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Should You Be Live Blogging?

Have you ever considered live blogging? This is when you blog about an event, as it is happening. With the Emmys this past weekend, everyone from The Hollywood Reporter to Gawker had a reporter posting the action.

A fun one was done recently by Australian journalist Matt Cleary. It seems an Australian rugby player was drafted to the San Francisco 49ers American football team. Cleary may not have known all the rules and nuances of American football, but this stream of consciousness read is a great example of how to make live blogging engaging for the reader – even after the event has passed.

Live blogging was first embraced by tech websites, most often covering tech conferences. Some, like Gizmodo, have special live sites permanently on their blogs.

Is Live Blogging Right For You?

So, is this something you should try? First of all, it really depends on your blog. I can think of a number of blogs this would work with – a fashion blogger for example live blogging a runway show at New York Fashion Week. Or maybe a food blogger giving the rundown of a cooking demonstration.

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Another great opportunity would be if you blog about a particular subject matter and attend a conference of interest to your readers, like the tech conferences. But I can also think of a number of situations in which it could go terribly wrong – a travel blogger live sharing their delayed airline flight experience could be pretty tedious.

Question why you want to live blog in the first place. Is this something that your audience will enjoy/appreciate and will it add value to your blog? Is the timing right – how many people will be available to follow along OR is this something that has the potential to be an informative and useful read after the event is over? I found Cleary’s posts entertaining even after the fact as I could picture what was happening on the field and his attempts at commentary were amusing.

Prepare Properly

Proper pre-planning is the key to a successful live blog. First of all, start promoting the live blog in advance. You want regular readers to know it’s happening so they can be sure to tune in. Also, it’ll help set the stage for any reader, those who might check in the day of the live blog, or at a later time and wonder what all the insane posting was about.

Be sure to write an introductory post, ideally before the event and set it to publish when the event begins. This way, you don’t have to worry about creating a post with event information you already know.

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Now, if you are live blogging from an event, be sure to have your logistics planned ahead of time. Where will you be sitting; what, if any, internet access will there be? Make sure your devices are fully charged and be prepared with a backup if an outlet isn’t within easy reach.

Get in touch with an organizer and let them know what you plan to do. They might also help promote your live blog – it’s free publicity for them after all.

Adding Media

Are you going to include photos? If you are at a fashion show or cooking event, I would think images would add a lot to your blog. A conference – maybe a few would suffice. And don’t forget to share your live blog across all your social platforms. Upload some photos to Instagram and send a few update Tweets (with links back to your blog, of course.)

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Technology is wonderful and there are some live blogging platforms available. CoveritLive is a popular one or check out 24LiveBlog or LiveBlogPro.

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Perfectionists, beware. You are going to make grammatical and spelling mistakes and probably poor word choices too. You can choose to go back and clean these up later, or leave them. It adds a bit of reality to the posts. Mention in your introductory post that your fingers can’t always keep up with your brain and you apologize for anyone offended by your bad grammar.

End Wisely

Do a wrap-up post. This can be a longer blog, after the event where you can include more details, useful links, impressions and evaluations that aren’t always possible to formulate when you are in the moment.

This will also be good for readers who missed the live blog live, but are still interested in the event. If you like to shoot video, posting it in your wrap-up blog is a great way to give readers another view of the event.

If you aren’t sure you are ready to do an entire live blog, do a test run on Twitter. You’ll often see people giving short updates from an event and the shorter, quicker, easier format will give you a slight idea of whether or not you want to tackle a big blog next time. Be sure your Twitter feed is present on your website.

Live blogging certainly isn’t new and news organizations have been using it for a few years now to cover breaking news, political events and of course, sports. In this older Guardian article, Blog Editor Matt Wells looks more closely at some of the pros and cons of live blogging in journalism. He goes so far to say live blogging “is almost certainly the most important journalistic development of the past year.” Would you agree?