This is the last post of a three-part series (see here and here) that I’ve written based on the ideas of Amber Mac that details the key behaviors necessary for building your education blog’s audience. Hope you dig it:
Perhaps the greatest challenge for edubloggers hoping to grow an audience is the reality that growing an audience requires consistent posting and participation. Writing every now and then is just not good enough in a world where instantaneous communication is the new normal.
Once you decide to participate in social media spaces, your audiences are going to expect you to be consistently present. Failing to share on a regular basis—or to respond when readers reach out to you—is a recipe for a small audience and a short career as an edublogger!
While there are no hard-and-fast rules for the number of posts that are required in order to satisfy readers, most successful bloggers—regardless of field—are creating new entries 2-3 times per week.
Doing so ensures that audiences have new content to consume every time that they start browsing blogs—something that 77% of online Americans report doing regularly (McLean, 2009).
Equally important is establishing a set routine for posting new content. If readers can identify a pattern to your posting habits—one long post every Saturday, one short post each Wednesday—they’ll start looking forward to visiting your blog on a regular basis.
Consistency in Action on The Tempered Radical:
That’s a pretty intimidating message, isn’t it? The thought of generating new posts 2-3 times every week is almost overwhelming for educators who are already overwhelmed by the daily responsibilities of their professional positions and personal lives.
The good news is that “generating new posts” doesn’t have to mean writing long-form selections on meaty educational topics every week. In fact, bloggers that write long-form entries all the time often leave their readers—who are also struggling with time constraints—mentally and physically exhausted.
That means developing a series of short-form blog entry styles is essential—both to surviving as an edublogger and to developing an audience. I rely on four primary styles of short-form entries to make consistent content generation on the Tempered Radical manageable:
Sharing Links to Interesting Articles and Other Bloggers
One of my favorite short-form entry styles is a post type that I call “Read This.” In “Read This” entries—like this one spotlighting a post on technology leadership written by noted edublogger Scott McLeod—my goal is to simply point my readers to something interesting that I’ve read online.
Not only are “Read This” entries easy to write—I’m constantly bookmarking interesting content worth sharing and I consciously keep my summary of Read This bits to a few paragraphs—they help to build a sense of community between edubloggers and their regular readers.
When Scott finds out that I’ve spotlighted his work, he’s more likely to do the same for me.
Embedding Online Videos
Similar to the “Read This” entries that have grown popular on the Tempered Radical, “Watch This” entries are designed to generate quick, engaging posts for my readers.
In “Watch This” entries—like this one spotlighting a Ted Talk on the political implications of a Web 2.0 world by former English Prime Minister Gordon Brown—I do little more than embed a provocative video from an online source like Ted (http://www.ted.com/) or YouTube (http://www.youtube.com) and ask a few interesting questions.
While “Watch This” entries don’t generate a ton of conversation, they provide readers with a new type of visual content to consume—and in a world where visual content is commanding more and more attention, that keeps my blog relevant and interesting.
Creating PowerPoint Slides
Another type of visual content that I’ve tried to incorporate into short-form entries are PowerPoint slides that include little more than an interesting image—which I pick up from the Flickr Creative Commons (http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/) website—paired with a provocative quote that I either write on my own or pick up from something that I’m reading.
Not only are the images easy to create and interesting to view, they’re often a valuable take-away for my readers who can use the slides in their own presentations.
If you’re not sure about creating your own slides, consider using—with credit—the great slides already being shared by educators in Flickr, which can be found here: http://bit.ly/eduslidesonflickr)
Sharing Lessons, Materials, or Email Responses
Regardless of the role that you play in education, you’re already creating TONS of content. If you’re a teacher, you’ve probably crafted more than your fair share of interesting lessons, right?
If you’re a professional developer or a principal, you’ve probably got a few good staff training sessions floating around on your jump drive—and no matter who you are, you’re probably answering a ton of questions that your readers would be interested in via email.
Start to multipurpose this content by posting it on your blog, something I’ve done here with a great set of poetry lessons (http://bit.ly/consistency4) and a detailed response to a parent’s question about keeping her son safe in social media spaces (http://bit.ly/consistency5).
While you’ve got to remember to protect the privacy of parents and colleagues whose questions you’re answering and students whose materials you might be sharing, never underestimate the value that these kinds of materials may carry for your audience.
Not only are these kinds of sharing posts easy to create—you’re creating materials and responding to emails anyway, aren’t you?—they are the kinds of tangible products that can make the lives of your readers easier.
Mac, A. (2010). Power friending: Demystifying social media to grow your business. New York, NY: Portfolio Hardcover.
McLean, J. (2009, October 19). Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere, 2009. Retrieved from http://technorati.com/blogging/article/state-of-the-blogosphere-2009-introduction/