Bloggers may not be journalists, but they certainly have a social responsibility to readers. As blogs become more and more influential in our daily lives, writers are being held to greater ethical and professional standards. If you want your blog to get a higher ranking and increase your readership, it’s going to take some extra work and a lot of responsibility. Here are five surefire ways to be a responsible blogger:
Watch What You Say and Monitor Readers’ Comments: As a blogger, you have to police yourself and your readers’ comments to maintain civility in the blogosphere. This doesn’t mean you can’t be frank or say what’s really on your mind, but comments should never turn into insults. Hateful comments have no place on here, and you shouldn’t tolerate it either. Despite what people say, this “policing” doesn’t take the fun out of blogging; it just makes it more civil. As a rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online. Your words are permanent and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Always Give Credit Where It’s Due: Just like journalists and other writers, bloggers cannot use another person’s words as their own and they must give credit where it’s due. Copyright laws still apply to bloggers. Whether it’s a statistic or a photograph, bloggers should be in the habit of always citing their sources. Don’t for get to give credit to the authors and contributors of your open source software and free templates, as well. This ethical writing practice will help cover your tracks and give readers a place to verify facts, if need be. In addition to citing your sources, you should also consider the authority and credibility of the site, person or article you’re referencing.
Keep Your Content Current: Responsible bloggers should always strive to keep their content current. Of course, unexpected things happen in life and you may fall a little behind here and there, but it’s important that you keep up with your blog and post regularly. Stagnant blogs offer little to no benefit to readers, and end up being a waste of your time and money, as well. Responsible bloggers will make a point to maintain their blog and stay connected to their readers. This includes responding to readers’ comments and questions, keeping the blog free of spam and offensive comments, posting articles weekly and promoting and engaging with other bloggers.
Be Transparent: Responsible bloggers are transparent with their readers from day one. Bloggers should not lie or misrepresent themselves to readers because the success of your blog depends on the relationship and trust you have with readers. In order to achieve trust among your readers, you have to be transparent about who you are and what your blog is really about. This can be achieved in a number of ways, such as talking about yourself in the “about” page or bio, and engaging with readers and other bloggers. Readers will get to know you through your posts, opinions and comments, and they’ll hold you to your word. Blogging the truth is the most important thing you can do as a responsible blogger.
Use Disclaimers: The last thing a blogger can afford to do is get caught in a lie, or worse, a lawsuit. Bloggers are generally not experts on the topics in which they write about, but rather have a strong interest in or admiration for particular subjects. Therefore, responsible bloggers will always use disclaimers to clarify that their blog is for informational purposes only, and the opinions expressed here are strictly their own and no one else’s. Disclaimers are especially important if you ever write about health and safety or offer legal advice. A comprehensive and clear disclaimer will help protect you from legal prosecution if readers were to misuse or misinterpret the information on your blog.
Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: alvina.lopez @gmail.com