Teaching Blog 101: Creating Content for Your Blog
Have you ever wondered what makes people come back to a blog? Is it the platform, the colors, the design, the template, the cutesy characters on the sidebar that draws in thousands of visitors? The answer is no, it is none of those things. The number one reason why people return to blogs is because of the content. If you are new to blogging, or perhaps have fallen into a bad habit, it is good to remember that people visit your blog because they want to hear from you. Check out the dos and don’ts below to get you started on creating some wonderful content for your blog.
Be Original: Face it – nothing in teaching is a “new” idea. While it may be new to you, chances are that it has been used by someone else at some other point in time. The same holds true for blogging. There are no “new” topics. Just google “Pinterest” to see how many articles have been written, for example. Each is about the same general topic, but each one is slightly different. The key to creating original blog content is to use your own voice to share the information. You are not going to have the same writing style or tone as any other blogger – and that is a good thing. If every blog you visited was written in the same voice, would you ever visit more than one?
Be Timely and Relevant: Being timely and relevant is key to successful blog content. If you know that everyone in third grade is going to be teaching adjectives in March, be sure to publish your article on adjectives before then. Not only will you have time to be indexed by search engines, but there will also be time to pin and promote your article. While it is completely okay to showcase activities that you have just completed, be aware that the article may not get a lot of hits until the following year when teachers are searching for lesson ideas. If you have the ability and desire to do free downloadable material, that is fine, but it is not a necessity when your content is relevant and timely.
Be Aware of Your Audience (and Yourself): If you have an education blog, chances are that your audience is going to be comprised mostly of other educators. Your blog content must appeal to them. If it does not, you are going to have a difficult time establishing your blog as a reliable resource for teachers. It is also very important to remember that anything you type online lasts forever. Just like you teach your students, if it is not appropriate to say in public, do not say it online. The blogosphere is actually very small when it comes to online reputations and you should always remember to conduct yourself in a way that makes you (and your mother) proud.
Not to Do
Make It All About You – All the Time!: There is nothing more boring than finding a blog that is filled entirely with self-promotion. “Buy my lesson plans!” “Download my templates from such-and-such store!” If that is all you post about, you are going to lose visitors fast. No one wants to go to a blog and have the only content be self-promotion. It is perfectly fine to promote your teacher-made products in the sidebar and when you create new, relevant materials. It is not fine to only post about your new products and not have a significant amount of content to keep readers interested and engaged.
Steal: There are some big no-no’s in blogging and stealing content and images is one of them. If you are new to blogging, or perhaps have forgotten or never knew, using other people’s images or content without their express written permission is stealing. Plain and simple. That includes images you find on Pinterest, Google Images, and anywhere except a Creative Commons site. Flickr has a wonderful Creative Commons section to their website that allows users to upload images that can be used freely on blogs and in other medium provided that attribution is included. That means that you must cite your source. Taking others’ content is just as bad. You would not accept plagiarism from your students, so do not accept it from yourself. If you are unsure as to whether an image can be used, email the original photographer and ask. Do not just assume that pictures online (especially on Pinterest) are free for all to use and pin – even if you link back to the original pin or source.
Creating content can be both exciting and frustrating. When you are starting out you may worry that your content is not good enough, interesting enough, witty enough, engaging enough, or even worthy of being online. What is important to remember is that every blogger, at one time or another, struggles to create the perfect content. The important thing is that you try and that you use your voice when writing. Be yourself, share your enthusiasm and ideas, and be proud of your blog. You can do this!
Coming next week – The Wonderful World of Widgets