Make it worth sticking around.

My stab at carefully considering how to write better blog posts.

Step 1: Write.

I think this is my greatest challenge. Actually sitting down and writing posts that are personal yet pertinent. That don’t disengage my audience. That aren’t written only for me. That say something. But that aren’t too sanctimonious and insipid.

In this era of tweeting, and sms-based conversations, and threaded ‘conversations via email’ sometimes trying to be a blog entry can be too much! Sometimes a blog post should be short and sweet and say something right then and there. Sometimes it should be a lengthy rant or an ongoing rumination with updates as one discovers more.

Step 2: Worry about your audience…

But don’t worry so much that the worrying stops you doing Step 1.

It’s tough to know your audience, when you’re writing for a nebulous “somebody” out there. It’s important to decide the purpose for creating your blog. Is it like Larry Ferlazzo’s site, which is a huge compendium of lists and links – an excellent resource for any teacher, but not particularly personal. Or is it like The Podograni – which is fantastic if you enjoy listening to the rants of a curmudgeonly NZ principal who’s not afraid to speak his mind.

Or will it be a mixture of both?

I think if you can choose that mixture for yourself – not worry too much – then follow Step 1, you can really make it happen in your blog.

Step 3: Less is more.

From my time working in a design collective in London, it’s the brevity of your wit, your work and your design that will make the most lasting impact.

As a teacher, it’s an occupational hazard to blather on. So one simple thing I do is to write, then sit on my posts before posting. On a visual tip, I changed my theme today. Not sure about it yet – but will let it sit a while.

I need to work on this step.

Step 4: Enjoy the process – and follow the conversations. You never know where you’ll end up.

This is the nice thing about blogs and online communities in general As you read more, you build up a community of people you follow, read and engage with. For example, I’ve already been inspired by the writing on Russell’s blog, and I only started reading his work a day ago.

Step 5: Share

I guess that’s one of those basic things we are all meant to learn in kindergarten. The principle in relation to blogging (and to a greater extent, teaching) is about sharing the knowledge, the wisdom, the tips, the tools, and the people that we all connect with.

With that in mind… I really enjoy following and reading two other NZ educators, both who work at CORE.

Firstly Greg Carroll, who is the principal at Outram School in Dunedin. Like the Podograni, he has a particular take on many of the big picture political issues that are at play in NZ education, but also is a gracious thinker, who shares his thoughts with clarity.

Secondly, Derek Wenmouth is Director of eLearning at Core, and his blog is full of tech tips, future thinking, analysis and as of yesterday… robotic balls.

Image via Indexed – a blog that is the epitome of Step 3

10 thoughts on “Make it worth sticking around.

  1. Great posts and insights. I have definitely let #2 on your list get in the way of #1. I’ve decided right now it is more important for me to get in the habit of writing. Then hopefully effective posts will follow once I am in the habit.

  2. I really like your little graph image! CUTE!

    I think that your 5 steps are great ones. I had a couple of the same ones in my post:

    my post 5 Simple Steps


  3. Tim
    Thanks for your post. I found it really informative and inspiring. I have put Derek and Greg’s blogs into my reader. When its the same country as you, it does relate that little bit more because of the system of education is shared understanding.

    Your step 2 and 4 are refreshing. They inspire me to keep going at this rather than saying ‘the standard is too high, I am oughta here!’

  4. Hi Tim, I think that your points one and two are often the stumbling blocks when it comes to blogging. Many potential bloggers don’t write as they are too concerned about their audience, getting it right and trying to impress.However, once they start writing, the other elements of effective posts will fall into place. Therefore the ‘less is more’ is great advice as it does not take long to write a short post.

  5. Enjoy the Process, what a great step. It really is what has my students engaged. They love blogging and why discourage others by getting to technical or to focused on conventions. Why not just enjoy the experience and grow as you become more experience.

    And isn’t it always nice to share= a rewarding experience.

  6. When I come upon a post that’s loooong, I do what most people do; I skim. And it really never occurred to me that people are doing that with my posts, too! Duh! The light just went on!

  7. I love your point here:

    “The principle in relation to blogging (and to a greater extent, teaching) is about sharing the knowledge, the wisdom, the tips, the tools, and the people that we all connect with.”

    I wonder about the Less is More idea, though. Not that I am arguing with you, but it does seem like blogs are moving more towards Tweets, as opposed to becoming more extended writing. I’m not suggesting that blogs become full research papers or even essays. But they do offer a space for longer reflective practice, but the trend seems to be the opposite (in my opinion).

    I guess that says as much as about us as readers as it does about us as writers, right?

    Take care,

    PS — I agree about your ideas around design, too. But then a part of me thinks: most folks will read blogs in their RSS reader, which strips away all design elements. At this point, I don’t even know what the blogs that I read look like anymore. They look like Google Reader. That’s interesting, isn’t it?

  8. @dogtrax: I agree – there’s currently a tension between blogs and tweets, and the purpose of both, in an increasingly fractured set of communication channels.

    Many of us in the online space select and use a wide range of channels: Facebook, Twitter, Diigo, LinkedIn, blogs, Second Life … the list goes on and on.

    At what point do our different selves converge or conflict? And how do we balance and maintain those perspectives.

  9. As a first time blogger, in an isolated area, I’m really looking forward to #4: building up and getting to know an online community. “Its a small world” is such a cliche that we use so often, but I guess online communities of like-minded people create global communities. Thanks for your thoughts Tim

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