December 7, 2017

By Cat Dalton

Seems a bit meta, right? In all seriousness, blogs are a great campaign tool to have — even after you get elected to office. I’ll break down why you should start one, what should be in it, and places you can host it.

Why Blog?

The greatest thing about blogs is that you can be in-depth in a way that you can’t be with social media. Social media is a good platform to share links to your blog, but it’s not the best place to be organized with your ideas. Users can’t easily access old posts the same way that they could with a blog site.

So what do you post about in blogs? The answer is anything you think your voters care about. You can react to current events, post updates about the campaign trail, focus on a specific aspect of why you decided to run for office, etc.

Blogs are also a great place to end with a call to action: you always want to end your post imploring the reader to volunteer for your campaign and/or make a contribution. Everything you post about your campaign should have the goal of strengthening your voters’ support for you.

What Does a Blog Look Like?

The issue of the readers’ attention

Throw (most of) your English class lessons out the window. Yes, you can use informal English. Yes, you can use first person. Yes, you can use contractions. Campaign blogs are used to show a more detailed view of the campaign and the candidate, and writing similarly to how you speak makes you more approachable and down-to-earth. Just be sure your grammar and spelling are correct.

Try to aim for 500–1000 words. Why? 500 words are just enough to make the blog worth posting and 1000 words are about how much a reader will actually read in a sitting without losing their attention. Of course, this is by no means a solid rule — feel free to write whatever length feels good to you.

Always avoid big chunks of text: these are hard for readers to pay attention to and actually read all the way through. It’s best to keep paragraphs to 2–5 sentences each.

You can even have a paragraph be one sentence to help emphasize your point and make that sentence stand out.

Another way to keep your reader’s attention is using headings to break up your ideas. It makes it clear which topic you’re discussing, and easier for readers to skim the post if they don’t have time to read the whole thing.

Always, always, always have at least a second set of eyes proofread your posts. You as the writer can reread your own writing a dozen times and still miss errors that another person could catch by reading it once.

Where Can I Write a Blog?

There are dozens of blog platforms to choose from, especially ones that you don’t have to pay for. A few to start with are Medium, WordPress, Blogger, and Weebly. There are other platforms, both free and with monthly fees, that you can explore. Choose a platform that’s right for your campaign.

Be sure to include a link to your blog on your campaign website. Some website platforms allow you to host blogs on the website itself, which is a great option to keep in mind when choosing a campaign website host.

Whenever you make a post, it’s a good idea to share a link to all of your social media accounts, especially Facebook and Twitter. It increases the number of people the blog will reach and better the chances of someone actually reading what you wrote.

If you can, allow people to be able to comment on your blogs. This fosters an engaging environment with your supporters and potential voters — it’s another way for you to be accessible to the public.

One last note about formatting: as more and more people rely on their phone for news and engagement, mobile-friendly websites are more important than ever. Most blogging platforms are already mobile-friendly, but if you have control over this aspect, it’s good to ensure that your mobile layout looks as good as your desktop version.

Do I Have To Write Every Blog?

Of course not! As the candidate, your voice is important, but you can have other people write blogs too. Staffers, volunteers, special guests — all different kinds of people can contribute to your blog. Just make sure you or your communications staff double check that the content meets the campaign’s standards and somewhat follow your blog’s style.

It’s best to have a somewhat consistent voice. Your reader doesn’t want to read an informal blog post one day and then read a very formal post the next.

Finally, think hard about whether or not a blog helps you accomplish your goals. Why are you writing? Chances are, on most campaigns, you’re not going to get a ton of readers, but if you believe it helps spread your message or helps you communicate more effectively, by all means do so. Just make certain you are using your time as wisely as possible.

If you’re still unsure of what a blog ought to look like, check out other candidates’ blogs to see what kind of content they post. And you can always follow the NDTC’s other posts for more inspiration!

Communications Associate with the National Democratic Training Committee. Interests include but are not limited to: American politics, coffee, cooking, and 80s music that missed the mainstream.