Tips for growing your blog’s audience: Bravery

This is the second part in a 3 part series designed to introduce education bloggers to the tips and tricks of building an audience. 

Each part in the series is drawn from the ABCs of social media spaces laid out by Amber Mac in her fantastic book Power Friending.  You can find part one in this series here.

Another challenge for anyone interested in being heard in today’s new media landscape is that our audiences are literally swimming in digital noise. The number of messages—delivered via snail mail, email, websites, television stations, radio stations, text messages, instant messages—consumed by any one individual during the course of a given day is simply staggering.

That means being heard requires bloggers to be inventive about the content of—and the craft behind—the messages that we’re creating.

Remember that blogs were never designed for the kinds of unbiased, staid reporting required of traditional journalists. Blogs are about opinions—and provocative or controversial opinions shared in interesting ways are far likelier to be embraced and shared by audiences.

Bravery in Action on The Tempered Radical:

Bravery can often be a challenge for education bloggers. Working in a professional setting where making waves is frowned upon, we’re trained to be perfectly diplomatic in every setting.

Being brave, however, doesn’t have to mean alienating employers or colleagues.

It simply means demonstrating a willingness to ask the kinds of tough questions that educators love to avoid. Here’s a few examples of brave posts on The Tempered Radical that broke through the digital noise and garnered a ton of attention:

 

Taking Controversial Opinions

http://bit.ly/bravery1

http://bit.ly/bravery2

For whatever reason, making waves is simply a part of who I am. I’ve always been the guy sitting in the back of the faculty meeting looking for the relevance in school-wide decisions and letting my skepticism shine.

While those behaviors haven’t always made my principals happy, I feel pretty strongly that they’ve made my schools better places to work and learn. Avoiding challenging questions isn’t healthy for any organization, after all.

I’ve also found that posts built around challenging questions are the ones that get the most traffic on my blog.

Two great examples are a bit that I wrote arguing that Interactive Whiteboards were a waste of money (http://bit.ly/bravery1) and a bit that I wrote arguing that media specialists often alienate language arts teachers in their efforts to defend their profession (http://bit.ly/bravery2).

Both posts generated passionate responses from supporters and detractors—and were widely commented on and shared by other bloggers.

Neither post made me a particularly popular guy with every audience—I think most media specialists still cringe when they hear my name—but because they asked difficult questions in an interesting way, they resulted in more attention that I typically receive.

 

Crafting Interesting Content

http://bit.ly/bravery3

http://bit.ly/bravery4

Bravery for a blogger isn’t simply about the content of the posts that you’re creating. Bravery also requires you to work to craft interesting messages that stand out in a crowded messaging landscape.

For me, that often means incorporating powerful and/or provocative images into the posts that I’m writing.

While I’m proud of the written text in both of these posts from the Radical—the first challenging the notion that schools are ready for data-driven decision-making (http://bit.ly/bravery3) and the second challenging the importance of standardized tests (http://bit.ly/bravery4) –I’m also pretty certain that the images that I’ve included will be far more memorable to my readers.