Miguel Guhlin just wrote a great post in response to Brian’s thoughts. In my COETAIL course yesterday we had a great discussion around how blogging was going for those in the class. All of them just 5 weeks into blogging. It was interesting to hear that many of them say blogging as publishing. That they had a lot of drafts waiting to be published but they wanted them to be “perfect” or “publishable”.
“The thought that other can read this, that a future employee can read this makes me want it to be publishable.”
It was great to listen to them talk among themselves and the different feelings they had about being a blogger. They asked me what I thought and along with Miguel talking about how he writes a blog post I thought I’d share my thoughts.
1. Blog topics are all around you
You are passionate about something whether teaching, technology, your kids or your car. Be passionate and writing is easy. If your not passionate about the post, or idea, you’ll know cause you just won’t do it.
This makes it hard when a teacher (like me) asks you to blog about something you might not be passionate about. That makes blogging an assignment….not real blogging. Real blogging is about you….about your thoughts, your feelings, your ideas…..the blogging you do for classroom, is just classwork.
2. Write down ideas or topics
At least two or three times a day I think to myself “that’s a blog topic” and for a while I would sit down to write a blog post and not be able to remember what it was that spurred that moments thought. So I’ve started writing blog topic ideas down. I use the stickies app on my MacBook and Google Tasks via a Chrome extension that lets me quickly jot down topics. I also have a notebook in my backpack for those times when a computer isn’t near to jot stuff down in. Everything from grocery lists, to blog topics. Lastly, I use my iPhone where I have a page of notes that are blog topics. No, you don’t have to have as many places as I do, but I know those are the spots I look for when I have time. Not all ideas make it to a full blog post, some get crossed out, others get folded into each other. It’s the brainstorm phase of writing….just like we teach kids. 🙂
3. Keeping web pages organized
This came up in class yesterday. How do you keep all those sites open, or organize that you want to talk about in a blog post? In Firefox I use an extension called Tabloc that allows me to ‘Lock’ a tab (still looking for a good one for Chrome is anyone has one!). So if my browser closes or I need to restart those tabs that are locked, stay safe and saved. I also have gotten better at tagging web pages in Diigo and using the highlight features as well. Social bookmarking takes time to understand and time to find out how tagging works and how to use it for you. I have a system that works for me and I’m going on 5 years without using bookmarks within my browser…..everything is in Diigo and Delicious (which are connected so when I save to Diigo it auto-saves it to Delicious….a perfect backup system!)
4. Find a blogging interface that works for you.
There are many different blogging interfaces that you can use to actually write your blog post in. I’m a huge fan, and honestly would have a hard time blogging without ScribeFire (Firefox Add-on). I’ve tired to blog just using WordPress and visually it just doesn’t do it for me. I know that many people use the Flock Web Browser and find the built in blogging application very good (I think it’s my second favorite). Scribefire is the only reason I still use Firefox. My day to day browsing has moved to Chrome and I find that I don’t blog as much because it means going someplace else to write. That’s what I love about ScribeFire, it’s just there, in your browser waiting for you to start writing.
Take time to try out a couple blogging applications and see if one fits you and your style. You gotta be comfortable with your flow of thought, writing, and idea process otherwise writing will become a chore not a pleasure.
5. Finding your Flow
In the end….I think it’s about finding your flow. Some people blog at the same time every day. I know Kim Cofino (cause we talk about this kind of stuff in the office) does most of her blogging on the weekend, because that’s what works for her. I found that I need it cool, I blog better, ideas flow when I’m in a cooler temperature. So I either blog in my home office with the A/C on or here on the couch with a fan blowing on me to keep me cool. I didn’t realize this was an issue for a long time here in Bangkok. It’s only been about 6 months that I realize I don’t write because I’m uncomfortable, hot, sticky, and not in a thinking mode.
Find your flow, find which time/day works for you, what place, which application. Take time to try things out. I’m constantly looking for another blogging application to replace ScribeFire and just haven’t found one that I like better…that enhances my flow of ideas and process of writing.
6. Write to your community ~ Know your audience
blog website whether you like it or not is about branding. Your audience want’s to know what they are going to get when they go to your site. You know what to expect when you go to CNN, BBC, NYTimes, TechCrunch, Mashable, etc. Your blog needs to have a focus. That doesn’t mean you can’t go off topic once in awhile, but the majority of your blog posts should be to a specific audience. I focus broadly on education and specifically on educational technology. But I also talk about my love of baseball and travel as well……after all it is my site. 😉
So that’s it…find your flow, find your audience and blogging can be enjoyable.