One of the most interesting homework assignments I give my students is to start a blog and maintain it over the class term. This assignment really helps the students understand what it takes to create and maintain a social media property. Last night, we discussed the process of blogging and the student reactions to it.
Choosing a Topic
Some students found it difficult to find a topic they could blog about for several weeks. They had a lot of ideas but weren't sure which they could sustain!
Teacher's Advice: Always choose a topic you are passionate about. If you hope to make money from your blog someday, be sure to choose a topic others are passionate about as well. :)
Naming Your Blog
Other students struggled with finding the right name. They had noticed that, given a list of blogs, they would be more inclined to read those that had interesting names.
Teacher's Advice: While a good blog name is important, the more critical aspect of blogging is the actual content that goes on the page. A good name may bring someone to your blog once; great content brings them back!
Finding Your Blogging Voice
Students also shared they had a hard time deciding what the tone of the blog should be. Should it be very professional, with sentences properly thought-out? Should it be casual, as if one was carrying on a live conversation? The students are writing blogs on both ends of that spectrum, and both are generally OK!
Teacher's Advice: Write in a way that is natural for you and also encourages your readers to participate in the conversation.
Determining Blog Goals
One of the most important aspects of creating a new blog is deciding what you want the blog to accomplish. Is it a blog to educate others on a certain topic? Are you trying to persuade people to your side? Do you want to be seen as a content expert in a certain area?
Teacher's Advice: Determine your goals, and your audience, before writing even one post. Then, use those goals to guide you on future content, frequency, voice, and linking strategies.
Please check out the blogs from both this term (Fall 08) and last term (Summer 08) on the right. A blog to note is Blogging Around the World. This blog was started last term here in the USA which the student, Nicoletta, has decided to continue now that she is back home in Rome. She even attended a Web 2.0/blogging conference in Italy - both as an observer and as a participant. Well done, Nicoletta!