One of the things I enjoy when writing or commenting on a report is the interaction with other inmates. When I write one, I do my best to respond to all the comments. (see example in one of my ride reports here
It's great how a "community" can start building around a report this way. Some of the folks who've commented on my reports have gone on to become friends of mine. I've even formed business relationships with some of them.
One of the things I've seen people do and that I've emulated is the practice of introducing a photo with text at the top of the photo, then following the photo with the rest of the story about the photo. This works well in this online format because you are always scrolling from top to bottom. I think it also builds a bit of anticipation about the photo before the full photo is revealed through scrolling.
Another good practice is to vary the photo size depending on its purpose. Smugmug allows you to do this through parameters in the embed link. If the shot is beautiful and needs to be shown large to get the full effect, it's OK to pump it up to a screen width or height, but no more. Link to larger versions if you want. If the shot is just there to set a context or keep the story going, make it smaller.
End your posts with cliff-hangers or teasers for the next post. E.G. "In the next post, we bite the dirt for the first time" to foreshadow an accident.
Take a lesson from reality shows. They are always about the people and what they're going through. So talk about what you're going through. If you're uncomfortable with that, interact with and get to know people along the way and report what they're going through. A glimpse into someone else's life, especially if it is foreign to yours, is often fascinating.
I use MS Word to write my ride reports. I've written a couple Word macros and connected them to keyboard shortcuts to make it easier to paste in the HTML code for photos and other links. Instead of typing out the HTML tags and pasting the URL in, I just copy the URL from smugmug and then hit the shortcut and it surrounds the URL with all the required HTML and pastes it into the document.
The problem with smugmug and most image hosting sites, is that you don't know what the URL of your image will be until you've uploaded it into the site. This means that at some point you need to go online and copy and paste all the links into your report even if you're composing it offline in MSWord or another editor. Smugmug has said they will address this at some point, but I have still not seen a satisfactory solution. If you create your own hosting account on any of the many hosting services out there (I use GoDaddy), you can create folders to your heart's desire and upload photos using FTP. The advantage is that you can know before you upload them exactly what the URLs of your photos will be. With this knowledge, you can completely compose your ride report offline including all the appropriate photo links before even uploading your photos. Then, when you get to your next internet connection, you can batch upload all your photos and then copy and paste your update into your ride report. This is especially useful if you're on the road and would rather compose your report someplace more pleasant than an internet cafe and then only use the internet connection to do the actual upload. Of course, you lose all the advantages of Smugmug such as automatic resizing, photo albums etc. I use both approaches.
The other advantage of composing in MSWord is the grammar and spell checking. IMHO having correct grammar and spelling makes a report more pleasant to read. You can break the rules but it's best to know what they are in order to break them effectively.
Thanks for this thread. It's been a great read!