Friday, 18 January 2013

I’m a teacher, should I write a blog?

For any individual whether you’re an educator, academic, professional or student  ̶  writing your own blog may have been something you’ve considered at one point or another. Regardless of your background or expertise there is one principal question to ask yourself before you start and that is; Why? why should I invest in creating and maintaining my own blog?

For many who have expertise in a certain subject or specialism, a blog can be a powerful platform to share and discuss topics, ideas or to offer an alternative standpoint on an area of interest. For others writing a blog can offer commercial or financial value, building an individual’s online profile or supporting the SEO strategy for a particular business or website.

As well as ensuring your reasons behind starting your blog are convincing and worthwhile, there are some other considerations that you should be aware before launching your own blog site.


1. Do I have the time to blog?


Initiating and maintaining a successful blog takes time and commitment. There are of course shortcuts; you might be fortunate enough to have your blog designed and customised for you, you may have a number of in-house writers and blog enthusiasts. You may even have the financial investment to commission acknowledged writers in your field of expertise.

Don’t get me wrong these shortcuts are likely to help you achieve encouraging site traffic stats, a fair few comments and even a healthy number of social media shares. All this and with very little time expended – but is this the point of your blog? Blog writing allows the author to express their own view, expertise or insights with an engaged audience. Creating views, comments and shares are only one part of a successful blog; achieving an engaged audience base is the goal for most citizen journalists, with articles that force the reader to add the blog’s RSS feed, bookmark the page or follow the author on Twitter just to get the next instalment. To do this you need to create a voice, the reason why audiences will come back to your blog and why readers will be willing to share your content.

Like any relationship this takes time, so you need to be realistic about how much time you have to invest in writing informative, useful and above all free content-driven articles.

2. What do I want to achieve from my blog?


As we know our reasons for starting a blog vary greatly; commercial, financial or personal, whichever category you fall into it’s important to set yourself a goal. In the same way a business sets their objectives this should be a SMART one (specific, measurable, action orientated, realistic and timed). For example, to write x number articles per week that average x number of views and that gain x number of shares. This is simplistic but you get the drift.

Once you fully appreciate what you hope to get out of writing your own blog this will give you direction and a sense of purpose. Analysing the success of your articles, from impressions (views) to actions (shares and comments) will help you to understand your audience’s preferences and interests and enable you to create reader-orientated content in the future.

3.    Will writing a blog get me the results I want?


Return on investment (ROI) is generally a commercial term but consider your blog in the same way; you need to see results if you are to continue to invest time and effort. Blogging for business purposes can support an SEO strategy, build brand awareness, help with brand positioning and in most cases lead to increases in the number of incoming leads.

Although schools are not a commercial enterprise they still need to attract students and parents, building a positive brand presence. Teaching blogs; student advice articles, home study tips, recommended e-learning resources, etc are all high value Google search times. Why? Because these are the content areas students and parents are interested in and so teacher blogs can be an important way of positioning the school as an expert in these fields.

Even as an individual, without a website or commercial interest, blogging can serve a wide range of purposes from engaging parents in their child’s learning to improving students creative and analytical skills outside of the classroom.

Blogging is a unique medium that allows us as citizen journalists to collect, report, analyse and disseminate information to online communities. Done right it can create powerful results, but be sure to consider your own situation; the time and effort required vs. what results writing a blog can offer you.

We’d love to hear how you got on or your view on writing your own blog; leave us a comment if you have time or tweet us @LearnersCloud.

LearnersCloud is an e-learning system offering students and schools access to HD tutor-led GCSE revision videos and apps.