Starting or reflecting on a blog

I love these types of posts.  I’m certainly not new to the concept of blogging but advice like this wasn’t available when I started.  Blogging has become part of many people’s way of thinking, reflecting, organizing, remembering, promoting, and selling.  The selling part is an integral part of successful businesses and there’s lots of advice available for them too.

I’m not starting a blog or starting a new blog, but I still think it’s an interesting exercise to reflect on an existing blog with metrics like you see in a post like this.  “5 Things You Need To Know Before Starting a Blog“.  After all, don’t we want to be happy with what we’re doing?  I know that I do.

I’ll take the “5 Things” from this post and see how I think I fare.  And, if you have a moment or two, please comment and let me know if I’ve got it right.  If you’re a blogger yourself, I challenge you to analyse your own efforts.

1. Having a plan is essential for making your blog a success

I’ll admit that I didn’t have a plan when I started.  I was in a workshop at MACUL where the presenter was extolling the value of blogs as the 21st writing tool for students.  It seemed to make sense at the time so I started.  Very slowly I started.  It was tough to come up with ideas at first.  Then, I realized that I was doing it wrong.  I wasn’t a traditional student where the teacher would lay out a topic and individuals or groups of students would write about that topic.  I had to come up with ideas on my own.  Once I realize that, blogging became easier.  Then, the light bulb went on.  I needed to have quick and easy information about a resource.  In the past, I would have had to start searching and relearning.  But, I had already done the research and blogged about it.  I went back to the post, re-read it to refresh myself and I was good to go.  That moment has stuck with me ever since and remains the number one piece of inspiration today.  I may not need the information right now but maybe some day…  I now have a plan.  I’ve always learned by writing as my reinforcement.

2. Your blog is more likely to succeed if it is social

I like to think that I do this right.  It’s posted here; I try to make sure that it gets posted at 5am daily and is automatically sent to Twitter to let the world know about it.  I have learned the value of scripting so immediately, it’s cross posted to Facebook.  I also share it to Google+ and I have a Pinterest Board as well.  I supposed that it might result in increased readership but the real value for me is that it can generate comments and thought from others.  I also like it when my ideas are challenged or confirmed.  The real challenge is staying on top of things.

3. Content is king!

In the beginning, I tried to have a very narrow focus of ideas.  Quite frankly, that became difficult to maintain and come up with variations on a theme on a regular basis.  I think that’s the death knell for many would-be bloggers.  There was a moment that I thought – why do I need to focus on just one topic?  Why not write about whatever comes to mind.  That turned me loose to write about anything that caught my interest and I live/blog by that mantra today.  It released me to try and experiment with various things.  It also enabled me to do regular posts that I enjoy like “This Week in Ontario Edublogs”, or “Whatever happened to …” or “Response to Spammers” or “Interviews”.  It also reinforced the notion that blogging doesn’t have to be a painful writing exercise, it can be fun.

4. You may have to learn basic Search Engine Optimization

I probably don’t do this very well.  I do enter categories for each blog post and I try my best to come up with a good title.  I try to use words with each post that are descriptive and get to the point that I’m trying to make.  Does Google like me?  I’m not sure.  That’s about the extent of what I do myself.  But, I have good friends.  People like @NoelineL, @avivaloca, @vickyloras, @DavidFifeVP, @jen_aston, @ProjectPupil and others who regularly reshare my posts.  That’s the best optimization a person could want.  I respect their efforts and, by inheritance, the efforts of their networks to maybe decide to click over and read the post themselves.

5. Relationships matter

Relationships do, in fact, matter.  That may well be the number 1 personal benefit.  I enjoy it when folks take the time to comment or retweet a reference to a blog post.  I’ve mentioned many times how lonely education can be.  Social media and the connections/relationships that it affords is something that education has wanted forever.  I sit back and am humbled with the relationships that I’ve made over the years and can’t help but thank social media for being that big enabler.  There’s something so impressive when you go to a conference and immediately strike a conversation with someone you’d never make a connection without the impact of social media.

I think that these five are a great start but there’s a few more that I can add.

6. Commit to posting regularly

How many blogs have 1 or 2 blog posts and then stop?  Or you wait for months for the next sharing of thoughts from someone?  If you’re going to be successful, you need to be regular.  Whether it be daily, weekly, commit to a schedule.  It sounds difficult until you actually do it.  Those that care know that it doesn’t have to be perfect or the definitive word.  I think that’s part of the educator’s mindset that can be a blocker.

7. It doesn’t have to be in print

If you didn’t take keyboarding in Grade 9, never fear.  Typing a blog is but one way.  If you have a phone or tablet, create your own blog using audio/video media.  It can be your source of content if keyboarding isn’t your thing.  You just can’t easily correct mistakes.

8. Take risks

Blog about something you’re just learning about.  You don’t need to be an expert to have an opinion.  And, being wrong can be a great way to start a conversation.  (or so I’ve heard)

9.  Reciprocate

If someone is good enough to drop by your blog, visit them back.  There are absolutely wonderful thought sharers who do a great job.  Just like you appreciate the comments, thoughts, or analytics on your blog, they do on theirs as well.  Looking for a place to start?  Try Ontario Edubloggers.

10. Look for a niche not already done

Continuing on the thought of Ontario Edubloggers, why not look for something that nobody has done.  For me, I’ve alway had a list of my favourite blogs available on this blog.  That list became pretty big and yet I wanted to continue to share links to other blogs.  I stumbled onto Livebinders and saw an immediate use.  Sure, I could have had a big list but visit this list and you can read for hours without ever leaving the site.  Or use Diigo to create a post automatically of what you’re reading and sharing like my OTR Links?

There you have it.  My current reflection and thoughts about blogging.  Thanks to Lifehack and Dmytro Spilka for the original post.

What are your thoughts?  Do I have myself analysed correctly?  What about your own thoughts about blogging.

Please share below.

5 thoughts on “Starting or reflecting on a blog

  1. One quick thought: I notice the assumption that a successful blog is one which has a lot of readers (lots of clicks). I think it’s worth noting that a blogger’s [primary] goal might be different.
    Related to this is the assumption that the goal of a Twitter/Instagram/etc. account is to acquire followers (my students tell me this). Instead it might be to develop a meaningful (not large) network.
    Thanks Doug! Good stuff again!


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