A Few Steps to Becoming a Great Blogger

There is a vast majority of science blogs on the web so picking a few to compare and contrast was a bit difficult. I decided to pick blogs from; Wired.com, OneWorldOneOcean.com, SciLogs.com and NationGeographic.com. Each blog that I analyzed had its strengths and weaknesses.

The blog that I found to have the greatest amount of weaknesses was Rhett Allain’s blog post on Wired.Com called “Here’s How to Solve the XKCS Velociraptor Problem With Code.” Right off the bat the article is confusing. The title has an acronym that does not have a clear meaning. The article itself was geared more towards science researchers and not toward the reader, that reader being, me, a college student. I found that Dr. Allain referenced “python,” a computer program, which sort of assumed that the reader had used the program before. Rhett Allain concluded the article by giving the reader “homework.” I felt less inspired to do this homework than I did feel compelled to complete it. On the flip side of my argument, I enjoyed how the author gave a “Buzzfeed type listical” of his step-by-step thoughts while figuring out the question posed in the beginning of the article. Also, his article was the first on the Wired.Com to catch my eye. His title included a dinosaur, which I hope everyone thinks are as cool as I do! Another aspect of Rhett’s writing that I really enjoyed was that he included hyperlinks to some of the things that he was referencing in his article.

The next blog that I read was Kirk Englehardt’s blog post on scilogs.com titled “Researchers Get ‘Fancy’ With an Iggy Azalea- Inspired Journal Submission.” This was the second blog post I did not enjoy as much as I enjoyed the next two posts. Kirk’s post referenced a video that scientists made in follow up to a request from the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters to include a video to the research article that was submitted. The post was optimistically short but lacked detail about the subject of the video. The blog by Englehardt did not have a great description of the research that the video was based upon; it more talked about who the researchers intended the video to be for (it was intended for the research community) and why the researchers chose to film the video. A positive aspect that the author did capture was the audience’s attention; he did so with the title. Englehardt captures attention in his title by adding a pop-culture reference, Iggy Azalea. Kirk Englehardt also did a good job of keeping the writing light and humorous from the beginning to the end of the post.

The blog post that I had the greatest pleasure in reading was Brent Cahill’s article, “Ocean Heroes: The Ocean Cleanup,” on OneWorldOneOcean.com. From the title of the blog it is obvious that the blog is encouraging and upbeat. Cahill structured the post around a story of a teenage boy with a dream. He follows the teenage boy through his trial and tribulations and ends the article with a “happy ending.” The blog post is short and to the point, which increases the likelihood that readers will finish reading the whole blog post. A flaw in Brent’s blog post was that there were a few grammar and spelling errors. Besides that one flaw, this blog post had the strongest reader appeal in my eyes.

The last blog post that I found to be neither spectacular nor horrible was “Finding Enough Fish to Feed Hong Kong” by Michael Lombardi on NationalGeographic.com. Lombardi’s opening sentence was captivating in that it was personal and brought the reader to the location he was referencing, like a good book. The post did a good job of addressing the problem being posed both in the title and in the first few paragraphs. Another great aspect of Michael’s post was that he incorporated his personal story with a scientific topic that could otherwise be difficult to understand. The negative aspects of the blog post were; it seemed to jump around from topic to topic a little bit, the ending was short and came out of the blue, and the article was relatively long.

Every blog post that I read had its strengths and weaknesses. The articles that I found to be strongest were the two where the authors was able to balance between writing a blog post on a topic that the general public could think after reading, “Wow I am excited to tell my friend about what I just learned” and second, explaining their research in a way that the reader could explain what they just learned to their friend.

After reading well-written post from such admired bloggers, I often times feel like I have been hit with writers block. I feel as if this is a common phenomenon that the beginner and even professional writers frequently run into. People often find it hard to put their words on paper in a manner that is captivating enough to catch the reader’s eye. So how does a novice writer become a professional? Here are some tips for doing so!

Drawing People in/ Telling a Good Story

  • Have a captivating title that is both easily understandable but also relevant to a broad audience.
    • Titles with numbers and questions tend to catch more people’s attention. Using a title with a Pop Culture reference like Kirk Englehardt did, drew me in!
  • Write about topics that are relevant/ trending in the here and now to the “Average Joe” but also to Seasoned Veterans.
    • Brent Cahill wrote about Ocean Cleanups, which is a very trending topic right now.
  • People are often drawn to both conflicting article with drama and “happy ending” articles.
    • Brent Cahill’s happy ending drew me in as a reader.
  • Personalizing your writing often draws people in. Have a human element to what you are writing normalizes you as a writer but also connects you to your audience a little more!
    • Michael Lombardi incorporated a story about traveling with his scientific research story, which kept me interested.
  • Broadcast your writing on social media; get your writing out there.
  • “Practice makes perfect”, practice writing, you will get better over time.

Being Scientifically Credible/ Accurate:

  • Do your research before writing an article about a certain subject.
    • It was very obvious that each author had done their research before writing their blog posts.
  • If you can’t find very many articles to research before hand, reach out on social media with questions about your article topic.
  • Talks to a professional or some one with experience helps to make you’re post a little more detailed and trusted.
    • Kirk Englehardt interviewed the researchers that he based his post around. I found that these quotes added content and length to his post!
  • Proof read your paper.
  • Have another person(s) fact check/ grammatically proofread your writing.

Citations

Allain, R. (2015, October 5). Here’s How to Solve the XKCD Velociraptor Problem With Code. Retrieved October 9, 2015.

Cahill, B. (2015, May 15). Ocean Heroes: The Ocean Cleanup. Retrieved October 9, 2015.

Englehardt, K. (2015, October 15). Researchers Get ‘Fancy’ With an Iggy Azalea-Inspired Journal Submission. Retrieved October 9, 2015.

Lombardi, M. (2015, October 1). Finding Enough Fish to Feed Hong Kong. Retrieved October 9, 2015.

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