By DB Ferguson of the No Fact Zone
Content. Ah, now we’re getting to the fun part in our series on The Art of the Fan-Based Blog. After all that technical mumbo-jumbo, we finally get to talk about the one thing we want to talk about – our fandom!
Before you jump into the deep end rattling on about your favorite star, movie, television show, cartoon, hobby, or celeb, think through the flow of your site content.
I like to think of myself as a news reporting blogger with a very small “beat”. I treat information that I am reporting like news pieces, or opinion pieces, very similar to stories that run on actual news sites like CNN or Huffington Post or the New York Times. Having this mindset helps set the tone for my pieces and gives me an excellent mental template for the direction to take new pieces of information that I am about to blog.
It’s good to feature regular blog posts readers can expect on a daily or weekly basis. Sometimes the news cycle for a fandom goes bone dry, leaving you news-less. Make sure you have a backup of story ideas and posts ready so you can publish a few posts a week to guarantee you have content, and keep the interest alive. I recommend a weekly summary of posts (excellent for Sundays when the news cycle is dead), as well as a weekly State of the Fandom type post.
On No Fact Zone, we have a weekly post that gives a run down of all of the guests for the week on ‘The Colbert Report’, which we post on Mondays. If you happen to think that your subject is particularly handsome, it never hurts to have an Eye Candy-type picture spam post for filler on those painfully slow news days.
Finding your blogging voice is one of the hardest lessons to learn as a beginning fan blogger. There’s a fine line between appreciated enthusiasm and, well, being just a little creepy. It’s always best to err on the side of conservativeness when reporting a news story or creating an opinion piece. Don’t get *too* objective, though – make sure that your personality shows through. Yes, this is a blog about your fandom, but it’s also a blog by you and your personality is part of the package.
How much news are you going to aggregate from other sources? It’s a very common technique for fan blogs to pull information from outside sources into your blog. Not many fans have the access needed for true breaking news, so aggregation is very common. How are you going to do it? Will it replace content or add to the content?
About 60% or so of the content on No Fact Zone comes from aggregators. Wherever you get the dirt, the scoop, or the breaking news, you have to get it from somewhere. You can’t be at every concert, or every taping, or every studio session? You aren’t part of the paparazzi. You’re a fan and have limited resources. So where do you go for your sources?
Simple: research, research, research. Make Google News your friend. Add Technorati, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking and microblogging services to your research resource list. I also recommend Daylife and Addictomatic, which aggregates Twitter, blogs, Digg, news, and all kinds of great information into one simple page for you to review.
A fantastic source of breaking news is your star’s publicity department. Often, a show or a network or a record company will have a publicity department that features regular press releases featuring the official word on new projects, publicity photos, and contacts for further information. Check out the official web sites for your object of fandom, and see if you can find a contact page for the press or media. Technically, with your new blog, you are becoming a reporter covering that celeb. It’s also excellent to use the official PR staff as a first point of contact for questions about official information such as show times, release dates, and appearance schedules.
Twitter Search is invaluable, which can be seen on Addictomatic. More than once a story has broken there first for me and I blogged about the appearance or event before the news even hit the wire. When I see multiple tweets about a new event, often I’ll post a simple 1-2 sentence post that says, “I’m receiving news that Stephen Colbert was on the scene at the XXX event, I’ll post more as it develops.” Then I use that post to keep all the breaking news in one spot as it develops.
Content is king on a fandom blog. Make sure that you create a mix of both aggregated news as well as opinion pieces, making sure that you develop the distinct voice that will help your readers know what to expect out of your blog. Find a few main news sites that you can frequent, and you’ll soon learn which sites feature the best breaking news for you to feature on your blog.
In part two of this section on fan-based blog content, I’ll cover the things you need to know about managing all the content you find about your fandom, including information and stories about your star, their fans, and the fandom community in general. There can be a lot of content to manage and prepare for publishing on your blog, so I’ll give you some tips to help overcome the content challenges.
By DB Ferguson of the No Fact Zone
DB Ferguson is the webmaster of No Fact Zone, a Stephen Colbert-centric news blog and fan site. DB is a reporting analyst by trade, and finds that working with a blogging team that includes a lawyer, a CSI, and a database manager makes for some very thorough research for the content of her blog.