As I was listening to the Newsworthy Blogging podcast from the Social Geek Radio show on my way to work, I had the desire to take notes (should have launched Dragon Dictation). While the tips from Susan Young were intended for blogging for business purposes, the ideas themselves are truly for a universal audience and apply not only to blogging but education. Below I have compiled the 12 Tips for Blogging Success gleaned from Susan Young’s Social Geek Radio blogtalk and have added some anecdotal insight.
- Purpose – What is the purpose of your blog? This is about content. Find your niche and stick to it. People need to know what to expect. Also make sure you have enough knowledge, resources, and content to generate multiple posts on the topic. (I chose Techchef4u for a few reasons. I wanted to make sure it was general enough to encompass any instructional technology I discussed but clear enough to convey the message that I enjoyed creating technology integration resources for anyone and everyone that choose to dine on them. Much like the Joy Of Cooking. =)
- Frequency – How often should you write? Susan likened blog posts to a phone call. If you have something to say, call (post a blog). If you have a valuable message and don’t just post to post, this will build credibility. (I keep a notebook of ideas for blog entries and will prioritize them based on teacher and instructional need. I try to keep it timely… Blog on Demand, if you will.)
- Good Headlines – The headline and first few opening lines are crucial to keeping reader interest and letting them know what to expect. Look to magazines with snappy headlines and borrow and adjust accordingly. (Oftentimes, I will have a vision for the entry but will not compose the title till the body is complete.)
- Keywords: This gets in to a bit of search engine optimization. She mentioned using Google to determine the percentage of people searching for a phrase (the order and arrangement of the words counts) and that these engines like fresh content (no repeats or old info) and numbers in the headlines.(While I have written a 5 part iPad series, this was more due to the fact that I didn’t want to publish 5,000 word blogs. I don’t think I have truly capitalized on the top 10 lists but want to really try and focus on these bulleted lists to drive some of my posts).
- Word Count: This goes back to adding value. There is no set length for a post. It is more about presenting a clear message… whether it be in 3 sentences or 3 paragraphs. (I tend to have to reel myself in as I want to compile and assemble all available information and research on a topic. I will spend hours searching through other posts that mention or discuss a similar topic (e.g. Flipping the Classroom) and incorporate them as additional information in my post. I need to reconcile with myself that it is okay to have a simple post … not a research analysis of a topic.)
- Grammar: Blogs are not reports. They tend to be more conversational. Don’t ramble. Present a clear, concise message that carries your writing style. (I really enjoy this aspect of blogging. Being a Leo and Italian, I naturally like to talk and love this form of media to be conversational and yet still convey my message. So much better than a static handout or info sheet).
- Reader-friendly: Readers are bombarded by media. If they see a list of 100 tips or large bodies of text… most will not commit to read your blog. Make sure it is full of white space, easy on the eyes, and something that your reader can gleen the gist by scanning. (I will typically write all of the text first and then break it up into smaller sections to make reading and searching for information a more user-friendly experience)
- Photos: include relevant images and photos that connect to the written message, break up the text, and highlight some of your personality. My goal for each post is to try to highlight Web 2.0 tool(s) (Google Squared, Big Huge Labs, Flikr Poet, Quiki, etc..) using screenshots or embed code. My intent is to ensure that everyone leaves my blog with something they can use…whether it be an idea or a tool).
- (If I just need a cool photo, I will use Morgue File.
- If I have photos that I would like to add some pizazz too, I use PhotoFunia.)
- Videos: To reach all learners and communicators, incorporate a video or vodcast from time to time to highlight multiple modes of communication. It is also a great way to attract and build rapport with your readers as this will highlight your manners and personality. Consider transcribing it for those who would prefer a text version. (I love including videos but many of them are project-based in nature, like Sock Puppet Shakespeare or Signs of Math. I am looking forward to starting to sprinkle my blog entries with personal vodcasts. For now, these are still scripted. I am too much of a perfectionist to get these in one take.)
- Humor & Creativity: You have the podium. Are readers engaged enough to read on? Drop the jargon and be yourself. Weave in your personality and style. Ask open-ended questions to engage your reader and promote discussion. (I tend to like to play with words and be conversational so the media of blogging has been a great outlet for me to test new recipes and ideas.)
- Comments: Respond to and acknowledge comments. No one wants to be ignored. We want our message to be well-received. Just because you didn’t receive any comments, doesn’t mean that nobody read it. (Just because someone didn’t fill out a comment card doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy their meal or experience. It was just a few weeks ago that I learned about “pingbacks” and started seeing other blogs hyperlink to mine as I had done to theirs. I am hoping I get the opportunity to have a more personal level of communication, but for now I am just enthused that people are visiting the kitchen and sampling the dishes… hoping I will soon receive a few comment cards.)
- Reposting & Repackaging: If you are going to repost a blog entry, it can’t be dated. Freshen it up a bit. Consider repackaging your top 10 blog entries or a series as an ebook or PDF document as a resource for teachers. (I will typically repost an entry if I have revised or added to it (e.g. added Bloom’s Taxonomy of Apps to Hot Apps for HOTS post). Yet I had never considered creating ebooks for various topics. I love the idea as well as the accessibility of repurposing it. Hoping to have a Joy of Cooking: the iPad edition released towards the end of summer.)
I am very excited to have the opportunity to be a guest on Social Geek Radio Thursday June 23rd at 8pm. We will be discussing cool technology for kids (apps and Web 2.0 tools) that they can utilize on these hot summer days.
Check out Miguel Guhlin’s post for more blogging tips. (Thanks, Miguel, for the tips and the feature.)