Monday, September 12, 2016

The Problem With Automating Your Blog

The web is great. Everyday a new tool appears that makes some task easier than ever to accomplish. But not every task that can be automated should be automated. For example, let's say you decide that your organization (perhaps SETDA) needs a blog, but you cannot find time to have someone actually write blog posts on a regular basis. So instead of making a commitment to authentic blogging you find a free blog template and some free software that automatically aggregates and displays blog posts from the RSS feeds of some popular blogs that you like. Then you sit back and never have to worry about your blog (perhaps called EdTechUpdate) again because all the work is done for you. If only it was that simple...

The problems with creating a blog that just aggregates and displays blog posts from RSS feeds:
1. If you use the wrong settings, you'll end up publishing full blog posts without permission of the authors. In other words, you've just automated your plagiarism.

2. You're not really doing anything to promote your own thoughts or your organization's mission. Even an blog run by an organization should have some kind of voice of its own. Take a look at any of the large, successful, multiple author blogs and you'll notice that their is an editorial style present throughout the blog.

3. The service that you think you're providing, isn't much of a service. Sure, some people might discover a new blog through your aggregation, but that's about it. Once they've found a new blog that they like, they're going to visit it directly instead of going through your aggregation of dozens of feeds.

Things you can do instead of automating your blog:
1. Put someone in charge of writing original blog posts on a regular schedule. One post per week on the same day is better than five posts randomly distributed throughout a month. Take a look at as an example. I publish only one post per week on it and it has 11,500 subscribers. It serves my mission of providing practical tech tips for teachers.

2. If you must use other bloggers' content, add to it with your own thoughts and commentary. Explain to your audience why you think someone else's blog post was particularly useful and worth sharing.

3. Use social media and email to distribute the handful of original blog posts that you do publish. Even on their favorite blogs most people don't read see every post the first time it's published. Use social media and email to redistribute your original posts on a regular schedule.

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