1. Proof. Proof. Proof!
You will lose points for even minor grammar, structure, and spelling mistakes. Read your post before publishing. Then read it again once it’s posted.
2. Stick to your beat.
For example, if you are writing about the Philly music scene I don’t want to see you posting about the MTV Video Music Awards. Yes, it’s related to music, but not PHILLY music. Make sure your posts are as specifically related to your beat as possible.
3. Give your readers something they can’t get from a simple Google search.
Go deeper than the most basic information. Link to websites, essays, news articles, pictures, and information related to your beat that take some time to find. Give your readers a reason to visit YOUR site.
4. Get personal.
A lot of you are providing a lot of interesting information but you’re holding back on sharing personal anecdotes and observations from the trenches of your beat. Remember, there’s a person behind this blog you’re writing, so use that to your advantage.
5. Proof. Proof. PROOF!
6. I want to see more original reporting/context.
Get quotes. Do an informal survey. Go out into the world!
7. Be more precise with your leads.
Let your readers know (specifically) what this post is going to be about somewhere in the first two paragraphs. For instance, “The other night my friend Melissa and I were bored with the usual dining options at Rowan, so we wandered around Glassboro for nearly two hours looking for something different to eat for dinner. Feeling hopeless we finally just stumbled into Landmark (don’t judge!), and to our surprise we discovered the unique meal we were looking for—a cheeseburger topped with pineapple and bacon! Afterwards, stuffed to the gills with fried pork, beef, cheese and tangy citrus, I started thinking: What other strange and delicious meals might be lurking in the corners of South Jersey? Well, here’s what I found…”
Review AP style – In general, avoid capitalization. Use a capital letter only if you can justify it – like proper nouns (specific person, place, or thing), compositions (books, movies, plays, poems, etc), first word in sentence, or formal titles.
9. Numbers and numerals
Review AP style – In general, spell out whole numbers below 10 (ie one to nine), use figures for 10 and above. Check AP manual for money and sports numbers.
10. Ages and hyphens
Example: 20-year-old Jim vs. Jim is 20 years old
11. Word usage (come on people, you should know this by now)
it’s vs. its
their vs. they’re
your vs. you’re
effect vs. affect
12. Punctuation always goes inside quotes.
13. Link. Link. Link. You should aim for at least five hyperlinks per post. And make sure your links work and are formatted properly.
14. Put images at the top of your post. It draws the reader in.
15. Formatting quotes
Jane felt like the luckiest girl alive when she smiled and with a glimmer in her eye told me, “This is the best day of my life. I think I finally found true love. I feel like a million bucks.”
“This is the best day of my life,” said Jane. “I think I finally found true love. I feel like a million bucks.”