing it.
Mass Media Law
Though the medium has changed, the laws have not. Those who publish on the Internet are still responsible for being aware of the laws that they will be held accountable to. Copyright, defamation, libel, trademark and privacy are just some of the areas of law that are critical for bloggers to know about and are all covered in basic law and ethics classes in most journalism schools.
The EFF has created a great Legal Guide for Bloggers that goes over many of these areas, still there is no substitute for an actual class on these issues and a robust understanding of the law.
Just because you, as a blogger, may not write like a journalist doesn’t mean you can’t be sued like one. It happens all the time.
For bloggers who have studied journalism, the key is to find ways to incorporate the important parts of their education into their blogging without hurting their voice or personality on the Web. For those who haven’t studied journalism, it is important to find ways to integrate the most important and more relevant lessons from journalists into their writing.
In the end, no matter what kind of blogging you are doing, there are ways that at least some education in journalism can help you improve it. Fortunately, these days you can likely get much of that education informally and on the Web.
After all, you don’t need a degree in journalism, just a basic understanding of some of its key components.
Are You Afraid to Color Outside of the Blogging Lines?
I am coloring with my 2 year old niece now.
Blog post idea; after 2 photo snaps and a quick analogy realization I figured coloring with a 2 year old conveys a blogging success lesson to you.
My niece does not fear coloring outside of the lines. She is smart as a whip but has yet to master the concept of coloring inside of the lines. Few 2 year olds get this idea.
Scribbling like mad, her work consists of zags, hard lines, zigs, and you better believe she colors almost exclusively outside of the lines. She is as happy as a lark to break the rules, to just be coloring. Coloring is fun to her. Who cares if she stays in the lines?
I instantly thought of my blogging career.
I retired to a life of island hopping through smart blogging by coloring outside of the blogging lines, choosing to do what feels fun to me versus doing what bloggers said I should do.. No email list at Blogging From Paradise. Not much search traffic either because I don’t do the SEO thing. I publish up to 4 blog posts daily. No doubt; I follow certain rules and do color inside of the lines sometimes but largely succeeded because I blog outside of the box, following my fun, pursuing my passion.
You may look at me and wonder how in the heck I do it? You follow all common blogging rules diligently. Yet you may struggle. What gives?
Blogging is an energy game. If you do what feels fun to you, you will succeed wildly. Even if you break rules in the process.
Even though I promote 1 blogging eBook above all else I still wrote 126 eBooks. Big time rule breaker guys. Most bloggers only write 1 eBook and promote the stuffing out of it before moving on to the next eBook. Nothing wrong with that but this is usually a scarcity mindset in action. I preferred to think abundantly and wrote my rear end off. Coloring outside of the lines. Blogging outside of the box.
Follow Some Blogging Rules But Break a Bunch
Nobody becomes wildly successful or lives a dream life through blogging by following all the rules. Rule breakers stand out from the crowd.
Breaking some blogging rules is just like coloring outside of the lines. Some bloggers believe your blog looks a bit sloppy, or disorderly, or that you are doing things wrong, if you color outside of the blogging lines. But these bloggers are usually totally obsessed with doing things perfectly, struggling like heck because nobody is perfect and when you try to be perfect you will fail. Perfection is the fear of failure and the fear of criticism, combined. Don’t let bloggers who color inside of the lines fool you.
How to Succeed by Coloring Outside of the Blogging Lines
Follow your intuition guys.
Listen to the small, still voice.
Trust your gut.
Do what feels most fun to you; not what bloggers say you should do.
I do not build an email list. This is coloring outside of the blogging lines.
Yet I live a life few bloggers live, spending months in Fiji, Bali, Thailand and Costa Rica among other tropical paradises.
No SEO on Blogging From Paradise because I do not want to depend on search traffic. Yet I have circled the globe for the past 7 years as a full time digital nomad.
Break some rules guys.
Do freeing, fun and highly uncomfortable things. Even if doing so pulls you away from the blogging herd.
Color outside of the blogging lines guys.
Live your wildest dreams.
How Do I Teach Bloggers if I Am a New Blogger?
I see that question popping around in your head.
The same question danced around in my head 10 years ago. How could I teach people how to blog if I did not know how to blog? Plus I had no connections. No skills either. Big time problem.
Here is how to solve your problem:
- learn how to blog from top pros
- write 500 words daily offline
- publish 1-2 posts weekly, turning around and teaching what you learned
- continue to learn both about blogging and your blogging niche
Learn then teach.
Or absorb then teach.
Jan Verhoeff published this post yesterday:
She led off the post explaining how she watched one of my Facebook Live Broadcasts recently and delved deeper into the topic I discussed, said topic being blogging overlap.
Jan is a seasoned veteran blogger but she and I both use this concept of learning or absorbing then immediately teaching the concept to our readers. Knowledge ain’t getting stale in our brain boxes.
Newbie bloggers; I get it. You may feel intimidated to learn, then to teach. But being a blogging student is hands down your most important role as a new blogger because learning and studying gives you confidence to turn around and teach your new found knowledge quickly.
Check out my guest post on Janice Wald’s Mostly Blogging:
Janice regularly shares this post and noted it still drives blog traffic.
New and seasoned blogging veterans alike know deep down we are all perpetual students. Plus we know that in order to teach we must first learn, being open and willing students.
Newbie bloggers; you better become a voracious reader of blogging tips and tips aligned with your niche. Learn to gain confidence and clarity. Then you better practice writing like crazy. Pen 500 words daily offline to become a confident writer.
Being armed with knowledge and improving writing skills sets the foundation to learn, then to teach.
10 years ago when I was a new blogger I read a post on Ray Higdon Dot Com.
This iconic network marketer introduced me to the simple concept of how you can teach folks how to succeed in your niche, even as a newbie. Learn. Teach.
Allow little time to elapse between learning and teaching. Teaching does not require 10,000 word blog posts or 45 minute long videos or eBooks or courses.
Practical Examples of Teaching
Peep these examples of how you can learn a concept and teach as a new blogger:
- record and upload a 1 minute long video on YouTube
- write and publish a 600 word post on your blog
- record and upload a 5 minute long podcast
The idea is to learn a concept and to be comfortable teaching the concept without being an expert. Fraud energies may arise guys. Fears attempt to shame you into remaining quiet. Don’t trust these fears. Don’t believe these lies.
If you want to become a blogger you better get comfortable with being a teacher because blogging is teaching. If you want to become a teacher you better be a hungry student, learning the in’s and out’s of blogging and your niche and practicing your writing to more easily convey your blogging message.
Hit the ground running as a new blogger.
Nobody begins blogging as an experienced blogger.
Nobody begins blogging with blogging skills.
We need to learn and practice persistently as a new blogger to become a successful blogger.
Just don’t hesitate to turn around and teach what you have learned immediately, to drive traffic to your blog.
Do I Look Lucky to You?
Many people believe me to be lucky.
Folks think I am so lucky to travel the world.
Like a magic fairy alighted on my shoulder, tapped me with a magic wand, and sent me to that location in Bali you see in the featured image.
As if I lucked out to circle around the globe for the past 7 years.
Not quite guys.
Luck does not exist.
Smart, generous work helped me retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging.
Peep this link:
Does that sound lucky? Was I lucky to write and publish 583 guest posts on Blogging Tips alone? Am I lucky to have written and published thousands of blog posts during the past decade I spent online?
Have I been lucky to work hundreds of thousands of hours during my life, in order to retire to a life of island hopping through smart blogging?
Did luck make me a full time digital nomad? Have I been lucky to write and self-publish 126 eBooks?
Luck does not exist.
Smart, energized, years of work, this brings blogging success.
Convenience Store Luck
Back in New Jersey for a bit.
After spending a few moments at the local convenience store I saw no less than 5 people buy lottery tickets.
Folks spend money on a wing and a prayer, hoping, praying, begging to make money through a game of chance.
Forget building a sustainable online business. Forget rendering service to become successful with your blog. Don’t even bother investing money in solid vehicles.
Leave your life to chance. See if you get lucky.
Terrible mindset to have guys.
Luck does not exist. No magical fairy blesses some folks and curses other folks. Nobody suffers from bad luck. Chance does not exist.
Smart, intelligent service, persistently applied, exists. Learning and practicing the skill of blogging for 2-4 years of your life exists. Spending 10 years writing and publishing thousands of posts exists. Commenting on 50,000 blogs exists. Being generous exists. Helping folks for months before making a dime exists.
Luck does not exist.
Luck Is a Jailer
If you believe successful bloggers are lucky, that limiting belief jails you. Since you believe you are not lucky you naturally will always struggle and fail. Not a good belief to cling to guys.
Many bloggers think I am:
- a natural
but I am not. I just spent years of my life learning, practicing and mastering the skill of blogging. I wrote almost 600 guest posts on Blogging Tips alone. Does that sound like luck, or chance, or like a blessing? Smart, persistent work guys. I committed fully to blogging so blogging committed fully to me. Simple equation but goodness does this journey feel uncomfortable at times.
Early Friday evening, here I am writing this guest post as my 2 year old niece hangs all over me, bopping me on the head. Hardly a crazy challenge but still a bit of a challenge. Try thinking through a post and writing it while a hyper 2 year old does all in her power to grab your attention.
I am not writing this post because Lady Luck sent me the idea. I am writing this post because I have written 2 million plus words during the past decade of my life, so words flow easily for me.
- Creating, connecting and polishing my blogging skills by patiently writing and broadcasting live videos daily helped me craft a neat life for me and for my readers.
- Generously commenting on other blogs and promoting other bloggers helped me become a pro blogger.
- Persisting through thick and thin created my blogging success.
The next time you explain someone’s success as a simple matter of luck, think again.
Luck does not exist.
Search Blogging Tips
Blogging2 years ago
6 Tools For Boosting Content Marketing Results Over The Holidays
Blogging1 year ago
6 Steps for How I Nabbed 6500 Comments on My Blog
Search Engine Optimisation2 years ago
7 SEO Analysis Tools Every Blogger Needs to Know
Blogging2 weeks ago
113 Bloggers share their Favorite Email Marketing Tools
Blogging12 months ago
How to Start a Fashion Blog in 8 Simple Steps
Blogging1 year ago
57 Must-Read Books For Entrepreneurs Recommended by Entrepreneurs
Blogging5 months ago
How to Find Success with Blogging and Affiliate Marketing in Asia
Blogging2 years ago
How to Become a Nimble Blogger