Wednesday, June 8, 2016

4 Essential Questions to Ask Before Attempting Blogging

Blogging – how hard can it be, right? I write about something I’m passionate about or interested in, I post it to my blog forum, share it with friends, and BAM! I’m a social media superstar overnight.


Think again. It may appear easy to those of us who enjoy reading blogs but it takes time, a little elbow grease (or finger grease if you’ve been snacking on some munchies as food for thought), and a lot of creativity to publish the blogs we see online now. It’s become so popular that many people are making a living off of it. So how can we begin the blogging experience without feeling defeated within the first week you might ask? Let’s start with the basics.

Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, social media experts with extensive knowledge in the field, explain in their book The Art of Social Media how we can “perfect our posts” online. (It’s an easy read, extremely informative, and quite humorous, so if you get the chance, read it. It will be worth your time.) They keep their “tips” short and sweet just as most posts online should be; however, before they dive in to the art of perfecting a post, they begin this particular chapter (3) with a quote by George Orwell.

            “A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at
least four questions, thus:
1.    What am I trying to say?
2.    What words will express it?
3.    What image or idiom will make it clearer?
4.    Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”

-  George Orwell, “Politics and The English Language” (Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick, 41)

These are the very questions that Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick focus on to dish out the appropriate tips for this topic. Here are a few of my own examples of answers to these questions, which we will also explore in depth with Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick’s tips.

“What am I trying to say?”
-       I can literally write or blog about anything I find interesting but what I am trying to say about an issue is key. When I started my first blog, it was used for the sole purpose of keeping my friends and family back home in the States informed of our daily adventures in Brazil over a 3-week period of time. Once I came home, I stopped writing and it hasn’t been touched. As I prepared for this assignment and read through our textbook, I realized I can still use my “Brazil” blog but I just need to expand on it. I can use it as a way of staying informed on issues taking place in Brazil (or around the world) through online articles, posting new Brazilian recipes I may try at home with my family, posting pictures of places I would like to visit, and updates of our Brazilian family’s work in the slums of São Paulo. It would still be more for my own personal pleasure of journaling but if used in the right way I could share my love for all things Brazil with others who may share in that passion.

“What words will express it?”
-       I think the best words to express my enthusiasm for Brazil would be to use the Portuguese terms throughout my blog depending on what the post is focused on such as pão de queijo (cheese bread), maracujá (passion fruit), brigadeiro (chocolate truffle like candy), coxinha (little chicken thigh), caldo de cana (sugar cane juice), and Caipirinha (alcoholic drink). Clearly I have an obsession with Brazilian food… and since we are on the topic of food… this leads me to the next 2 questions…

“What image or idiom will make it clearer?” and “Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”
-       If we take my food example, for instance, I could post pictures of each of the words I described above. This gives you, the audience, an idea of what I’m talking about both visually and literarily. Before, it’s just words on a page, but with pictures the idea comes to life and is made clear. 
  *Pão de Queijo*Maracujá
*Caldo de Cana

To make sure the image is fresh enough, you can add filters to the pictures, links to a recipe embedded in the text, and even do a comparison of a quality (professional) picture online next to a personal picture of your own end result. It can be tricky to do a comparison though if you are not as artistically inclined as others (see Pinterest Fails below).

Now that we’ve examined the 4 Essential Questions to Ask, here are a few of Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick’s “Tips” to keep in mind when using social media.

            - Be Bold: speak your mind if you find something important to share. “My
theory is that if you’re not pissing people off on social media, you’re
not using it right” (45).

            - Be Brief: Depending on the type of social media, keep the length of your
posts to a minimum (46).

            - Be Thankful: Embed a link to your sources to send traffic their way “as an
act of gratitude” (46).

            - Be Visual: Always try to include a picture, graphic, or video. If something
catches someone’s eye, they are more likely to click and read (47).

            - Be Organized: Use bullets or numbers when there is a larger quantity of
information (Example: I am bulleting this very section) (49).

             - Be Sly: Check out my title on the blog. This explains everything… it
                    catches your attention but leaves you asking for more… what are those 4
questions? (50)

            - Be Found: Use #hashtags to connect posts. This is self-explanatory in our
culture today. Most people use them everywhere. Mine would most
likely be #instafood #yummy #foodporn for my obvious food
obsession. (50-53)

            - Be Active: Post regularly on whatever social media site you’re using but be
aware of “casual vs. hard-core” posting habits. (53)

            - Be Multilingual: Learning to translate an article from one language to
                    another or in my own experience, sharing terms in both English and
                    Portuguese, is definitely an advantage for most people to increase their
                    potential numbers online. You could have followers of both languages
                    who are eager to learn about the issue from either direction or
                    perspective (65).

Hopefully, this information isn’t too overwhelming and you are able to use the “Tips” provided. I know I have found them useful in this very post. Try and see if you can find each tip utilized throughout the post. The only one that might not be used is the “Be Active” because this is the first post. If you are interested in more information on Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick, check out their website at

I hope you enjoyed stepping into this journey with me and I look forward to being a part of yours. Happy Blogging!