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Managing your blogging expectations
Managing your blogging expectations
Managing your blogging expectations
Managing your blogging expectations
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Managing your blogging expectations

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Managing your blogging expectations

Managing your blogging expectations

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  • 1. Managing your blogging expectations ....................................................................... 1 Where do I start? I have never blogged!................................................................. 1 How will people learn about my blog?................................................................... 1 How do I get people ‘permanently’ interested in my blog? .................................... 1 What does an online professional network mean for blogging? .............................. 2 How do I find ‘my network/community’ online? ................................................... 2 How long will it take until people get to know me through my blog?..................... 2 How much time should I spend blogging? ............................................................. 2 What should I blog about? ..................................................................................... 3 How technical should my blog be? ........................................................................ 3 How can I measure the success of my blog? .......................................................... 3 How can I improve the traffic of my blog? ............................................................ 3 Acknowledgements ................................................................................................... 4 Managing your blogging expectations Blogs are home to individuals’ public thoughts and ideas. Do not start a blog to become popular. See a blog as a shared space for reflection and creation of dialogues. If you blog frequently and share relevant ideas, there is a pretty good chance it will eventually become known in your area. Nevertheless, it will take time. Below, we have tried to answer some questions frequently asked when people decide to venture into the blogsphere. Where do I start? I have never blogged! Identify blogs in your area of research. Take some time to read them. Look at their writing style. Check who is reading and commenting on those blogs. This will help you link to other people in the field, and getting a feeling about what is being blogged and how. Then start your own. Use a style that matches your personality, and which you feel comfortable with. (More on setting up a blog on the Social Network Site Guidelines document) How will people learn about my blog? There are millions of blogs in cyberspace. The chances of people finding your blog on a random search are slim. Nevertheless, with time, the more popular the blog becomes, the higher it will be indexed by search engines. Word of mouth is probably still the best advertising strategy to alert people about your blog. Commenting on other people’s blogs is another. How do I get people ‘permanently’ interested in my blog? Unless you are a blogging star, you will need to keep reminding people of it. The best way to bring people on to your blog is to visit theirs. Online your presence is only made noticeable by the footprint you leave on the places you visit. In this case it means you need to comment on other people’s posts. Add something to their text. ‘Spice up’ the discussion with some additional questions/remarks. Help them make it interesting. They will reciprocate if they think what you are blogging about adds value to their area of studies. 1
  • 2. What does an online professional network mean for blogging? Professional connections play a very important role! Identifying a group of people online who are interested in your area and starting interacting with them is vital to your ‘blogging career’. They will help you raise your profile and you will help raise theirs. Just blogging sometimes is not enough. You need to participate in collective spaces where your academic community engages in discussions, share your thoughts and reflect about those same discussions in your blog. Remember to point your connections to your blog then. Other social network sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn are proving to be an effective channel for like-minded people to congregate, ask questions and give answers, share links to resources, etc. They are equally effective channels for connecting people to your main, personal and interactive web presence: your blog. Nonetheless, we do not recommend you engage with all these tools at once. Taking part in too many networks at the same time can be overwhelming. It is better to take a moderate approach when it comes to use social media, than to try everything available on the web to then give it all up because it was just too much! Take a step back and analyse the activity of your academic community. Join the spaces where your professional peers are most likely to be found. One at a time! How do I find ‘my network/community’ online? Some academic areas are more active online than others. The best way to go about it is to look at what other academics are doing. Search for their academic profiles, see if they take part in any thematic communities and networks, and join the networks they are ‘endorse’. Sometimes, people add links to those collective spaces on their websites and/or blogs. How long will it take until people get to know me through my blog? There are no recipes for this. All we can say is that it usually does not happen from day to night. It should not be a reason for you to give up blogging after the first weeks, or even months. See it as a process. And mainly do it for yourself with the benefit of it being shared with a wider audience. It is an interesting way of developing your writing skills and ideas in a written format. It can help you keep focused too. With time, and if you are persistent in your blogging strategy, your blog will start to get more attention. How much time should I spend blogging? Time management is important when venturing into the blogsphere. Try not to spend more than a hour a day reading others’ blogs. If we allow ourselves, we can spend hours reading blogpost which link to other blogposts and resources, which link to other blogposts and resources… Thus, there is a need to be selective, just as much as when we are in a library. We cannot read all the books available. We need to prioritise our readings with regards to our own learning goals. Follow the blogs of people who produce the most relevant content in your area. Important in your selection too is the network they have already created around them. Do they get comments from other equally knowledgeable people? If so, then those are blogs you might also want to 2
  • 3. follow, because they are the one which most likely aggregate the most pertinent discussions and offer a wealthier variety of perspectives. What should I blog about? There are many things you can blog about within the scope of your research. You can blog about your ‘academic’ perspective regarding a current event in your area; report about an event; share a research presentation; provide your views on a given topic; reflect about your own research project, etc without ever putting the anonymity of your research participants at risk or break any ethics agreement. Eg.: You are researching obesity in young children. From your research data you are starting to see a correlation between overweight children and the food served at the school canteen where your research is taking place. You don’t need to point the finger at the schools you are conducting your research at, but you can blog (‘philosophise’) about the role of schools in providing healthy food and modelling healthier eating habits; provide a summary with your personal views on research conducted in this area, etc How technical should my blog be? It all depends who your target audience is. Are you interested in capturing the interest of other researchers, or are you using the blog to attack a wider audience, a community engagement kind of blog? Specialised audiences will understand jargon used in your field. However, if your goal is to target a more ‘generic’ audience, then make sure to use plain English, which in itself is a great skill to have (and develop). Not only people working in your field are interested in your area of studies! Making it accessible is not a bad idea at all. How can I measure the success of my blog? Again, that is a tricky question to answer. Are you interested in the numbers of hits your blog gets daily?; the discussions it generates?, or the benefits you will personally gain from it by exercising your written thought? Do not see blogging as a site hit counter! Look at it from a qualitative perspective. It can enable you to talk about your research and share it with others. Of course, we all like others to acknowledge our contributions with the comments they provide. Just remember, communication is a two way road. How can I improve the traffic of my blog? Although your blogging activity should not be driven by the numbers of visit it gets, it is only human to be curious about the number of visits or origin of our blog readers. Google Analytics or Feedburner are probably two of the best plug-ins you can use to retrieve information about blog visitors. Furthermore, it is said to help your blog to become indexed in google’s search engine much faster. Nevertheless, this should never be the focus of your blogging activity. Do not let the blog stats discourage you from blogging! 3
  • 4. Acknowledgements Many thanks to the colleagues who provided constructive feedback and suggestions to improve this document. They are: Erin Kreeger (blogging at: http://ekreeger.wordpress.com ) Frances Bell (blogging at: http://francesbell.com ) Gareth Morris (blogging at: http://placeattachment.com ) Steve Mackenzie (blogging at: http://learnadoodledastic.blogspot.com ) Last updated: 02 June 2010 Cristina Costa C.MendesdaCosta@salford.ac.uk Research and Graduate College University of Salford This work has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non- Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported Licence. More on CC licenses here 4

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