By Request Tuesday – What Type of Posts Work Best in Blogs?

OK, I know that I sometimes write really long posts. My Heart of Blogness post was more than 4,000 words.
Long or short? Personal or “just the facts”? Links, reportage or commentary?
In short, whatever best fits your voice.
As a more practical matter, here are some of my observations.
Long vs. Short Posts
Short posts are usually “better” for most bloggers. It’s clear that fewer people will read your posts as the posts get longer. If you were able to learn about and graph readership vs. length of post, I think you’d see a precipitous decline after a post reaches about 400 words or so.
If you write a long post, you need to assume that fewer people will start to read the post (and even fewer will read it all the way through) and that the post might be saved, bookmarked or printed, but probably not read by as many people as you might have hoped.
HOWEVER, you may well develop your most loyal readership because of long posts, some might get turned into articles and some may turn out to be very long-lived and referred to by many others. They may also fall off the cliff into the deep dark sea.
I always get people telling me that I shouldn’t write as many long posts as I do. Remember, however, that I’ve written hundreds of articles and I’m quite comfortable in the 1,000 – 2,500 word range. Several of my long posts have been published as articles.
However, I expect and accept a greatly decreased readership for longer posts. That’s why I do a mix on the lengths of my posts.
In general, I’d recommend posts of a few hundred words (or less) for most new bloggers. Then adjust the length of your posts to fit your voice. There’s no magic formula, other than to note the general preference of readers for shorter posts.
If you write longer posts, think about using subheadings, bullet points and other web writing techniques that help your readers approach your article as “chunks.”
In particular, be very aggressive about paragraphing.
Forget what you were taught about not using single sentence paragraphs. Get the white space in there. You almost want to break paragraphs by sight.
If the paragraph is getting long, hit two returns and start a new paragraph. That helps today’s readers.
Personal vs. Objective Style.
You’re asking me? When in doubt, take a personal approach and use a personal style.
Links, Reportage or Commentary.
Who are you? What do you want? Figure out what your blog will be about and what you want to accomplish and you’ll get your answer.
Generally, if you are a little uncomfortable with your writing skills or are worried about how you will sound or what people might think, go with an approach that emphasizes linking and reporting news. Gradually try a few efforts at commentary (preferably something more than “that sucks”) or even more personally approaches. You’ll get feedback that either encourages you or discourages you.
Your approach will evolve over time. Heck, I have a much more personal and individual approach now than I had six months ago, let alone when I started this blog.
The “Perfect” Post.
As in article writing these days, you will generally get more response to a post that takes the form of “three reasons,” “five steps,” “seven tips” or some other numbered approach. People like this approach these days. I love posts and articles of this type. If you write a piece of this type that runs 800 to 1,200 words, you should be able to get it published as an article in print (assuming it’s reasonably good) and probably get requests from other publications to reprint it. It’s the sweet spot in the market.
A short post (less than 400 words) of this “numerical” style with a catchy title will consistently give you more audience and publicity than any other type of post that you do (except of course for post on celebrity gossip and other topics of enduring popularity).
In other words, you’d be making a huge mistake to model your blog posts after mine. But you’d also be making a mistake to decide that you need to tie yourself to some other blogger’s model.
One other point. If you do try to follow some other blogger’s model, you’ll quickly notice that (1) it’s much more difficult to write in that style than you ever expected and (2) your blogger model makes it look much easier than it really is.
One of my favorite examples of this is Tom Mighell at Inter Alia. It looks easy to write the kind of posts that Tom does, but it actually is extremely difficult to do so. I’ve tried and I can’t do it. On the other hand, I suspect that you might find it far more difficult than you expect to write in as “loose” a style as I seem to use.
It’s more about finding a voice than finding a technique.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

By Request Friday – Given the Years that You Spent in Estate Planning Earlier in Your Career, Do You Have Any Insights into Some of the New Issues Arising Over Digital Information, Email, Blogs and Websites When Someone Dies?

Great question! And a timely one as well.
I was recently interviewed by Susan Shor on this very topic for an article that just appeared at http://www.technewsworld.com/story/40578.html. Susan’s excellent article covers a good number of thought-provoking issues that are both theoretical and practical at the same time.
In many cases, the traditional rules and procedures that we use in the paper world will cover what is needed in the digital world, if only we could take a deep breath and not panic and think that “the Internet changes everything and we need different rules because the old rules don’t apply.”
The difficulties come in three ways: (1) the traditional processes may be way too slow, (2) there is not a history and degree of comfort with what happens in the digital world on death that you find in standard “probate” procedures, and (3) non-Internet savvy lawyers, executors and trustees can easily overlook digital “assets” and may have no appreciation of the value of digital and intellectual property assets.
Here’s an example. Imagine Hunter S. Thompson had never published any books, but that all of his writings were on his blog. On his death, what value do you put on the estate tax return for the value of his “blog assets”? Trick question – of course, you want to value them at zero. However, what value will the IRS want to see and what will the IRS agree to accept?
Is your blog simply a hosting contract that should be terminated to as an ongoing liability to be extinguished or is it a potential source of income to look after your survivors?
It’s not so easy, is it? What do you think the lawyer who prepared your will / living trust will say when you ask these questions about your blog, your email and the rest of your digital life and digital assets? What is a reasonable expectation for legal representation in our increasingly digital world?
A little scary, isn’t it?
It’s another example how if you discuss blogging in almost any context, you almost invariably find yourself addressing very fundamental core questions.
Susan quotes me in the article on what, to me, became the most interesting issue raised during our phone call:
“More and more social relationships are people we know on the Internet,” [Kennedy] told TechNewsWorld. “If someone dies, there are a lot of people who should be notified. The fact that someone has died is very meaningful and a paper address book may not have closest friends. Those people who are known mainly through e-mail or online may wonder what happened. By the time things get sorted out, the funeral is long over, and it’s too late.”
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week – Extension of ABA TECHSHOW 2005 Early Bird Discount Deadline

Good news for bargain hunters! The TECHSHOW 2005 Early Bird Discount Deadline has been extended to March 4. The early bird discount is $100.
For information about TECHSHOW 2005 and registration information, please go to http://www.techshow.com, where you’ll find schedules, pricing and the new TECHSHOW blog, which has an RSS feed.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week – Free PDF Download of First Two Years of Blog Archives

I thought I’d run the Blog Birthday Celebration Week thing another day or two.
Today, readers receive the gift of a free download of the first two years of DennisKennedy.Blog posts, organized by category, in one relatively humongous PDF file (approx. 1.5 megabyte download). The PDF document runs 479 pages and includes, as bonus, a copy of my article – “Life-Altering Technology – News Aggregators and Newsfeeds.” Although not quite the same as a podcast, you can even use the “Read Out Loud” option in Adobe Acrobat to have all of the blog posts read out loud to you by “Microsoft Sam” or any other voice you might have loaded on your computer.
Like many other bloggers, I still have Gmail invitations to give away. If you want one, just email me at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com.
I have a few surprises left for tomorrow (Tuesday), the last day of DennisKennedy.Blog Birthday Celebration Week. I’ll announce those tomorrow.
However, I will now announce that, by popular demand, “Request Tuesday” will return tomorrow. Email me your questions at denniskennedyblog @ gmail.com. I have a few left over from the past week that I’ll try to answer tomorrow and I’ll also take a stab at new questions.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]

Search Engine Optimization – “Bump Drafting” Your Google Ranking

I noticed what may be a new search engine optimization (“SEO”) effect today. Since I spent the weekend enjoying the Daytona NASCAR action, I spent a good deal of time hearing about and observing the current NASCAR trend called “bump drafting.”
“Bump drafting” is a form of traditional drafting in which, as crazy it might seem, the following car actually bumps the lead car. The “bump” pushes the lead car forward and while the following car falls back a bit, it can apparently take advantage of the airflow dynamics so that both cars end up going faster. It’s a little dangerous, not surprisingly.
What does this have to do with SEO?
Today, Denise Howell, who coined the word “blawg,” posted about her finding that there were 299,000 instances of “blawg” in Google. I ran a few test searches and drew some tentative conclusions.
If you run the “blawg” search, you may get a slightly different number. If you eyeball the results, you’ll see why people now think that Google’s rankings put a strong emphasis on placement of words in page titles. For example, The Blawg Channel is the #4 ranking.
On the other hand, none of the results will immediately show Denise’s role in coining the word “blawg.”
If you do a search on “dennis kennedy” (but without quotes), you will see 1,750,000 instances of the term. Hey, I’m the first one and two. In fairness, the name “kennedy” will generate a lot of instances. So, I searched “dennis kennedy” (in quotes). Slightly over 60,000 instances. Interestingly, you will see the priority given to placement of words in the page title.
I also took a look at searches on “blawg,” adding the word “dennis” and then the word “kennedy.”
Here’s the bump drafting concept. In both cases, posts on Jim Calloway’s blog that had my name in the title were the #1 ranked items. My blog was #2. As you may recall, when Jim launched his blog, a good number of legal bloggers, including me, mentioned Jim’s blog (because we like Jim so much) and his blog shot up the charts in Google. In a way, we gave Jim the “bump” and drafted in behind him in the rankings. It’s a fascinating phenomenon. The irony is that, in some cases, you might “bump” someone else farther ahead of you than you expect.
I want to do a little more research on the concept to see if it is a real effect or just an anomaly.
I will note that in the blawg + dennis and blawg + kennedy searches, you will find my post mentioning Denise as the coiner of the term blawg.
Another interesting development. For the first time, I made the first page of responses on a search on the name “dennis.” It’s unclear whether that’s a blog effect or a reflection of a downward trend in the popularity of Dennis Rodman.
By the way, none of this increases my confidence about the use of Google to actually find the information I want.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (http://www.denniskennedy.com/blog/)]