When I published the article a month or so back about my home-made newspaper from the Blizzard of 1978, I realized that there were a few good lessons that I could take away from my early efforts and apply them to blogging today.
The first and only volume of the Hodnett Hawk. February 8, 1978.
…So, from the mouths of babes come 7 tips for better blogging and digital marketing.
1) Good typography is still important: By using ALL CAPS for the masthead, your eye is immediately drawn to it. This was my first introduction to the hierarchy of text (and I probably just didn’t know how to turn the caps lock off.)
2) Branding is important: The alliterative branding of the “Hodnett Hawk” was important for me to one day be able to sell the company to a giant media conglomerate one day. I would have gone with the Hodnett Herald but that would have created brand confusion with the Boston Herald.
3) Never bury the lead: Perhaps because I was shut in, I chose to use “Stuck at home” as the headline and push the part about “Many Accidents,” and even “People were killed” down further into the story. That would never cut it in a newsroom today.
4) Stay focused on people: The good thing I did was that I didn’t focus the story on the science of the storm, or about how it looks. It’s about how it is affecting people. Once when I was pitching a story for Stanley Tool Company I had an editor tell me “hammers don’t buy magazines…people buy magazines.” A lesson I still try to follow.
5) Use headlines that draw pictures: “Snow, it Fell and fell and fell.” Admit it, you can picture yourself looking up and seeing snow falling on you, can’t you? Are you trying to catch a snowflake on you lounge?
6) Mistakes can be distracting: I didn’t know how to use the white out back then, so I just erased a whole sentence with a pencil. Mistakes hurt the over-all presentation and it’s something I have to constantly remind myself.
7) People love tips and tricks: The “Hints” section that would have been a perfect place to sell ad space for bottled water (rather than filling up your bath-tub.) It’s still one of the best ways to drive traffic on a blog (see what I did there?)