This post was originally published last year as 10 Blogging Tips for Students and Teachers.
As I regularly help students and other teachers set up their blogs, I find myself giving lots of little tips that I have picked up on my own blogging journey.
My list of tips keeps expanding and I thought it was timely to republish an updated version of this post.
Many of these ideas have originally come from some of my blogging “mentors” such as Linda Yollis and Sue Waters.
Here are 10 15 Blogging Tips for Students and Teachers
1. Post frequency: Find a balance. Don’t post too often (ie. daily) otherwise you will not be able to generate much conversation through commenting and readers won’t be able to keep up. Post too infrequently (ie. monthly) and your readers might start to forget about you.
I advise my students to post no more than once or twice a week, while three times a week works well for my class blog. Decide what works for you.
2. Reply to comments: I am often disappointed by student and adult bloggers who do not reply to their comments on their own blog. I feel that it is basic blogging etiquette to reply. Acknowledge your readers’ comments, interact with them and they will be encouraged to comment again.
3. Have an “About” page: The first thing I do when I visit a new blog is look at the About page. I am always disappointed when there isn’t one! Don’t keep your readers in the dark about who you are and what you’re blogging about.
4. Theme changes: Students love playing around with different themes when they first start blogging. I encourage them to explore for a week or so but then advice them to find a good theme and stick with it. Readers may be able to identify less with your blog if it looks different every time they visit it.
5. Fun widgets: Young bloggers love widgets! In my opinion, it is advisable to limit “fun” or “novelty” widgets. Too many widgets take away from the actual content of the blog posts and can slow down loading time! I suggest my students have no more than three “fun widgets” such as virtual pets, Christmas countdowns, jokes, tips, music clips etc.
6. Add a search box: Early on in the year, I teach my students how to use the search box on blogs to find content. I find it frustrating when blogs don’t have the search box. This simple tool allows readers to find what they’re looking for and means when your posts are no longer on the front page, they won’t be lost.
7. Subscribe via email: While I also use Google Reader and Twitter to keep track of blogs I like, I love having the ability to subscribe via email to my favourite blogs. Adding this feature could bring more regular visitors to your blog.
8. Add links to blog posts and comments: Links help your visitors gain a deeper understanding of what they’re reading. Links in blog posts can also be used to acknowledge or compliment others’ work. Links in blog comments can add extra information to a conversation. If you don’t know how to add a link to a blog comment, check out Linda Yollis’ excellent blog post and quick video.
9. Visit other blogs: You can’t expect many people to read and comment on your blog if you don’t read and comment on others’ blogs. You have to be part of the blogging community to get the most out of blogging.
10. End with a question: On my class blog and this blog I like to end with a question to stimulate and direct conversation in the comment section. My Grade Two bloggers are learning how to ask “broader” questions that will appeal to more readers (eg. if a child writes a post about a holiday to Noosa, instead of simply asking “have you ever been to Noosa?” they could ask readers to leave a comment and describe a holiday they have been on etc).
11. Don’t lose your comment: All my students now know how to select all (Control A) and copy (Control C) their comment before they hit “submit”. This allows them to paste (Control V) the comment if something goes wrong when they hit the “submit” button. This happens fairly frequently with young students due to the wrong spam word being entered etc. Read My grade two student Millie’s post about this tip here.
12. Left align your writing: I used to be guilty of centering all of my text until I realised this is not easy on the eye and not what professional writers do (always good to look to the professionals for guidance when in doubt). Style guides usually suggest that centered text is best for invitations, posters, headings etc.
13. Use paragraphs and sub-headings: As a writer, you need to do as much as you can to make your post easy to read. I am likely to stop reading something that doesn’t have any paragraph breaks. The more your writing is spaced out the better. Having key words or sub heading in bold/colour can also make your post easier on the eye.
14. Don’t copy and paste from MS Word: If you’ve been blogging for a while you may have experienced the dreaded consequence of copying and pasting text from Microsoft Word into a blog post. It is a big no no! Doing this can give you bad code which can ruin the layout of your blog.
If you do want to copy and paste from Word you either need to paste the text into the HTML section of your editor or paste the text into Notepad (or the Mac equivalent) and then copy and paste that text into your post editor. If you want to read more about this, check out Sue Waters’ post here.
15. Stick with it: One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is to give up too easily. Stick with it and reap the rewards!
Are any of these tips new ideas for you?
What other blogging tips can you think of? There must be lots more!