9 Tips for improving your blog and inspiring user feedback

Many newspapers, television programs, radio broadcasts and other media outlets by now have associated blogs, but there are a lot that can use some help. Here are some tips for making the most of the online space:

1. Include exclusive content
The internet is a great place to include content that, in the interest of space/time, didn’t make the broadcast/newspaper/magazine. Exclusive interview and candid outtakes are a great addition to any blog and can be touted in the original story.

2. Ask open-ended questions
The best way to encourage reader participation is to ask questions that will get the audience talking. This works well with commentary or opinion posts where the reader is itching to share their own view. This can be as easy as asking readers for their input at the end of each post. When readers do comment, respond. It is important that the blog feels like a community and that readers feel like they are a part of that community.

3. Make your blog pop
Are you still using a stock template or does your blog have a unique design that stands out? Even if your blog is gritty, hard-news investigative journalism it could still use a little bit of color. Find a designer to give your blog a makeover or find a unique template that suits your topic.

4. Create eye-catching headlines
Your headline can be the difference between a visitor taking the time to read a post or clicking on something else. A great headline is not only eye catching, but should include relevant keywords that tell the reader what to expect from the post. Headlines — and the entire post for that matter — should be optimized for search engines to ensure the highest number of visitors possible.

5. Be concise
Many journalists and professional writers, when given the opportunity, will ramble. Blogs are not the place to publish that 50,000-word article that got canned. Keep your posts short and to the point. Break up long blocks of text into shorter ones and include headers when necessary.

6. Make use of your RSS feed
Most blogs include an RSS feed that users can subscribe to via a feed reader or email. Make the link to your feed obvious: include an RSS icon somewhere on the page and encourage readers to subscribe to your content. Page views are important so include the first paragraph or two in your RSS feed and a link back to your blog to read the rest.

7. Be a social bookmarker
Social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us, Twitter, Reddit, Digg allow readers to share your posts with others who may not otherwise see your content. For example, check out the “Share This” or “Twit This” button at th end of each 10,000 Words post.

8. Interact with other bloggers
With the millions of bloggers out there, chances there are other bloggers that are that covering similar issues. Find out who these bloggers are and send them links to some of your posts that they may find interesting. There are many local bloggers who are eager to trade links with an established media organization and may be doing so already.

9. Post consistently…
…and not just when news breaks. Having a inconsistent blogging schedule dissuades readers from coming back. If you build it, they will come!

Some examples of great blogs include Dallas Morning News’ Cowboy Blog, Ted Allen’s Top Chef blog (Bravo) and VH1’s Best Week Ever blog. Have a media-affiliated blog that you love? Share it in the comments.