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Blogging 101 for Academics

Have you thought about starting a blog, but are unsure where to start? There are plenty of blog posts from academic bloggers that cover the many benefits of blogging, but if you’ve already made the decision to start – what now?

  1. Create your blog. There are many free services available that make it easy and fun to create a blog or website. There are often options to upgrade to paid services, but when you’re just starting out there is plenty of free content to choose from in terms of design and layout. WordPress is a popular option – and what we use for The Source; Blogger – a Google product; and Tumblr, which is especially useful if you’re interested in something that is more image based. There are endless options to choose from. It doesn’t hurt to open a few accounts to see which platform you like the best.
  2. Create the basic bones of the blog. Set-up a design and layout. Make sure the name of your blog is prominently displayed, and that your name and contact information can be easily located. You never know if a post may lead to a collaboration or an invitation to speak at a conference.
  3. Draft a schedule of what you would like to write about. A simple spreadsheet can help you keep track of post topics, and the dates you’d like for things to publish. As you begin to build an audience it’s ideal to post as often as possible. Aim for posting once or twice a week. If inspiration strikes, and you write several posts at one time, be sure to spread out the posting dates with the “scheduling” function on your blog.
  4. Add an image to your post. It may not seem necessary, but it’s been reported that articles with images get 94% more views than those without. Find images that are free to use under creative commons licenses on websites like Flickr and WikiMedia Commons. If it’s relevant for your blog’s tone, use pictures you take yourself too. Personalizing a blog is a great way to connect with your readers.
  5. Capitalize on popular topics on the web. Stuck on a post idea for the day or week? Hoping to bump up visitors to your blog? Check out Google Trends. See what people are talking about, and if a subject matches the tone and theme of your blog, write a post about it.
  6. Tell people about your blog! Include your blog link in your e-mail signature. Each time you post something new, share your blog post on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and any other social media channels you use. If your privacy settings are restrictive, make sure you set these posts to “public” so that others can easily share your blog links.
  7. Find other like-minded bloggers. Once you’ve built up a steady stream of posts, see if other bloggers you follow may be interested in doing a “guest post” on your blog where they provide content in exchange for a link back to their own blog. See if anyone might be interested in letting you guest post on their blog. Leave comments on blogs that include a link back to your own, offering your own opinion and insight. In this way you gain more exposure, gaining new readers that may not have found your blog otherwise.

Featured Image: Blog by NOGRAN s.r.o. CC 2.0 via Flickr.

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