Kick Start Activity 2 – Advanced – Posts! The heartbeat of the Blog.

First of all, how important is it for a blog post to be effective?

That may seem like a stupid question but I think that it’s reasonable considering many bloggers would say they’re not out to score points. At the same time, whether we like it or not, we write for an audience (even if we also write for ourselves). Who doesn’t like feedback and discussion? The question is, how to attract readers and consequently a network, however small, so that we can share our thoughts and have them challenged and extended by others.

One of the ways to do this is to think about how to write an effective post.

Hmmm….

from my Flickr photostream

1.  Even adults like looking at pictures

Although this has nothing to do with the writing, but a picture always enhances the blog post. After my initial rave, you may have been relieved to receive the visual distraction, and obviously the picture should be relevant to the post. You can be clever with the picture and use it either to illustrate the message using humour, metaphor, surprise, cryptic association or accompanied by a quotation. Either way, it breaks up the mass of text. I like to use more than one picture if I have enough time to find what I need.

2. The heading should not be too boring and preferably interesting

I’m not saying you have to knock people out with the heading but at least have a hook. When I read Joyce Valenza’s award winning post, Things I think teacher librarians should unlearn (20 and counting), I immediately zoomed in on ‘unlearn’. Not sure why, maybe because I get sick of reading about what we should learn, and unlearning seems a little subversive. I was very curious about what Joyce would consider unlearning.

3. Experience

A heading can be catchy but the content of the post is even more important. Going on to read Joyce’s list of what teacher librarians should unlearn, it was clear that Joyce’s experience enabled her to punch out so many excellent points. An blog post is effective when the author writes from experience.  Even though we might feel we are not saying anything new, there is always someone who will appreciate our perspective, for whom our experiences and observations are new and interesting.

4.  Generosity

People jump at a post which shares generously, such as Joyce Seitzinger’s Moodle tool guide for teachers post. In this case, Joyce adapted a social media cheat sheet with a business/marketing focus to one relevant to education. When you do the hard work and share a resource you’ve created in your post, it’s a winner.

5.  Honesty

Jeremy Harmer’s post, Why I walked out – but would you?, was shortlisted in the Edublogs influential blog post category. It’s a good example of an anecdotal post which I always enjoy reading and also writing. Jeremy writes honestly about walking out of Marc Prensky’s conference session – that in itself attracts the reader’s attention. I think the post works because it’s so reflective, and invites the reader to respond to a series of questions.

Which brings me to my last point:

6.  Conversation

An effective blog post invites readers to join the conversation. This is something I strive to do because there’s nothing more satisfying than engaging people in dialogue, and perhaps influencing them to come back to the blog regularly.

from my photostream

I hope that my post has given you enough to savour, something to chew on.

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7 Comments

Filed under blogging, writing

7 responses to “Kick Start Activity 2 – Advanced – Posts! The heartbeat of the Blog.

  1. Good morning Tania

    You raise some interesting points. I think it all comes down to what you mean by effectiveness.

    Sometimes people just come by your blog post for information as a result of a Google search – they find what they want and move on, or perhaps back to where they came from.

    Engaging people in conversation is a lot harder, and I think it isn’t always the blogger’s fault that the conversation doesn’t eventuate.
    It also depends on whether visitors are used to leaving comments, and whether they tick the dreaded “Notify me of comments by email” box. – I have in this case, but I actually hate the way wordpress manages this tool.

    So how do we measure effectiveness? Number of visitors? Number of comments? or effectiveness for the blogger in clarifying your own ideas?

    I find writing a blog post usually involves me in an amount of research (as I can see happened for you here) and so I am exploring a topic and adding to my own knowledge. If I am writing a book review as I do at http://paradise-mysteries.blogspot.com/ then I am often clarifying my own reaction to the book.

    Finally I think a crucial factor is if you hit on a topic people want to read about, learn about, or clarify their own ideas on. Over on my posterous blog for example I have found that e-books and social networking topics have a big audience, far greater than I had imagined they would.

    Cheers

    Kerrie

  2. Very nice analysis of a good post! I particularly like #6…conversation. I struggle with that. As a blogger who posts mostly tech resources and tutorials, there aren’t a lot of conversations going back and forth. So I often struggle with the blog as an effective part of my PLN. Maybe I need to broaden the focus of my blog to generate more discussion on some technology issues.

    Thanks for making me think this morning!

  3. murcha

    Hi Tania, you have provided much ‘food for thought’ on what makes an effective post. I really like your point on generousity.

    • Thanks, Anne. It’s an interesting series of blogging reflections. I hope to do at least some of them and have time to read what others are saying, join in the conversation.

  4. mshitzges

    I agree about the pictures! I would really like to add pictures to my blog but I am not sure how.

  5. I too wonder how I can use this in my classroom. No matter how effective and engaging my blog is, students will only do the minimal posting. Is that really what we want? I am taking this as a staff development class. I must respond to 3 posts from the challenge blog to earn credit for the assignment. Is that how we should do it in the classroom? I wish there was a better way but I guess that is how I will have to incorporate it as well to make sure that students do not just do the minimal.
    Any suggestions?

  6. kzells

    I am still wondering what would be effective to use a blog in the classroom. I think that making it an option for students to talk about a specific class or ask questions is better than making it mandatory for everyone to participate in. I feel the blog would be a really cool way to connect with students and have them bounce back ideas between the teachers and other students.

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