Know your blogging terminology

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Do you want me to look at the new blog about a dance troupe? Or your post about a dance troupe?

There’s a world of difference. Understanding the difference shows that you know your way around this form of digital media.

As blogging becomes more commonly used by nonprofits, it’s important that you both know and sound like you know what you’re doing.

Here’s a guide to some of the terminology that trips people up and gets in the way of blogging successfully for your organization. They can be taken for granted that you understand them. You may even know the term but not use it properly and possibly not execute it properly as a result.

What is a blog?

A blog is a collection of posts (also known as blog posts).

A blog normally focuses on one subject or theme. Each post relates back to that overall theme or subject in some way.

If enough posts relate back to your blog’s key purpose in a similar way, then they fall under the same “category.” When you start blogging, you might identify what some of those categories might be so that you can assign each post a category (possibly more than one). You can also create a hierarchy of categories.

So is the purpose of your blog to write about the arts? And have posts about different arts topics? Topics that may fall under categories like dance, visual arts and drama?

Or is your blog about dance? With posts about different aspects of dancing? With categories such as dance troupes or styles such as lyrical, jazz or African.

Or is your blog about your dance troupe? With posts sharing information about the troupe, why it exists, what it does and how people can be involved as audience, donors or volunteers?

So a new blog would be a new collection of posts with a common subject, theme or purpose.

A new post would be the freshest contribution to that collection of posts–better known as a blog.

Combine a blog with your website

Originally, websites and blogs were separate types of digital media with separate locations. Now they are commonly together.

Combining a blog and a website seamlessly is a best practice. Doing so is an excellent way to ensure your website visitors have access to all the key information about your organization and at the same time regularly provide new content that helps educate visitors or better yet engage them.

A website without a blog quickly becomes static. It might attract people when they need relevant information once or twice–but not frequently. But having a blog doesn’t help if you don’t use it enough.

Combining a blog with a website can create some confusion for folks who don’t work with digital media frequently because they don’t distinguish between the website and the blog and how they work differently.

Pages are different than posts

For example, people tend to think of the different destinations on the internet as being pages.

Certainly a website is commonly thought of as being a collection of pages. And that’s true when talking about the traditional definition of a website.

So you might think that to add to your blog that you create a “page.” But you really want to create a “post” because pages are different than posts. They have different functions and are used differently.

What is a page? What is its function?

Pages tend to be relatively static. While they can and should be updated or revised, they typically feature content that is high level or evergreen (i.e. always relevant).

Content on pages is the vast majority of what you find in a website’s main menu including the drop down menus.

In fact, the first website for an organization was typically an electronic version of its brochure. Often with the same set it and forget it mentality until the print brochure required updating.

Over time, website content has ballooned (in a good way) so that it contains the information that would be in a comprehensive guide/booklet about an organization. So each page shares a different aspect about the organization, how it helps, how it can be helped and information relevant to its key audiences such as details about the different summer dance camps offered. If well organized, written using plain language and easily navigable, this kind of website can be a tremendous, cost-effective, high impact way to make information available.

What is a post? What is its function?

Blog posts feature content that is relevant to your organization and its desired audiences that is not part of its core content or most important high level information.

Posts tend to be topical and that may make them more relevant at a certain period of time. Their value to readers may even have a time-limited shelf life. Though some feature evergreen content.

The best posts have a perspective, share an opinion, have a point of view–meaning they go beyond sharing facts. That’s not always possible for a nonprofit organization or may not be desirable if advocacy is not key part of how you deliver your mission.

Even if that’s the case, a blog post can be a great way to share more details  or tell stories about your organization or your cause. More information than is desirable on a website page. Perhaps a look at the week in the life of a dancer or how a choreographer creates routines.

Essentially, a blog post is a way to add content to your website’s knowledge base–preferably in a way that builds your organization’s reputation as a leading source for relevant, timely information and/or views.

The nature of blog content means that the standard way of organizing website content with pages and menus doesn’t fit. So it has its own organizational structure that features blog posts.

In a blog, the most recent content is most desirable by regular readers. They want to be able to quickly find and read what’s new–kind of like using a news website.

That means that you want the most recent posts easily found on your website’s main page and preferably also on other pages (if not all other pages). You’d also be wise to have your blog as a menu item to take people to a constantly updated feed of your most recent posts or summaries of them.

The categories mentioned above help readers to find other posts with similar content that may interest them.

Posts can also have tags. These are similar to categories in that they help group similar content but tags are more specific than categories. They also don’t have any hierarchy like categories do. Tags can also be helpful as a search engine optimization tool.

For example, your category might be ballet dancers. Your tag might be Frank Augustyn or Rex Harrington. If you write enough about Rex Harrington though, you probably want to make his name a subcategory of the parent category “ballet dancers.”

Blog posts best when readers are engaged

While a blog doesn’t need to be open to comments, a great advantage of blog posts over website pages is having a comment section at the end. That allows for you to engage and interact with your readers. Ideally, you can build up a community of readers that also regularly interact with each other through the comments inspired by the post.

While you can open a website page to comments, the best practice is not to do so. The evergreen type of content is rarely suited to having comments permanently below. Better to turn comment inspiring content into a blog post!

What blogging questions do you have?

photo credit: Skley via photopin cc