If there is one thing that social media in education has taught me, it is: Never answer for someone else’s need to know! In a world of discussions using tweets and posts, there is an audience for discussion on any level of experience on any given subject. The subjects that I deal with most often involve education, social media or social media in education.
The posts and tweets I ponder the most are those that deal with the very basics of these subjects. I always worry if a basic explanation is just too basic for an audience of professionals. I too often make an assumption that what I am about to write in my post is too basic, and therefore no one will have any interest. To my surprise, almost every time, those are the posts that are often the most read on my blog. Writing a blog is a subject that I have covered before, “What’s the big deal about Blogging?”
Doing that first post is the biggest hurdle for most bloggers. There are a number of ways to start that first post. I started by doing a guest post for Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell). She encouraged me and took a chance that my post would not turn off those who followed her blog. Step one, then, might be: Find a blogger and make a friend. There is another way to take a first step. Many Ning communities have a page for blog post contributions. Contributing a post to one such site enables one not only to see an idea published, but it may elicit responses from other community members as well.
However one gets there, the ultimate final step is to create a personal blog. There are a number of apps one can use to house the blog. I use WordPress. Many friends use EduBlogger. Google now offers free blogging space. All these apps walk a novice through the setup with easy-to-follow instructions and prompts. It is far less complicated than creating a website.
Creating the blog is the most work one will need to do. After that, it is all reflecting, writing, promoting, rinsing and repeating. It is amazing how with a little time, the subjects keep popping into one’s head. I did not put myself on a schedule, but I attempted to think of something to write each week, sometimes two weeks.
Reflecting and writing should be reward enough, but any idea not shared is just a passing thought. The whole idea of the blog is to publish one’s ideas for the purpose of sharing. With that in mind, promotion of one’s site becomes a part of the experience. Twitter for me is the tool that I use to drive people to my site. A quick description, title, link and the range-expanding hashtag #Edchat combine go a long way in attracting readers.
Once I publish a post on my blog, I also return to those Ning communities of educators. I place my post on The Educator’s PLN, ASCDEdge and School Leadership 2.0 at the very least. I sometimes go to other sites as well.
There is no single path to the success of a blog post. I have offered the strategies that have worked for me. However one gets there, there will be benefits of learning along the way. Once the blog is established, however, that is when a learning transformation can take place. The computer is the 21st-century publisher. Blogging has now become a large part of our culture as educators and citizens. Those who participate in writing posts benefit much more than those who only read posts.
Tom Whitby (@tomwhitby) is an adjunct professor of education at St. Joseph’s College in New York. He previously spent 34 years as a secondary English teacher in the public school system. He was recognized with an Edublog Award for the Most Influential Educational Twitter Series, #Edchat, which he co-founded. Whitby also created The Educator’s PLN and two LinkedIn groups, Technology-Using Professors and Twitter-Using Educators.