An introduction to blogging and writing blog posts. This is aimed at educators, instructors, and related professionals. References the blog at the International Institute for Innovative Instruction: http://engage.franklin.edu/i4/
Blog Like A Pro!
An Introduction to Blogging
by Lucy A. Snyder
• To raise awareness of yourself, your
department, or your organization
• To show people what you do
• To demonstrate your expertise (individually or
as a group)
• To promote your
image credit: Christian Schnettelker
What sites do bloggers use?
… and many other sites!
How do you promote a blog?
Social media sharing:
• Other blogs
Email sharing/Email lists
• Include relevant keywords to improve Search
Engine Optimization (SEO)
Why do people visit blogs?
• To be entertained
– An engaging story
– Something amusing
– Enjoyable subject
• To get useful info
– Solutions to problems
– Expert advice
– New techniques
– Product reviews
image credit: Filipe Ferreira
When brainstorming blog posts ...
Always ask yourself:
• Is this interesting?
– Who is it interesting to?
– How can I make it more
• Is this useful?
– Useful to whom?
– How can I make it more useful?
image credit: Hobvias Sudoneighm
Basic Anatomy of a Blog Post
• Blog Content
Post titles are CRITICAL!
Your title is possibly the most important part of
• The title must grab a reader's attention
– Or they will not click through to see what
wonderful thing you've written
• Titles are the only thing readers see on Twitter
– Twitter is a major means of promoting posts
What can we learn from clickbait?
• Clickbait (AKA “linkbait”) is infamous for
presenting sensational, often-misleading
headlines in order to get people to click on
Fake Clickbait Samples
• 3 Things You'll Regret If You Didn't Go To Franklin University
• A Dad Tries To Sell A Rutabaga. First You'll Be Shocked, Then
You'll be Inspired!
• 29 Kittens That Look Like Kanye West
• One Weird Trick For Cleaning Your Ears
• This Video Will Prove You've Been Breathing Wrong Your
• 5 Ways You Are Depressing Your Pet Penguin
Why Clickbait Works
• Some promise straightforward amusement
– "29 Kittens That Look Like Kanye West"
• Some promise novel, low-effort, useful information
– "24 Must-See Diagrams That Will Make Healthy Eating
• Some play upon readers' fears/anxieties
– "5 Ways You Are Depressing Your Pet Penguin"
• Some trigger our craving for a good story
– "A Dad Tries To Sell A Rutabaga. First You'll Be Shocked,
Then You'll be Inspired!"
In all cases ...
• Our interest is piqued
• We know immediately
if the post is for us
• We have an expectation
of what we’ll get
The title gives us a reason
to click through for more
Be honest ... which would YOU click on?
Pedagogically Sound Electrophysical Techniques
for Improved Student Cognition: A Case Study
You Won’t Believe What This Teacher
Did To Her Students’ Brains!
We obviously can’t (or shouldn’t) engage all the techniques of
clickbait. Our reputations are at stake!
But through improved blog post titles, we can:
• Heighten interest by promising useful information or an
• Help readers identify themselves as the people the post
was written for.
• Cue readers that clicking on your links will be worthwhile.
Instructional Design Blog Titles
“It’s ALL about DESIGN”
• It's short, eye-catching, and compelling!
• But we don't really know what we're going to get. What's all about
design? Is this for educators, or advertising folks, or ...?
– We can’t assume that people will immediately associate the #i4 tag with
education or instructional design.
• Education is ALL about DESIGN!
• How Great Course Design Turns You Into An Agent of Change
• Ten Ways Great Teachers Use Design
Instructional Design Blog Titles
“A Class Learning Community – Is it Enough?”
• Good structure and length! Piques interest with a question.
• But what does the author mean by a “class learning community”?
And what would it be enough for? A reader might not be cued as to
what this link would offer.
• Are Your Online Students Disconnected? Re-engage Them!
• 10 Great Ways To Engage Online Students
Is it a legitimate tactic
to think of compelling titles
and build posts around them?
When Creating Titles...
• Aim for 60 characters or less
• Aim for 7 words or less
• Keep in mind:
– The first three and last three words of a title register
most with readers
– Readers will be seeing links to your posts in a feed of
other unrelated posts
Speaking of feeds ...
always include a graphic!
• Pictures vastly assist promoting blog posts.
• If posts lack preview images, they look like this when
shared on Facebook:
Posts without pictures are overlooked!
To make sure links to your posts are eye-catching:
• Include an attractive picture with your post
– Attractive both in an aesthetic sense and in the sense
of intriguing readers
• Be sure it fits the subject matter
– A confusing or ugly preview image is worse than none
– Be sure it's something you're allowed to use
Respecting Image Licenses
Avoid using stock photo images with visible
watermarks, because then it looks like you've
stolen something you have no right to use:
• Do look for free-to-use photos and other images.
– One database of free images: http://www.pics4learning.com/
• Look for copyright-free or Creative Commons licensed photos at
• If you use something:
– Make sure the licensing allows for use in a non-commercial blog post
– Credit the artist/photographer - always!
Once they’ve clicked through...
Make sure your post is the best it can be!
• Employ a strong opening
– Your first sentences/paragraph matter!
• Write in a conversational style
– Avoid specialized jargon
– Avoid overly formal language
• Be excited! Be exciting!
Make sure the post looks good!
• Keep paragraphs short and
• Use graphics and videos
– They add visual appeal
– A picture can be worth
– They break up text
– Typos and other errors
undermine your message
Content is Queen
• Make sure there's real substance to your post:
– Tell an interesting story about a solved problem, or
– Give your reader genuinely useful information
• Make sure there's a point to your post
– Why would someone read this?
– What’s the take-home message of your post?
• Do present tips, advice or solutions
– Don't simply introduce a situation/problem and then ask
readers what they think ... go further.
• That said, do invite discussion!
Aim for substance without wordiness
• 500-1000 words is a good length for a post.
• I4’s most popular
posts have been in
the 550-800 word
• SEO tactics mean
can increase traffic
but reduce readership.
image credit: James Royal-Lawson
Try to include a call to action to engage readers.
• What do you want the reader to do as a result of reading your
post? Make that clear!
Call on readers to:
• Sign up for a seminar
• Read a book
• Try new software
• Change a technique
• Leave comments
image credit: Katie at Flickr
Comments: A Double-Edged Sword
The ability to leave comments can engage your
readership more than any other feature. But ….
• Online forums inevitably attract trolls.
• It can be incredibly time-consuming to
moderate comments on controversial posts
and to reply to friendly comments on popular
• Female bloggers often face more criticism and
Recap: Qualities of an Ideal Blog Post
• Interesting Topic
• Compelling Title
• Attractive Graphics
• Strong Opening
• Engaging Style
• Cleanly written
• Short, readable paragraphs
• A Conversation Starter
• Substantial, Informative and therefore Shareable!
image credit: Christian Schnettelker
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