My Advanced Teaching with Technology students, who are teachers, are starting their own blog. As I guide them through becoming bloggers, I have been reminded of how distinct blogging is from academic writing. I’m writing this post to support my students, as well as other educators venturing into blogging.
The fact is, making a blog is simple but, in the era of knowledge abundance, enticing people to read your posts is not so easy. Our mobile era places each of us in an endless stream of digital resources. We make choices, often very quickly, about what to read and what to disregard. A study by Buffer found that 55% of people read online articles for 15 seconds before moving on. Here is a list of eight things you can do improve the number of people who read your posts.
- Be meaningful. The most important thing for you to do in your blog posts is to write about things that are important to you. If you aren’t inspired by your own writing, nobody else will be either.
- Set the context. Some of your readers may not understand the context about your post’s topic. Start each post with a brief paragraph that explains what your post is about and who it appeals to.
- Title it well. Many readers will use the title of your post to decide whether or not they want to click and read it. Catchy titles will grab more readers.
- Be concise. Aim for 500-700 words or a post that can be read in 5-7 minutes. The more concise and focused your writing is, the likely others will take the time to read it (all of it).
- Use headings. Place a clear, brief, descriptive heading at the top of each new section/idea within your post. Readers often scan headings to evaluate the value of a digital resource. These headings guide your reader through your ideas and also serve to break up long passages of text, which is helpful to many people. When you compose a heading, use the toolbar at the top to change its text style from “Paragraph” to one of the various “Heading” options. Heading styles make your post look pleasing to the eye and they also promote accessibility of your text for those who are blind and navigate the web using a screenreader.
- Include images. Visuals can make your ideas come to life. But, remember, images are copyrighted content and, as a digital citizen, you understand the importance of modeling how to effectively re-use digital content. Select an image from an online site that provides images licensed for re-use (Creative Commons licenses: CC-BY, CC-BY-NC, etc.), a site that provides images that are shared in the public domain (CC-0), take your own photos, or use an online graphic design tool like Canva to make your own! Read this post for more recommendations.
- Use hyperlinks. When you move from off line to digital text, your medium enables you to include hyperlinks to additional information. These links create “thick” content, giving readers the choice to click and explore an idea further. Links can be used to connect your reader with an article/site that informed your ideas, a study that you reference in your post, or a resource to learn more about your topic.
- Use tags and categories. Whether you are posting with WordPress or Blogger, each post you make should be placed into a specific Category (referred to as Labels in Blogger) and add tags to the post also. A category is like a drawer. You choose which drawer to place each post in. If a reader of your blog goes to a particular category, they see all posts filed away there. Tags are more specific keywords you add to a post. Tags describe the more specific details in your post and you can have as many of them as you’d like!
- Share. After you publish a post, be sure to share it to your social networks and include related hashtags so it is more likely to be seen by members of those communities.
What tips would you add to this list?