The Dos and Donts of Smartphone Blogging
Blogging used to be a pretty standard exercise. In between tasks at work we’d write posts, both long and short, and then post them immediately. But that was 10 years ago. In the last decade blogging has evolved into a more mature platform. We’re doing more and more with our blogs, and we’re doing them in more ways. One thing that has changed dramatically is where we access our blog. It used to be just from a computer. Now we can take our blog management mobile with smartphones. Nearly every blogging platform has a mobile app, which makes it easy to blog from wherever.
There are, however, some dos and donts when it comes to smartphone blogging. Here’s a quick rundown.
Table of Contents
1. Edit posts
This is perhaps the greatest function of any mobile blogging app. We all make mistakes from time to time. If our readers like us, they’ll email us with a gentle note making us aware of these mistakes. It is our duty as bloggers to make sure that any incorrect information is revised in a timely manner. Using a mobile blogging app, such as WordPress, means we can make these changes even when we’re away from the computer.
As a bit of unsolicited advice: put the correction at the top of the post, not at the bottom. Make the correction in the proper place, of course. But atop the post make a note saying that a previous version of this post contained a bit of incorrect information. Note that it has since been corrected. Your readers will appreciate you for the honesty.
2. Moderate comments
Comment moderation varies greatly from blog to blog. Some allow relatively free commenting. Others have guidelines in place. Increasingly common is the idea of registration for comments (it helps keep the trolls out). One method I’ve seen many blogs use is requiring moderator approval for the first comment from any user. No matter how you handle commenting on your blog, chances are you need to moderate from time to time. Mobile blogging apps are perfect for this.
While comments are an important part of any blog, growing or established, moderation is nothing but a rote task. It’s best to reserve such a rote task for when you’re idly occupied — on a train, while food microwaves, on line at the store, etc. That not only helps pass the idleness, but it helps make use of otherwise useless time.
3. Conduct research
While writing posts on a smartphone is not recommended — see No. 1 under Do Not — bloggers can still start the information-gathering process while on their phones. Again, there is so much idle time in our lives when we’re checking our smartphones anyway. Why not take that opportunity to start working on your next post?
Instead of playing Words With Friends or Angry Birds, go through your RSS reader. Read what’s going on in your niche. Run a few google searches. Even send IMs with colleagues and friends. There’s inspiration to be found everywhere. It’s easy enough to email your research to yourself, too, so you’ll have it in front of you when you’re ready to start writing.
1. Write posts
It might be tempting, sure. Mobile WordPress apps do give users the ability to write a post from scratch, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. Even a BlackBerry, with its physical keyboard, won’t do. I have the new AT&T BlackBerry Bold, which has the best keyboard of any BlackBerry to date — and the BlackBerry has an excellent keyboard overall. Yet the act of writing a full post is nothing short of tedious. It might sound like a decent idea. After all, you can save some time by writing while commuting. It just doesn’t make for a great experience.
You’re far better off writing on an offline laptop and then transferring the file to your smartphone via a USB connection. Then you can copy the article and paste it into WordPress. That might involve a few more steps, but it’s far more agreeable than writing the thing from scratch on a smartphone.
2. Edit HTML
As with any programming language, HTML can break with one false character. Use a single quote instead of a double and you could have a broken string of text and a link that runs the rest of the page. Put the wrong letters inside a table and you could have cells all over the place. There are just so many ways that HTML can go wrong. Even when we’re tying from our desktops and laptops we can make mistakes. Yet when we’re typing from our smartphones the risk of mistakes runs even higher. Editing HTML rom a smartphone, then, is not recommended.
It might be that some HTML needs a little tweak here or there, which is fine. But making any large scale changes to HTML code will often lead to more problems than it solves. This goes especially for the iPhone, which doesn’t provide precise text movements. Even with the trackpads on BlackBerry and some Android devices, it’s still not worth the hassle.
3. Make any non-post, non-comment tweaks
Just because smartphones have WordPress apps does not mean you have to use them. Most modern smartphone have powerful browsers that can easily log into the back end of WordPress or any other blogging platform. From there smartphone users can do any task that a desktop user can do. But, as before, just because the feature is available doesn’t meant that it’s a good idea.
Blog design, like HTML (it even involves HTML), is a tricky process. There are times and places for everything. Chances are, your roadtrip is probably not the best time to be making design tweaks to the blog. Nor is it time to add new items to the navigation bar, or clear up some more ad space. There’s just too great a potential to mess up something. It’ll be doubly hard to fix it.