Are you a new blogger or thinking of embarking on your blogging journey? Who will you write for?
Determining your audience is a useful first step when commencing any writing project. Fortunately, when your writing is in the format of a blog, you have the flexibility to alter and adapt to different readers as your blog evolves. The advantage of educational blogs is that the benefits come from the journey itself.
Despite this flexibility, it’s still advantageous to give your target audience some thought when starting a new blog.
Reflecting on our annual survey of how blogs are being used, it is clear that educators are using blogs for a variety of purposes.
Thinking about your target audience can help you to determine content for your blog.
Most commonly, an educator will begin a new blog with a target readership of either:
- parents and the classroom community
- other educators
Other audiences may evolve when you get started, such as other blogging classes around the world. Often, you may end up writing for multiple audience groups.
Below are some tips for targeting your key audiences.
If parents and your school community are your primary audience, your information may revolve around what is happening in your classroom. This information can then become excellent conversation starters for families; particularly when students are not forthcoming about what is happening at school.
A blog aimed at parents can also save time for both teachers and families, as answers to questions can often be found easily on a blog page and referred to when necessary.
From an information perspective, you might want to include:
- Posts with pictures, videos, and recounts of what has been happening in the classroom.
- Pages with information about classroom procedures such as homework, class rules or school policies.
- Calendars with details about upcoming events.
- Suggestions about ways parents can help their children at home, for example, websites with literacy or maths activities.
Class blogs are also a great way to build community and relationships with parents. You may consider using your blog to:
- Educate parents about how to comment on posts and join in virtual classroom discussions.
- Answer parent questions or share tips through blogs posts.
- Post questions for parents to increase engagement, such as What technology did you use when you were younger?
Parents can easily become a captive audience for class blogs, as they love seeing what their children are up to at school. Parent participation cannot be left to chance, however. It’s good practice to encourage parents to participate in your class blog while educating them on how to do so. Look out for an upcoming post on The Edublogger about encouraging parent participation!
Class blogs aren’t the only blog style that targets a parent audience. Some educators are successfully using blogs on a whole school level. Craigburn Connections is a fantastic example of how a blogging platform (powered by CampusPress) can be established to provide a comprehensive hub for parents. There is whole school information as well as links to individual classes. This is an example worth taking a look at!
Traditionally, class work would receive a very limited audience. Completed work could end up on a bulletin board, or crumpled up in the bottom of a school bag. A class blog opens up the possibilities for authentic audiences, thus increasing student engagement, growth and self-esteem.
Many teachers use blogs as a space to share all the wonderful work their students are doing in the classroom. Ms Cassidy in Canada uses her class blog to showcase both their general classroom activities, as well as for individual student work (you can find the links to student blogs on the right sidebar of Ms Cassidy’s blog).
Alternatively, using a blog as a space to post assignment information for students is a popular strategy. Not only can task information be listed (and not misplaced), but teachers can also post useful resources with live links. The comment section can be used by students to ask questions, debate or discuss topics, and share additional resources.
Mr Ross’s Science class is an example of a blog where simple posts show what has been taught in class and what the homework requirements are. What a useful resource for both students and parents!
Another class that uses their blog to house student learning resources is Connected Learners in Woodend, Australia. They have a page for their year 6/7 students called What’s Happening Today where the children can find their timetable, task groupings, and resources for the activities they will be completing in class.
Sometimes the hardest part of writing a blog in which you engage with other professionals is figuring out your niche. It may help to think about the lessons or activities about which you are most proud. Think about the creative ways in which you’ve engaged students. Think about what you have done that is different from the other teachers around you, or the things that you learned that inspired you. This is the information that other educators will be looking to read.
Look at the discussions happening in your field in the blogosphere and on social media. Aim to become part of the larger community within your specialty.
Some educators use a blog to explicitly share ideas and resources with other educators, and to develop their place in the global education community. For example, Jamie Forshey posts a range of ideas about technology integration for teachers on her popular Edutech for Teachers blog.
Similar to Connected Learners, there are some teachers who use a blog as a way to house resources for weekly lesson plans. Links to websites, videos, and lesson materials can all be organised in a central location and possibly shared with other educators. Tammy Skinner’s excellent science blog is just one example of this sort of site. Class notes, lesson materials, course outlines and more are housed for easy access for teachers, students, and families.
Other educators use a blog as more of a self-reflecting tool, or as a space to share and ponder their latest thinking. Blogs by educational leaders Chris Betcher and Andrew Douch often contain these sorts of inspiring posts, along with some more practical tips.
Writing is about communicating, but it is also a way to express learning. Educators are constantly learning, and blogging is an excellent way to keep doing that.
As author and speaker on leadership, John Maxwell, says “Reflection turns experience into insight”. What a powerful tool blogging could be to help you reflect as an educator!
What blogs are you the audience for? A good blogger not only creates content but consumes and connects. Following blogs can also be an effective way to get ideas on how other bloggers connect with their audience.
- See a class blog you like? What are the teachers and students doing to connect and engage with parents or other audience members?
- Is there a teacher blog you enjoy reading? What makes it resonate with you? Are there any style ideas you could transfer to your own writing?
With an audience in mind, you may opt to take a few moments before beginning each blog post to put yourself in the shoes of your reader. If you write with your reader in mind, you will no doubt create a more engaging and relevant post. For example, you might be creating a teacher resource blog. If you consider your readers’ levels of experience, teaching roles, students’ ages, prior knowledge etc. before beginning your post, you undoubtedly will do a better job at reaching out to that intended audience.
For educators using blogs, it can be useful to determine up front how you plan to use your blog. The first step in making this decision is often figuring out your audience and then adapting as you continue on your blogging journey.
Stay open minded and don’t be afraid to change course due to either your own passions and interests, or audience feedback. Often, your blog might end up targeting multiple audience types which can open doors to amazing opportunities. Good luck!
Leave a comment and let us know who you see as your audience for your blog, and how you cater to them.