As an avid blogger and marketing student, I was excited to serve as a Canadian Weblog Awards juror. I knew I could be of help and figured I’d pick up a couple of tips along the way. What I didn’t know is how much the judging process would teach me about building an effective blog.
What Are The Canadian Weblog Awards?
The Canadian Weblog Awards (CWA) distinguishes itself by ranking blogs solely on content and design. Votes and popularity don’t count. In fact, to ensure none of the jurors could be influenced, we agreed to keep our appointment a secret until all the rankings had been completed and submitted. If any of us had revealed our role, we would have been removed and our assigned blogs re-evaluated by another juror. This meant each nominated site was ranked by the same ten content and design criteria:
- Usability and accessibility
- Intelligibility and clarity
- Transparency and authenticity
- Attention to detail
Being a new visitor to most of my assigned blogs, I experienced the impact of each of the ten design and content elements first hand. After I’d completed a dozen or so, I began to wonder about my own blog. A quick time out to view it with fresh eyes showed me a few things I could improve. By the time I’d reviewed some forty different blogs, I had a totally new understanding of how blogs create value and a solid plan to up my game.
Lesson #1: Make It About Them
I counsel job seekers to see their resume through a new lens; one that recognizes that the resume is not about the candidate, it’s about the prospective employer. I’m not kidding. If you want an interview, you need your resume to be seen as a solution to the prospective employer’s problem. Same thing with a blog post. Unless you’re writing a personal journal, your blog should be focused on issues that are relevant to your intended audience. What do they care about? What do they want more of? Can you help them get the information and the solutions they’re looking for?
Lesson #2: Make It Easy
We bloggers have way more digital savvy than the average online reader. We’re also more forgiving when stray HTML produces unexpected formatting or wonky pages. Make it easy for followers by critically assessing pages for readability and function. Is the comment button prominent? You can turn off a new reader in a nano second by making it hard for them to navigate the site or submit a comment.
Lesson #3: Make It Real
People read blogs to connect with real people. They come to learn or laugh or get new ideas. They’re not expecting to be sold to or marketed. They’re also not expecting a cardboard version of reality with no personality or passion. I used to sanitize my articles so as not to turn anyone off — I stopped that a few years ago and gained many readers as a result. For some good examples, check out what these top bloggers are writing about:
I thoroughly enjoyed my involvement and recommend it to anyone with an appreciation for blogging or writing. If serving as a juror isn’t your thing, perhaps you’d like to nominate a Canadian blogger for this year’s award. At the very least, check out Elan Morgan’s TEDtalk. She’s the amazing founder of the Canadian Weblog Awards.