The Complete Beginner's Guide to Live Blogging

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World mapWith the explosion of the Internet and social media, live blogging is rapidly gaining popularity both among the broadcasters and the audience. It is generally done either through a specialized standalone software or through a plugin that integrates with an existing system. Today, we're going to learn the basics of live blogging. If you've never done it before, read this guide to get started, instantly. Businesses and all the individuals offering products and services and journalists can take advantage of live blogging to reach their target audience in real time. This guide also tabulates several tools and solutions to help you live blog with minimum hassle. Before we start, I must emphasize an important point. You, as a blogger must be extremely comfortable in the language you're going to use for live blogging because we don't get the chance to quickly edit or correct our updates. Another expert advice is to do few dummy live blogging sessions with your friends before attempting the real one to avoid any mishap and problem.

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Live blogging can be compared with a live radio or television broadcast covering an event.

Both these communication mediums involve sound and visuals to portray the events' happenings while live blogging does the same thing in textual form.

Because this is a beginner's guide, I'm assuming you've not yet started live blogging and want to give it a try for the very first time.

Some people regard micro-blogging as a form of live blogging though I differ with their opinion. Live blogging is a prearranged blogging action that runs in parallel with the event being covered while micro-blogging is an informal and random way to communicate with the followers.

Let's get started and see what live blogging is all about and how to do it like a pro!

Live Blogging Basics

Because live blogging is all about covering an event in real time, it is broadly divided into two parts. Both these parts are necessary for both new and growing blogs. Widely popular blogs and websites can afford to skip the first part as their huge audience is already following the updates and are aware of their future live blogging coverage.

  • Event announcement - This obvious and recommended step ensures your followers and subscribers are aware of the upcoming live-blogging schedule and the event it is going to cover.
  • Event coverage - The second important part involves live blogging covering an event as scheduled previously.

Following are some of the important guidelines one must follow while live-blogging an event. Whether you're doing it for the first time or have already tasted it before, taking care of the things mentioned below can ensure everything goes smooth and the followers get the best possible experience.

  • Aggressively announce blogging schedule - There's no point to live-blog unless you have a decent number of followers watching the updates in real time. Take advantage of your presence on various social media channels and do your best to spread the word about the schedule to ensure you get the maximum possible followers.
  • Start up early - Live blogging always starts at least 15 minutes before the event is started. You can even start it half an hour before the event schedule. This will ensure the followers can easily start following the updates before the actual event starts.
  • Build the momentum - Needles to say, you need to have excellent command over the language since live blogging doesn't allow review and edits for whatever text is posted. Start with introducing the event and the important associated entities with it.
  • Credit shard media (wherever required) - It is quite common to share different types of media along with text updates during a live blogging session. Whenever you do that, do not forget to credit the owner if it was taken from an external source.
  • Engage with active followers - Unlike traditional blogging, followers are more likely to interact with you during a live blogging session. You must keep an eye on the comments section too to ensure you reply to the feedback and questions of the readers in a timely manner.
  • Do not overwhelm followers - New bloggers live blogging for the first time can get carried away during the updates flooding the update stream. Keep a check on the frequency of your updates so that the readers can follow the stream easily.
  • Wrap up nicely - And last but not the least, end the session with thanking all the followers and naming couple of most active readers you've noticed during the entire session.
  • Share the transcript - Though it is not mandatory, uploading the transcript of the entire posts and interaction with the readers in exportable or downloadable format can help offline readers follow the happenings at their convenience.

In a nutshell, the success of live blogging depends on how interesting are your updates and how actively you interact with the followers keeping them glued to the live updates. It's an art that can be mastered after few live blogging sessions.

Tools of the Trade

Now that we've got a fair idea about live blogging essentials, it's time to look at the tools and applications bloggers use for live blogging. There is a number of plugins, apps, and tools that can help you live blog in a better and easy way. Let's check out all of these options.

You can either use a plugin for your WordPress-powered website or can opt for a platform entirely dedicated to live-blogging. We'll look at both the options now.

Arena.IM plugin for WordPress
Arena.IM - This is one of the best live blogging plugins available for WordPress users. It has tons of features and is immensely flexible to help you get hold of live blogging on WordPress. I've thoroughly tested this one on a test blog and found it surprisingly easy-to-use and powerful.

The best part is that it is completely free with no restrictions. Following are some of the features of this popular live blogging plugin.

Real-time publishing - This is one of the obvious prerequisites of live blogging which is easily fulfilled by this plugin. All the updates are published in real time so that the followers can easily track the update stream.

Easy social media embeds - As I mentioned earlier, media associated with the event being covered is an integral part of any live blogging session. This plugin allows you to quickly and easily embed different types of media in the update stream and that too in an SEO-friendly format.

Real-time analytics - It's not just the blog updates that happen in real time, but the associated traffic statistics are also generated in real time. This way, bloggers can easily keep an eye on the server load in case you're experiencing a large number of following.

Live chat system - To support real-time engagement, it also supports real-time comments to quickly respond to the questions of the followers. This adds more value to the entire live blogging session giving your followers a reason to follow it diligently.

Mobile-friendly updates - All the live updates and comments are fully responsive and render perfectly both on tablets and smartphones. This greatly increases the probability of getting more audience from these platforms.

Live Blog open source software
Live Blog - This is an open source live blogging platform that can be used in a standalone format or can be directly integrated into your website. Its free software bundle is good enough for most users who're new to live blogging.

The best part of using this service is the help and support forum that can help you get started in no time. Following are some of the useful and powerful features of this excellent live blogging application.

Easy integration - No matter which content management system you're using, simply copy-paste the code to seamlessly integrate this live blogging platform anywhere on your website.

Self-host on your server - Technically sound users can easily install this live blogging system on their own web server to take control over every aspect and feature of this software.

Strong social media integration - Apart from facilitating easy sharing on various social networks, it also provides an option to quickly drag and drop social media updates directly within a live blogging session.

Multiple readymade themes - The default software bundle comes with several pre-installed themes to choose from. This way, you can select the best design that matches closely with your website design.

Multiuser support - If you're covering a large event, make a team of live bloggers to take advantage of this powerful feature.

LivePress live blogging plugin
LivePress - The name of this plugin clearly suggests what it is made for. This premium live blogging solution is good both for the newbies and for the seasoned players. You'll need to register for an account to use this plugin.

Make sure to always try a live blogging plugin in a test environment to get familiar with all the features. Let's learn more about the powerful live blogging features supported by this plugin.

Blog directly from social platforms - This intuitive plugin enables you to directly live blog on Twitter or Slack. It's a bonus for users having a large following on both these platforms.

Deep post editor integration - It seamlessly gels with the default WordPress post editor and lets you manage the entire session with ease without any need to leave the edit screen.

Use custom hooks and filters - Power users can use a filter to easily integrate the live blogging timeline to a custom post type. One has to simply add the code to the theme's functions.php file.

Enable/Disable session with a click - When you're ready for the event coverage or whenever you want to close the session, a single button click is all that is required.

Supports remote authors - One can dynamically add or remove remote authors during a live blogging session. All the tweets of added authors are automatically added to the blogging timeline.

24liveblog platform
24liveblog - No matter how large is your live blogging audience, this platform can take the load of thousands and thousands of followers in a single live session. Its free plan gives the power you can take advantage of to easily connect with your live blogging audience.

It's one of the most feature-rich and user-friendly live blogging platforms available to professional bloggers. Let's see some of its features.

Integrate with any website - Like other popular live blogging solutions, this one too supports easy integration in the form of embed code you can use anywhere on your blog.

No limit for uploads & concurrent users - The good thing about this platform is that even a free plan doesn't impose any kind of limits on the number of users and on the number of photo uploads.

Multi-author support - If you need help from multiple bloggers to cover a big event, use the multi-author feature to keep the audience updated about all the happenings.

Custom themes - Live blogging timeline theme can use both premade themes as well as custom themes to give the best viewing experience to the target audience.

Comments & voting support - To engage with the followers, the platform provides both commenting and voting features which makes the entire live blogging session, lively.

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