Successful Blogging

I read a great “help blog post” yesterday titled “10 Maxims of Successful Blogging“.  I really enjoy reading posts of this type and I’ll often use them as inspiration to do a little reflection on my own habits and how I measure up.  So, here goes…

1. We live in an increasingly information-dense world. The only way to stand out is to dig down deep and bring your own story to the world. Your point of differentiation is you. You have no competitors.  Write a blog post that only you could write.

This made me smile.  As I mentioned recently to someone, nobody could write like this.  They would probably be much more literate.  The “me” that writes this is a rural and proud of it, computer science teacher and now hobbiest, district computer consultant, photographer wanna be, always reading and would like to think always learning.

2. The biggest challenge to blogging isn’t having the time, the ideas, or the resources to do it. It’s having the courage to do it. It takes guts to put yourself out there in front of the world. You can’t learn that. You just have to do it.

I totally agree with this.  I have no doubts that my thoughts and rants may not be universally accepted but they do reflect my experiences and thoughts at the time.  If I’m wrong, convince me.  I’ve always felt that sharing and refining your thoughts is helpful to personal growth.  I’ve worked with people who know they’re always right and sometimes feel sorry when they just keep on digging.

3. Stick to a theme. You don’t want to confuse your readers. It’s possible to use your other interests to tell your story but pick to a theme and build an audience around it.

I’m bad with this.  Just take a skim through my posts and you’ll find education, technology, formula 1, family, teaching, and goodness knows what else.  I always thought that the unpredictable blogger was an interesting one.  I’m wrong by this maxim.

4. There is no greater gift than when somebody takes their precious time to leave a comment on your blog. Never take that for granted. Love on your readers.

I’m wholeheartedly behind this.  I watch the statistics as they come though and really appreciate it when you drop a comment here, on Twitter, or on Facebook.  My biggest challenge is deciding whether it’s important to comment on each one.  I’ve always felt that the original post should contain the major content and just enjoy the way that it creates interaction after it goes live.

5. Be positive.  Lift people up. Negative blog posts are like seeing a car wreck. You might peek out of curiosity once in awhile but you certainly don’t want to see that every day.

I would like to think that I’m positive.  I hate going by blogs where there is venom spewed from beginning to end.  You just know that it’s not going to lead to productive conversation.  If someone posts negatively, you’re going to have a challenge making them see the positive side.  The flip side is a little easier.

6. Even the most talented and popular people in the world get criticized. If you attract criticism, you’re provoking thought … you’re doing job. Stay centered. Overall, the people in the blogosphere are very kind and supportive.  If you do good work, you will be rewarded.

I’ll vouch for this.  The readers that drop by here ARE kind and supportive.  And, when we actually get to meet, those awkward first steps of acquaintance are already breached.  You just know so much about each other already.

7. If you consistently create content that is RITE — Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining — you will be creating shareable, conversational blog posts. Of these, I believe the most important over time is “interesting.”  Boring is death to a blog.

I think this is why I mix up the topics of my blog.  I’m always trying to write “interesting”.

8. The most important part of the blog post is the headline. As people scan headlines, it better be a great one that gets attention or nobody will even make it to your first sentence. The second most important part is the first sentence. Don’t waste people’s time. Tell them why they are there with you today.

I remember that from Grade 5, I think.  You can’t beat a good title, open with a strong sentence, do you writing, and then wrap it up with a conclusion.  If memory serves me correctly, good writing was described as a sandwich with a top, a bottom, and the filling.

9. The most effective way to build community is to become part of other communities. You have to give to get. Find a few other like-minded bloggers who are just starting out and support each other through sharing and comments. You have to actively work to build community, just as you work actively to build content. Spend some time building your network.

Absolutely.  We have a great network of educators that interact daily on Twitter.  I like to support the Ontario Educational Blogger by giving shout outs on Fridays.

10. The hardest part of blogging is beginning. Think about any difficult work task you have faced. It may have seemed daunting at first but over time you built a competency and it becomes easier. Blogging is no different. You just have to start and commit to it and it will become easier (and more fun) over time!

My most difficult part of blogging was to find the right platform.  At the time that I started blogging, I tried to toe the party line and use the platform that my employer provides.  I then moved and had to decide on Tumblr, Posterous, Blogger, or WordPress.  In actual fact, I have blogs on each of the platforms.  Because you’re here and sticking with me, you’ll know that I settled on WordPress as my main platform.

Well, that was therapeutic!  Thanks, Mark Schaefer for the original post for the inspiration for this post.

I’ll turn it over to you, reader.  Do you agree with my self-assessment?  I’ve got a thick skin.  Let me know your thoughts.

If you’re blogging with your students, do you see this as an activity for the students to reflect on their blogging experiences?

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12 thoughts on “Successful Blogging

  1. Thank you sharing your experiences and insights. This is one topic I have no personal experience with, yet am full of desire to gain. I constantly read blogs and recommend them, but rarely comment, rarely probably not accurate enough, almost never would reflect my frequency, so your number 4 struck a cord! I haven’t begun my own blog for some of the same reasons you outlined above. When I do begin, which I’m sitting on go, I hope to apply what you’ve shared. And for now while apply your #4 suggestion!
    Appreciative-Ashlee

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  2. Doug, thanks for sharing this. I always find your posts informative, practical, appropriately geeky and laced with a charming sense of humour. It is my first read most mornings. Your insights are always appreciated!

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  3. My students have been maintaining a blog sharing their opinions of their learning experiences. Though we promote it with families very few take the time to respond to their children’s work, videos, or opinions. I feel that blogging provides a platform for students to share their voice and comment on their learning. An open dialogue with the community is an essential component of our students’ growth and learning.

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  6. Doug, I appreciated reading the blogging tips with the added bonus of your self reflections. As a fairly new blogger, it reinforced my courage to put myself out there. It can be scary.

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