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Blog Like A Pro!

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/

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Blog Like A Pro!

  1. 1. Blog Like A Pro! An Introduction to Blogging by Lucy A. Snyder www.lucysnyder.com
  2. 2. Why blog? • 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 programs/events image credit: Christian Schnettelker
  3. 3. What sites do bloggers use? WordPress: – Wordpress.org – Wordpress.com Blogger.com Tumblr.com Typepad.com Google+ … and many other sites!
  4. 4. How do you promote a blog? Social media sharing: • Twitter • Facebook • Other blogs Email sharing/Email lists Web searches • Include relevant keywords to improve Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  5. 5. 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
  6. 6. When brainstorming blog posts ... Always ask yourself: • Is this interesting? – Who is it interesting to? – How can I make it more interesting? • Is this useful? – Useful to whom? – How can I make it more useful? image credit: Hobvias Sudoneighm
  7. 7. Basic Anatomy of a Blog Post • Title • Image(s) • Blog Content
  8. 8. Post titles are CRITICAL! Your title is possibly the most important part of your post. • 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
  9. 9. 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 them.
  10. 10. 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 Whole Life! • 5 Ways You Are Depressing Your Pet Penguin
  11. 11. 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 Super Easy" • 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!"
  12. 12. 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
  13. 13. Be honest ... which would YOU click on? Pedagogically Sound Electrophysical Techniques for Improved Student Cognition: A Case Study Or ... You Won’t Believe What This Teacher Did To Her Students’ Brains!
  14. 14. Reality Check 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 interesting narrative. • Help readers identify themselves as the people the post was written for. • Cue readers that clicking on your links will be worthwhile.
  15. 15. 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. Suggested rewrites: • Education is ALL about DESIGN! • How Great Course Design Turns You Into An Agent of Change • Ten Ways Great Teachers Use Design
  16. 16. 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. Suggested rewrites: • Are Your Online Students Disconnected? Re-engage Them! • 10 Great Ways To Engage Online Students
  17. 17. Is it a legitimate tactic to think of compelling titles and build posts around them? YES!
  18. 18. 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
  19. 19. 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:
  20. 20. 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
  21. 21. 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:
  22. 22. Image Resources • 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 Flickr: – https://www.flickr.com/commons – https://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/ • If you use something: – Make sure the licensing allows for use in a non-commercial blog post – Credit the artist/photographer - always!
  23. 23. 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!
  24. 24. Make sure the post looks good! • Keep paragraphs short and readable • Use graphics and videos – They add visual appeal – A picture can be worth 1,000 words – They break up text • Proofread! – Typos and other errors undermine your message
  25. 25. 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!
  26. 26. 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 range. • SEO tactics mean wordiness; they can increase traffic but reduce readership. image credit: James Royal-Lawson
  27. 27. Engage Readers! 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
  28. 28. 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 posts. • Female bloggers often face more criticism and push-back.
  29. 29. 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
  30. 30. If you found this helpful, please check out my book! http://bit.ly/WriterSurvival

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