I don't consider myself a blogging expert (or even a blogger most of the time), but this is my 840th blog entry here in 3 and a half years with more than 360,000+ visitors. I have about 400+ people who read me in an RSS reader and 90+ "Google Followers" and I have placed in the top ten in the education category of the Weblog Awards the past two years. So when asked to share my tips for educational blogging this is what I can come up with:
The most important thing to understand is that a great blog is created by having great content!
- Be very clear on what your employer's policy for blogging is ahead of time and if you are applying for a new job and you have an established blog put it on your resume and mention it in interviews, you want your employer to think of your blog as the asset it is
- If you choose to use photos of people you need to have a clear understanding of rules, policies and ethics around photo releases and confidentiality and follow them.
- Let your content stand on its own, there is no need to "push" every blog entry by sharing it, stumbling it, digging it, starring it, rating it, highlighting it, plurking it, tweeting it etc. It will likely only annoy your friends who probably already read what you write anyways. Especially if they find it in their "People I Follow" section on their RSS reader and on Twitter and on Facebook, etc.
- You should, however, submit your blog to blog directories and to search engines.
- By all means introduce yourself to fellow bloggers you respect and ask them to introduce your new/newish blog on their blog.
- It is cool, and helpful, to mention a blog entry you wrote about a topic that comes up in the course of a conversation, be it in real life or on a social network (and provide a link).
- Be careful of swag, there is nothing wrong with free stuff per se, just be clear with your readers what your stand is around what you get for free, your bias around recieving free items and so forth (full disclosure).
- It is ok to stand up for yourself if you find other bloggers plagerizing your content without link backs or respect for copyright or CC, just be aware it is a small bloggin' world, think about a note to the author asking politely for a link back and citation before you write a rant on your blog.
- Decide on your policy for things like approving/censoring comments, how frequently you post, advertising, etc and try to stick to it; your readers WILL notice if you change something, no matter how small, so be sure to explain if you do once you have been doing things a certain way for a while.
- Work to build a community of bloggers, especially "blog-alike bloggers" (i.e. Special Ed. Bloggers, ESL Bloggers, Pre-K Bloggers, Tech Ed Bloggers), read other blogs, take time to discover other blogs, comment on each others posts, mention each other in posts, link to each other on blog rolls, e-mail one another and chat online
- Know why you are blogging, there are many valid reasons for starting a blog and many valid reasons for continuing to blog, it is important to stay clear on why you continue to do this work.
- Know your target audience, who are you trying to reach and what do you want to share with them?
- Bigger isn't always better, you don't need fancy widgets, a domain name, a logo, a social networking site or anything like that to have a great blog - you only need great content (on the other hand there is nothing wrong with any of those things, it is just that they don't make a great blog, content does).
- On the same note more entries isn't always better either, clogging up someone's RSS reader with 16 blog entries that could have been 3 blog entries might be a better idea
- Blog because you like writing, sharing and teaching!