Nathan Toft’s response “this must be one of the top ten things to figure out about blogging” to my How To NOT Have Problems Uploading Photos And Using Up Storage Space post has me thinking.
What would my “top ten things to figure out about blogging” list be for new bloggers? And how would my tips compare to others?
Can you help us create a list of “top things to figure out about blogging” for new bloggers?
Please leave a comment to tell us:
- What are your 3 (or more) most important things a new bloggger needs to know?
- Alternatively, tell us what you don’t understand or want to know more about in terms of blogging? So we can help you!
Thanks to Nathan Toft for inspiring this post!
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29 thoughts on “The 10 Most Important Things To Figure Out About Blogging”
the 3 most important things for me to learn are obvious but took me some time to discover the differences between tags and categories, backlinks and keywords. Now that I understand those 3 things I feel I am graduatuated.
My top three pieces of advice: (being a relatively new blogger I am still learning, but this is what I think right now)
1- write about what you are interested in (usually great ideas just happen as I’m reading or working on a project I get inspired)
2- don’t worry about how often you post- I use to stress about making sure I posted several times a week. It’s not about frequency, it is about you passions and writing when you feel like writing.
3- you need to be out there to get your blog out there- read other blogs, post on other blogs, collaborate with other bloggers, tweet other people’s posts, and add them to your blog (either within posts or on your blogroll).
oh… and make sure you subscribe to Sue Water’s blog for great ‘how tos’ to make sure you grow as a blogger… I learn something everyday.
@djainslie, Totally agree always important to write about what excites you and for me I’ve become comfortable with accepting when I can write posts. Excellent tips about getting your post out there!
Thanks for the nice words — now we just need to get Sue posting more frequently!
Right. It would seem I inspired Sue to write this post and, now, in return, she inspired me to write a post on the same topic. Many of the things that made my top list are already mentioned here, so I guess that means we are all on the right track:
And next comment!
Here’s where I insert the I’ve just broken all rules on length of comments etc — maybe someone can write me a post on comment ettiquette 🙂
@janzalone Totally agree. Definitely important to start small and take your time so that it is meaningful and authentic. In your case it would be challenging to have that balance between providing the assistance while supporting them without making them feel pushed. But hopefully as they see the success by others more will become involved.
@BookChook Totally agree that Google is your best friend for finding great how-to help. But want to add that Google Reader is one of my best friends when writing blog posts. I have so many posts in my Google Reader, including ones shared by friends, that whenever I’m writing a posts on a topic I always find extra info faster searching in Google Reader than using Google.
For me connecting with people who became my mentor was important for my development.
Thanks for sharing your tips.
@Kathleen McGeady You are a great example of asking questions at the end of posts. There is quite a bit of skills in writing a post that leaves itself open and invites comments. You do it really well!
Your info on how to interact with your blog for students and parents get better every year.
Oh no do I need to write a “dear readers I haven’t blog on http://suewaters.com/ since Feb 17, 2010 because …” post on my personal blog?
Posting frequency is an interesting topic on its own and would love to hear others thoughts before I share the facts 🙂
And thanks Kathleen back at you for all you do to help the Edubloggering community!
@Sean Google Analytics is definitely helpful but I also suggest you set up FeedBurner. Google Analytic shows how many people visit your blog while Feedburner shows how many people subscribe by RSS and email. Google Analytics combined with FeedBurner provide the stats to show how your readership is changing.
Here’s my post on setting up FeedBurner – http://theedublogger.com/2010/01/26/setting-up-feedburner-rss-and-email-subscription-for-your-blog/
Also totally agree with you regarding Facebook. In my case my blogs go into my personal Facebook account which is fine as I use it for work. There are lots of people who prefer to read and post comments in Facebook than on a blog.
Being able to schedule posts is really important. It forever frustrates me when you see a blogger that has a period of not writing posts and then suddenly release 3 or more posts on the same day. In that situation you are always better to schedule them every few days because when you post on the same day it is less likely the older posts will be read.
@David As always excellent advice and thanks for sharing! My advice has always been write first for yourself and second for your readers. Although for some reason I’ve always struggle with the old post titles. Titles are my weakness and usually the thing that takes me the longest to decide on. I’ll generally write the idea of the post and then add the title later.
Thanks fot those links on blogging!
@Rosemary Totally agree. We get so used to talking the language that we do that we forget others don’t necessaryily know what we mean.
I would extend it further to also highlight that we use different every day words through out the World and that can make it hard for readers. One of our team in USA once said I often have to Google what you say because I’m not always sure what you mean. Last time I checked I spoke English — but those slight differences can confuse readers.
As always you have inspired me even if it did take me time to get to it. Sorry about that but injury my leg with everything else did slow me down a bit. Off course now everyone is going to wonder how a leg can slow down typing — I shall leave you all guessing.
Excellent post Nathan and thanks for sharing!
I don’t have a blog. I read lots of other people’s blogs. Here are my three first things:
1. How to start
2. The VOCABULARY of blogging – a glossary with arrows and explanatory text would be very useful. I can see that other bloggers have images, videos, links to wherever – and vocabulary is thrown around like tags, categories, etc. Imagine the first timers are learning a foreign language – they are.
3. A tried and true way to “add” other things to the blog. Not many choices, one that is plainly explained and can be done step by step.
I’d be happy to be the guinea pig.
My ‘two-dimes’ worth of ideas for new bloggers:
1. Don’t do it for other people. Create a space that YOU want to come back to and other will too!
2. Jot it down on a napkin, record it on your phone, send yourself an email, save a blog title and two sentences to a draft post… when you get a blog idea, have somewhere to put it until you can spend time crafting a post.
3. Before blogging with students, be a blogger yourself, or at least spend time reading blogs first! Blogs can be engaging learning spaces, or glorified homework boards… unless you plan and think things through you are more likely to hope for the former, but get the latter.
Here is some reading on the topic I’ve collected of the past few years: http://delicious.com/dtruss/blogging
These are great suggestions. My blog is pretty new, but I have found that knowing who and how many people are reading keeps me going. It was pretty easy to set up Google Analytics to monitor my page views, etc. I also have found having a facebook fan (now “like”) page really built my readership, as people networked to each other in our area of interest (speech-language pathology) would see that their friends follow the blog, and would check it out too. I post to the FB page every time there is a new blog post, so people see that in their News Feed.
I also like Blogger’s feature that allows you to schedule posts ahead of time. That way I can write when I have a chunk of time, and it will be published automatically so that my blog is regularly updated.
@Sean Sweeney, Hi Miss Sweeney! From being in your class last year, I found that you really have a way with computers! You always were able to figure things out when no one else could. Thanks for submitting your response towards education using technology!
Some ideas that come to mind are….
– start small until you get the hang of blogging. Start with just adding text and then images before you move onto embedding other media.
– when you get the hang of blogging, use a variety of media to add interest to your blog posts (pictures, slideshows, Voicethread, audio, streaming video etc). Sometimes when people discover a new media they can use it to death.
– leave a message at the end of each post with ideas for comments.
– reply to comments (on my class blog, I usually assign students to this task).
– don’t assume your audience will know how to navigate your blog especially if they are students or parents who are new to the world of blogging. Have instructions or video on the blog explaining how to comment. I regularly show my students the ins and outs of navigating the blog, commenting and searching for content etc. I sent home handouts to parents explaining how to use the blog and comment.
– blogging is a two way street. Read and leave comments on others’ blogs if you want them to do the same.
– assign tags and categories to posts and show your readers how to use these to find content that they are most interested in (eg I have the student names as categories so parents can quickly find their child’s work).
– most importantly, keep your blog updated regularly. People will quickly lose interest is you don’t keep the posts coming.
Thanks Sue and your Edublogger community; a lot of this I have learnt from you!
Here are three things that took me quite a while to work out, that I wish I’d known immediately I began my blog.
Google is your best friend. If you are having trouble with something, try googling the problem. So many kind souls use Screentoaster or similar to video their screens and show solutions to problems. It’s amazing how helpful it is to put something like “what is my rss feed?” into a searchbox.
Use Twitter, forums, comment on other blogs, join memes – whatever works for you to build a network of people you can call on for support or help.
If all else fails and you think you will never “get” how to do something, consider asking/looking around for someone you can pay to do it for you, or show you how to do it. Sometimes reasonable sums like $25 might save you hours or days of frustration.
After blogging for years and working with the teachers on my campus to set up blogs, I still feel like a beginner!!
There is always something new and exciting in the blogging world, so my first tip would be to spend some time on other educators’ blogs for inspiration and ideas. See what is out there and how blogging can take your classroom to the next level.
Remember, though that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Start small! The teachers I have worked with who want to start with a blog for each class and each student become so overwhelmed that they have a hard time getting started. Just like with every large project, start in chunks. Get one blog for your class created, maybe create posts for separate classes so kids’ comments can be separated…after getting comfortable with that, create a blog for each class…then try jumping into student blogs. Before you know it, you will have created your own blogosphere!
Finally and I think most important, is to make it meaningful and authentic. NEVER create a classroom blog just because “everyone else is doing it”, or “it’s the trend”. Think about how a blog can enhance your curriculum and what type of commitment you can make to it. Will it be a place where at the end of each chapter of a novel you are reading in class, the kids reflect on the chapter and respond to each other? If that is too much, maybe you use your blog at the end of the novel? Maybe posting a weekly question for feedback on student understanding is something you think would benefit students? As educators, we don’t want to now move the busy work from a worksheet to the internet…make it MEANINGFUL! That is when you truly see student engagement explode, understanding increase.
As for my own struggle: I have a hard time keeping teachers motivated…out of 20 who set blogs up on my campus, 5 consistently use theirs, 10 are here and there, and the others still have their default post! I know it has to be authentic and I tell myself that to get 25% to find it useful in their classrooms is a great number…I just want to make sure I have supported them enough without pushing!
I think that I recently wrote a post similar to what you might have been looking for. It was about how to do everything that I think that beginning bloggers should know how to do. I hope that this helps!
@laurenc604, Sorry that I posted this twice. I couldn’t tell that it had posted. Has any one else been experiencing this problem? I had someone else comment the same thing on my blog, twice, because she experienced this problem, too.
@laurenc604, Sorry but Akismet has been naughty! It has been moderating and sending your comments to spam 🙁
Looks like I need to tell it off!
@Sue Waters, Uh-oh. I wonder why that is.
Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts so far and I’ve broken my responses into a series of comments because it’s a hard one.
If I respond to each individually I’ll overwhelm you all with emails (for any that subscribe to comments by email). So I hope you are all okay with me responding this way?
@2sparkley Definitely swf objects are considerably harder to embed now you don’t have the button in your write post area. Fortunately most web sites provide embed code for swf that makes it easy.
@nutrich How do you increase your readership is a common question asked and not an easy one to answer as it is a combination of how you write your posts, connecting to others and post frequencies. Definitely twitter and connecting to others via comments helps.
With widgets I go through a regular cull when I feel they are getting out of control.
@laurenc604 As always your post is absolutely amazing and packed full of great advice for new bloggers.
Definitely having a blog roll is important. My biggest struggle with the blogroll has been I interact with so many bloggers that it is hard to choose. Perhaps I need to have a blog roll that provides links to student, teacher and class blogs of the month and changes every month?
Thanks for sharing your post and your blogging rubric.
I really like this advice “Students need to learn how to access and use their Google Reader so that they find out immediately when someone has posted or commented. If they don’t use this and have subscriptions to all their classmates’ blog posts AND comments, then it is unlikely that they will be active bloggers.”
Being able to quickly see all posts and comments means they can quickly engage in the conversation. Unfortunately this isn’t some thing that teachers always show their students how to do.
And I love these tips for class blogs:
“1. Create BEST BLOG badges and send them to the most creative blog or the most prolific blogger.
2. Write about a particularly interesting or thoughtful post of one of your student’s thereby directing traffic to their blog. (Like real bloggers).”
My personal opinion is WordPress powered blogs are your best option. They have more advanced formatting options including threaded comments, posts and page structure which is why most professional bloggers use WordPress powered blogs. However, I do work for Edublogs.org (which is powered by WordPress) — so probably better for others to share their thoughts.
@Sue Waters, Thank you so much Ms. W! Actually, my principal called me and my friend, Abbey R, down to his office yesterday to ask if we wanted to go down to the sixth grade classrooms this Thursday. (Yes, the blogging Abbey and I are good friends) We are going down to their classrooms to teach them about the positives and adventures of blogging. If any of you have any suggestions for our presentation, feel free to visit my blog and leave a comment.
I want to know what is the best free (and open to the public) blogging platform that allows easier formatting options for commenting. I currently use Blogger with my students which has no formatting options. I think that advanced formatting for comments would allow me to give students more specific and clear corrections on their writing.
I created a matrix comparing blogging platforms- you might find it useful
I use edublogs and pay to be a supporter so that comments are more organized. I have a high school teacher who uses edublogs as well and it works really well for her students.
@djainslie, thanks for sharing your matrix. It is really good.
In terms of threaded comments all users, regardless of if free or a Pro blog user, now have access to threaded comments. When we updated the themes we made sure it was a feature supported by the theme.
So to activate you go to Settings > Discussion and select enable threaded comments then click update at bottom of page.
And if you want to subscribe to the comment feed on any Edublogs blog you just use comments/feed/ to the end of the URL – for example my feed is http://theedublogger.edublogs.org/comments/feed/
But I did have a question you say “Students can only create blogs if on Campus?” But students can create blogs any time using our Edublogs.org signup page.
My most recent blogging experience has been setting up personal Spanish blogs with my beginner/intermediate high school Spanish students. If anyone is interested in lessons learned from that specific classroom blogging situation, I posted tips on my blog including a rubric http://conversacionesentreprofesores.blogspot.com/
More generally speaking, though, are the following:
1.) Google Reader – especially as a teacher monitoring student blogs.
2.) Subscription Gadget – especially so that you and students can subscribe to comments on each others’ blogs.
3.) Use tags and folders in Google Reader to organize student’s posts and comments. I can easily find everything a student has written and look back through it to give final blogging grade.
@Catherine Wright, Yes, I agree with the fact that Google Reader or another RSS feed service plays a major role in monitoring student blogs. I am one of the helpers for the Student Blogging Challenge this year, and I have put all of my students’ blogs as a part of a tag. I also subscribe to the blogs of everyone in my classes. I also left a comment on your blog responding to your instructions post for your students. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
I recently made a post similar to the type of response that you might be looking for for this. I think it might be helpful to people who are new to blogging or are still trying to figure the important things out. I hope that this helps!
Rather than techie stuff, most of which you can find ‘how to’ videos for online, I think these three things are important for bloggers:
1) Advertise the blog! Blogging is not just about one person posting and others reading, it’s about collaboration and the sharing of ideas. Twitter is a great way of doing this.
2) Don’t clutter up the page with loads of widgits! Having some is ok, but a full page of clutter is annoying to read.
3) Comment on other people’s blogs and subscribe, make some friends! And use an RSS feed, something like google reader to keep up with other blogs you like.
There’s a few ideas, simple, but important things, from my point of view.
The hardest things i found was how to embed swf flash objects that don;t have a code- still don’t know how to do properly- just keep copying the code you game me and adding the swf file to it by uplaoding and getting the address