How to write a blog post

We have selected a few practical tips to help you in making your decision on taking the pen (or rather the keyboard…), and start a blog post the HEPEX community wants to read.

In summary: do it short (~500 words; 1 page), with one idea to convey and 1-2 nice illustrations. Write as if you were talking to a friend and prompt your colleagues to discuss your point through the portal. Include a small ‘further reading’ or ‘related links’ at the end for more info about your point.

1) What can I write about?

This is the easiest part: speak honestly and openly about a subject you are passionate about. Write something that matters to you. Identify a goal that you want to achieve with the post before you start writing it. Think about your audience: who will want to read your blog post and why? Define what you have to say and how you will say it: the main idea you want to convey, illustrative facts, achievements, needs and challenges for the community.

A post in HEPEX can be about:

  • a flood or a drought event (check these, for instance)
  • a pre- or an operational system you’re working with (see, for instance here)
  • an interesting forecast you had to deal with,
  • an opinion on some aspect of the forecasting enterprise, community or science,
  • the dissemination of a project related to HEPEX topics (see examples here)
  • something interesting you heard in the news related to the HEPEX topics,
  • a literature review (for instance, that Introduction chapter of your PhD thesis that you can hardly publish in a per-reviewed journal),
  • a recent presentation you gave in a conference (see here for an example),
  • a recent paper you have published and want to discuss further with the community (check here, for an example)
  • an overview of a workshop or seminar you attended and want to share with HEPEX (see this post, for instance)
  • an interview, an announcement, etc.

2) How should I write? Should I use figures, photos, tables? How long should it be?

Your writing style is as important as the content of your post. Some tips are:

  • be concise, focus on one idea (one topic per post, as a general rule): do not put too many ideas in one unique article, but rather split it into several posts if needed; you can do a series of posts in HEPEX if you want,
  • be clear (as if you were talking to a friend), and prefer using active voice and casual writing in short paragraphs (no more than 2-3 sentences, as a general rule),
  • remember you are writing to a large audience of hundreds of HEPEX members, interested in meteorology, hydrology and water resources, who are operational forecasters, forecast users, scientists, young researchers, modelers, and decision-makers, and that you are not writing a technical report or a scientific paper (a blog post is a conversation!),
  • pick a short and catchy title (basically, a headline of 10-12 words) for your article that captures the essence of its content,
  • start your post with a nice paragraph that summarizes what you intent to say (first impressions matter!). Your opening line is the one that will draw people deep within your post, and will engage your readers,
  • develop the rest of the text adding depth to your point or calling for action on a HEPEX-related topic (make your point!). Use sub-titles in bold, if needed, to separate sections,

Also:

  • your blog posts can include links within its content. They are used to cite an original source of information or to provide additional information beyond the scope of your post. You can use links to external webpages, other HEPEX blogs, your institution, etc.
  • add some 2-3 illustrations, photos, figure or tables, where pertinent. The images you use should enhance your blog post and provide a visual relief from text heavy articles.

A blog post in HEPEX usually has 500-800 words (~1 word page), and should be written in English. It can have one or multiple authors.

Important:

  • everything on the HEPEX blog is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 unless marked otherwise;
  • be careful not to violate copyrights, or be accused of plagiarism or stealing content from another blog or website. If what you want to discuss is already in another paper or website, make sure you provide appropriate links that refer to the original sources;
  • do not post items that are confidential, rude, in any way unprofessional, or that contain personal information about other people.

4) I have written a nice post, but now how to get it published online?

HEPEX publishes its posts twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, with some few exceptions when announcements or other important matters need to be communicated. The HEPEX blog runs all year around, with only a short break at the end/beginning of the year.

To get your post published, you have to contact one of the HEPEX co-chairs, regional chairs or website administrators (check for ‘who is who’ here). You can send your text in (preferably) a word format, with its associated figures or photos, and they will do the formatting and any minor editing (e.g., English misspellings, external hyperlinks). The final text will be submitted to you for final approval before it is scheduled for publication online.

Note that, normally, between your submission and the publication of the post, some 3-4 weeks may be needed, with this ‘waiting line’ being variable according to the period of the year.

5) Once it is published, should I do something else?

Once your post is published, we advise you to check every now and then for any comments left by your readers and respond to them. Besides showing you value their comments, this also help in building the sense of a HEPEX community. Take time to dialogue! The side bar on the right hand side in the HEPEX website allows you to quickly check for recent comments.

You can also update your published text whenever you want/need using the comment box or contacting the HEPEX website administrators.

The more you promote your article, the more people will read what you have to say, like it, and provide you feedback. People will learn what you are currently working with and can contact you directly in case they have projects that may interest you. You can give a high ‘usefulness’ impact factor to your blog post. You can add the links to your posts in your email signature, CV, personal webpage, institutional newsletters, cite them in your other articles and presentations, and forward them to your students and colleagues.

Finally, come to the blogosphere and join the HEPEX contributors!

Leave a Reply