Showing posts with label blog tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blog tips. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

12 Lessons from 12,000 Blog Posts

It occurred to me the other day as I was watching the Red Sox home opener that over the course of the last ten years I've written and published more than 12,000 blog posts across this blog and a few others that I maintain. When I realized that I took out my notebook and jotted down twelve lessons that I've learned through the course of publishing 12,000 blog posts.

1. You've got to have a purpose.

2. It's not a get-rich-quick scheme.

3. Everyone's a critic.

4. Comparisons are silly. (In the image of my notebook you'll see that I wrote "everyone is lying" in parentheses. What I really mean is that everyone tends to show only the best parts of themselves online, it's much like online dating sites).

5. Share a lot, but don't give it all away.

6. Ask for what you want.

7. Protect your property.

8. Focus your time.

9. Ads suck, but there's money to be made.

10. Keep tinkering.

11. It's not about you.

12. Stay the course...until you need to change course.

If you're interested in learning how all of these lessons can help you, check out my course From Blog to Job - A Teacherpreneur Jumpstart

Monday, March 20, 2017

Why You Should Use Videos In Your Blog

Using videos in blog posts helps to keep visitors on your blog longer. For teachers and school administrators, adding a videos to your blog is a good way to show students and parents who you are and what you sound like. And, of course, videos are helpful when you're explaining something that needs visuals in order to make sense.

I share many more strategies for improving your blog in Winning Blog Strategies.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Why You Should Try to Use Video on Your Blog

This morning Isla and I posted a short video on YouTube to explain why you should try to include videos in your blog posts. Using videos in blog posts helps to keep visitors on your blog longer. For teachers and school administrators, adding a videos to your blog is a good way to show students and parents who you are and what you sound like. And, of course, videos are helpful when you're explaining something that needs visuals in order to make sense.

I'll be sharing many more strategies for improving your blog in tomorrow's Wednesday Webinar, Winning Blog Strategies.

Monday, November 28, 2016

9 Lessons Learned Through Nine Years of Blogging

Today marks the ninth birthday for this little blog that I started on a Wednesday evening in 2007. Read that first post and you'll see that I didn't have much in the way of goals or expectations for this blog. It was just something I was doing to help other teachers. Back then I didn't have any idea that I would publish nearly 12,000 blog posts about educational technology. Along the way to publishing I've learned a lot about education, blogging, and business. Here's a short summary of the highlights of the last nine years.

1. Publish early, publish often.
This is a tip that I learned early on from Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable. Not only does this help for SEO purposes it helps me maintain the habit of writing everyday.

2. Ad revenue is a terrible business model for a blog.
Ad revenue relies on pageviews, pageviews rely on constantly publishing new content. Constantly publishing new content can be a challenge when you feel like you've written everything that you can think of. You need a team of writers to produce the quantity of content needed to survive on ad revenue alone. I don't want to manage a team of writers.

3. People are generally good and nice. 
This lesson has been reinforced to me many times over the years, but there are two times that stand-out from the rest. First, in 2009 when a Twitter follower, Beth Still, organized the NECC Newbie Project to crowd-source the funds to get me to the NECC (now ISTE) conference. Second, when my beloved dog, Morrison, passed away in September last year I received hundreds of emails people expressing their condolences. Larry Kelly's email moved me to tears and still does when I think about it.

4. A few rotten comments can stick with you for a long time.
Fortunately, I can only remember of handful of these.

5. Read, read, read!
Read blogs, read books, read magazines, read the flyers in a doctor's office waiting room. You never know when something you read will inspire a blog post. There have been many times when I was reading a book completely unrelated to educational technology when something I read sparks an idea for a blog post here.

6. Cite your sources and fight plagiarism. 
When someone else inspires a blog post that you write, acknowledge that person even. I forgot to do this once and I was thoroughly embarrassed.

If someone is copying and pasting your blog posts verbatim, call him/ her out on it. Don't let them get away with, "I was just trying to share it with my teachers." Tell them to direct people back to you. A lot of plagiarism in the ed tech world seems to originate from the idea that it's okay to copy and paste if you're doing it to share with other teachers. Educate others on proper ways to share blog posts.

7. Give the people what they want.
When someone makes a reasonable request for help, answer them. Turn those answers into blog posts. I learned this lesson from the late Allen Stern who ran Center Networks. I miss that guy.

8. Everything changes.
When I started this blog MySpace was still more popular than Facebook. iPads and Android tablets weren't a thing. Chromebooks didn't exist although we did have netbooks running Windows XP (I used one throughout 2009). What I wrote about in 2007 and 2008 seems like ancient history. Some of the things I reviewed back then is still relevant, but a lot of it isn't. Adapt or die...

9. It's the readers that matter.
This blog wouldn't still be going today without all of you who follow this blog and share it with your friends and colleagues. Thank you!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Weekend Project - Identify a Goal for Your Blog

When it comes to blogging one of the patterns that I see every school year starts to emerge around this time of year. That pattern is, our blogs that we started with the best of intentions in August start to lose their momentum. It's easy to blame the tasks of the daily grind of the school year for getting in the way of maintaining your blog. That is definitely a valid challenge. Another challenge is thinking of things to publish on your blog.

When you're struggling for ideas for things to post on your blog, ask yourself, "what is the goal of my blog?" Here are some common goals and actions that you can take toward reaching those goals.

  • Goal: Reaching more parents.
    • Action: think about the questions that parents have when they email or call you. Write some blog posts that address the most frequently asked questions. Close your post by inviting parents to ask more questions. 

  • Goal: Encouraging students to write.
    • Action: expand the topics of your blog posts. For example, if you're a history teacher it is easy to fall into the trap of only publishing posts directly related to a topic in history. Expand your topics to include things that might not be directly related to one of your recent lessons. Try publishing a post about a current article from the fields of science or technology then asking students to share their thoughts on it. Or better yet, let them choose a topic for group discussion on the blog. 

  • Goal: Helping other teachers:
    • Action: first identify your area of expertise then make a list of ten things you wish you had known before you became an expert on that topic. Then draft one blog post about each of those ten things. For example, let's say you're good at helping emerging readers decode text. Create a list of things that you do to help students in that area. Then write a blog post about each of those things. 
Topics like this one and many others are covered in Blogs & Social Media for Teachers & School Leaders. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

How to Put a Random Name Selector In Your Blog

Whether it is to call on a student to answer a question during a lesson or two choose a line leader for the day, we all have occasions for using a random name selector. The Random Name Picker from Russel Tarr's  is one of those tools that can be used in almost every classroom setting. You can use it as a stand-alone tool or you can embed it directly into a page on your classroom blog. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to embed a random name picker into your classroom blog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Three Things That Get People to Read Your School or Classroom Blog

I run a lot of workshops for teachers and school administrators about using blogs and social media to connect with students and their parents. At the beginning of those workshops I almost always ask some variation of the question, "have you ever started a blog and then stopped using it?" Most of the time many people say yes. When I follow-up on that the reason I'm given more than any other is, "no one was reading it." There three things that anyone can do to get more people to consistently visit a blog.

1. Be helpful! If what you post on your school, library, or classroom blog is helpful to parents and students, they will come back to it consistently. Being helpful means solving problem for parents or giving students a handy tutorial. Being helpful does not mean simply reminding someone of a deadline because while that is mildly helpful, it's not the kind of thing that keeps someone interested in what you're sharing.

2. Be consistent. It is better to publish twice a week on the same day and time than it is to post five times at sporadic intervals. We're creatures of habit. Once we get in the habit of checking a blog on Monday and Thursday, we'll keep doing it. One of my favorite blogs is one that I don't even subscribe to because I know that every Tuesday and Sunday morning there will be a new post. Should you find yourself in need of blog topic ideas, check out these methods for developing blog post topics.

3. Say more! I see a lot of school blogs, particularly blogs created for faculty, that simply post a list of "interesting" links with a note like, "hey guys, check these out." Add a little original content to those links you're sharing. Tell your colleagues why you're sharing and why it should matter to them.

If you're looking to better utilize blogs and social media in your school, consider joining my class Blogs & Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders. You can even earn three graduate credits for your effort. The next class begins on Thursday. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Short Summary of Best Practices for Using Images in Blog Posts

Freeport, Maine - July 2014
In Wednesday's post, What Is Hotlinking? I gave an overview of the potential problems associated with linking to images on the web. At the end of that post I included a short summary of best practices for using images in blog posts. Since it was buried at the end of a post that was otherwise fairly technical and lacking of a catchy title, I think it is worth sharing those best practices again in this dedicated post.

Best practices for using images in blog posts.
  1. Always try to use images that you own and upload to your blog. 
  2. If you don't own a suitable image then look for images in the public domain. Pixabay is a good place to look. Download the image and upload to your blog. 
  3. If you cannot find a suitable image in the public domain then look for images that have Creative Commons licenses attached to them. makes this easy to do. Download the image, upload it to your blog, give proper attribution to the owner of the image. Alan Levine's CC Attribution Helper also makes it easy to format image citations. 
  4. If items 1, 2, and 3 above didn't provide you with a suitable image then you can attempt to use an image under Fair Use guidelines. Fair Use is a murky water so Fair Use should be your last resort. If 1, 2, and 3 failed to produce a suitable image, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3 until you find a suitable image.
Disclosure: is owned by StoryboardThat, an advertiser on this blog