I’m very keen for the Creative Education blog to have a wide range of contributors to make it as interesting and relevant to educators as possible. So I decided to prepare some guidelines for our pool of consultants about how to write blog posts and encourage them to contribute. Then I realised that I should practice what I preach and turn my ideas into a blog post to be shared more widely.
I’ve not been blogging long and am always keen to learn so please feel free to give constructive criticism and share your ideas too.
1. Write practical rather than theoretical blog posts
There is a time and place for in depth pedagogical theory – in my opinion this is not it. People reading blog posts are looking for practical ideas they can put into practice right away or something easily accessible that can get them thinking whilst they’re having a coffee and browsing on a mobile device in the staffroom.
2. Write like you talk
I find it much easier and more enjoyable to read blog posts that are written in a relatively informal style. I like to feel that the author is almost speaking the words. Blog posts are, by their very nature, just one person’s point of view so I think it’s great when they’re written in that person’s natural style rather than in an overly formal traditional writing style.
3. Express opinions and start conversations
In addition to writing like you talk – feel free to be yourself and express your opinions. By all means counter-balance them without someone else’s ideas or include a caveat saying the views are your own and not your employers but go out on a limb, make your opinions known and get conversations started.
4. Keep it brief and easily readable
I am instantly turned off by long blog posts. It’s nice to have a little something to get your teeth into but not too much. People reading blog posts will often browse a very wide range of topics which are often a little beyond their immediate areas of knowledge and interest. Engage with them with a short, accessible blog post on your favourite topic but don’t expect passing readers to be riveted by your 8000 word account of the mating habits of Siberian red frogs.
5. Break up your writing with subtitles
Subtitles are one of the most useful tools at the blogger’s disposal. They break your writing up and help people to get a quick idea of whether your post is of interest to them or not. I tend to write my subtitles first and fill in the text later and include enough information in my subtitles to enable someone to get the general gist of the whole post so they can make an informed decision about whether to dive in or not.
6. Create lists
Lists are useful, easily digestible and great currency online. They tend to be some of the most popular blog posts and are also eminently tweetable which is a great way of gaining new readers. Beware though, writing good lists is actually quite difficult and time consuming!
7. Use Pictures and Good Titles
Relevant pictures and an engaging title are great ways to grab readers’ attention. Think carefully about the words you use in your title as by being too clever and obtuse you can often prevent organic search traffic from finding you. Try to make your title self-explanatory and include any key words related to your topic. Also try to keep it short enough so it can be easily tweeted with a link to your page and a comment from the tweeter. I try to keep titles under 60 characters.
8. Include links
One of the great things about writing online is that you can so easily link to other posts you have written or to relevant blog posts or articles or resources on line. This linking adds extra depth to your post and will keep readers engaged and help them stumble upon new posts of interest.
9. Write for an international audience
Remember that your blog is equally accessible to those halfway across the world as it is to those just down the corridor. Remember this when you’re writing and try to make your posts accessible to an international audience. Sometimes you’ll be writing something very specific to e.g. the English Curriculum and that’s fine but don’t needlessly use UK education jargon if it will prevent readers from further afield from entering the conversation. Either leave the terms out or provide a brief explanation. We can learn a huge amount from talking to our international colleagues so make them feel welcome.
10. Credit contributors and never steal
Blogging is all about sharing. People are often very generous in sharing their work – I have included a lot of posts on this blog which I’ve read elsewhere and been inspired by so asked for permission to re-post. This is a great way of adding interest to your own blog and providing extra readership to the blogger who wrote the original post. Make sure that if you do use someone else’s work you fully credit them and link back to their blog – that’s basic manners. NEVER steal. That is an absolute no in the world of blogging and if you get found out you’ll blacklisted or stoned (okay. Maybe that last bit’s a lie but it’s not far wrong…)
Happy Blogging! I hope you found this useful… Please tell me what I got wrong and what I didn’t include but should have.