Wednesday 14 July 2010

Guest Post by Karenne Joy Sylvester

3. The Best Edu-Bloggers Write Often

Whether you aim to write 200 word thought pieces or 2,500 word academic essays, as I mentioned in part 1 of this article, it takes time to blog.

Unless you're paid to blog and tweet on behalf of a company or you're currently in between jobs/ are an ex-teacher/ part-time trainer or superman, then it is unlikely that you will have time to blog daily.

When you're starting out, it can be incredibly daunting to discover that 800 word articles take 8 hours to write.

Add to that time the time you need to edit, to rewrite your posts because you've just got to get them perfect - there'll be other teachers/ students reading it after all - well, you might end up feeling like packing up shop after just three or four posts. Might as well stick to writing for teaching journals.

But here's the thing, you're honing a craft.

A very special, emerging craft.

You're developing a life skill and trust me, after you've been doing it for a while, those 800 words will begin to fall from your fingers in less than an hour. Over the months, once you've stuck with your blog, you'll find yourself organizing your thoughts way before you hit the page and you'll become more confident in the strength of your voice; more in touch with your style with its stable (or diverse) personalities and you'll lose the (ego)attachment to perfection:
you can always edit, it's yours, you know - it's online - it doesn't matter if that that i wasn't dotted or that t wasn't crossed, most people don't mind, and if they do...
keep focused,

keep in mind that blogging is a written conversation which occurs within a community and as in speech: we forgive, on the page: we forgive.

Many other niche areas of blogging have readers in the millions. To stay fresh for their readers they do need to post obsessively, on the hour, but our readers are mostly made up of other educators or students or our parenting communities - many of whom are regular and loyal readers and they simply do not have the time to listen to your thoughts, participate in your conversations at the same rate of output - to be honest, if you do this, apart from burning yourself out, you might end up finding some of your followers actually becoming a bit irritated with the feedburner's delivery of your posts into their in-boxes/Google readers, watching you fill their twitter stream every day.

However, if your goal is indeed to move on, beyond from blogging as a hobby or from using your page to make announcements of your upcoming training sessions, boast about recent achievements, awards or the place where you go to rant about life's injustices but instead you've decided that you would really like to become a lead blogger in your edu-niche or the sub-sub-sub niche of that, then you really must persuade your stubborn, lazy fingers to tap at that keyboard more than once a month.

You must arrive at the page as often as you can make the time to do so.

*click here to read full-sized + legend







Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers, refers to 10,000 hours as being the time required to become truly successful in anything that people set out to do and all those who made it there, started out with their first hour and then one hour after that, and another hour after that...


Google is a hungry beast: it needs feeding with fresh content regularly or it'll dismiss your blog and all of its posts and in the end, send you packing, out to the outer realms of the nether-sphere.


Your readers will get completely bored with you if you're constantly apologizing for, yet again, writing to say you have nothing to say. Schedule slots, regular chunks of time into your diary, fix an editorial calendar to the wall and take it seriously; convince yourself that those deadlines are as important as anything else in your life.

In fact, ask yourself:
  • How can I make the time to provide content consistently?
  • What commitments do I currently have that I can get rid of?
  • What television programs do I really not need to watch?
  • Can I wake up an hour earlier? (I did that for a year)
  • Can I go to bed an hour later? (I do that still).

4. The best edu-bloggers understand that

Content is King

Content is everything and don't let anyone tell you different(ly).

Above everything else, what you have on your page and within your archives is what determines, what separates an amazing Edu-blog from other blogs. It isn't about what connections you have, privately or via social-media, it isn't the back-links you have or don't have, it isn't what you have done or haven't done in your life up to the point when you enter the 'sphere.

And seriously, I mean - how can I say this strongly enough - completely forget about stupid, illusory things like counting the number of hits you receive; do not count how many comments you get versus how many another blogger got.

Your own personal readers might not feel like commenting, are shy, don't feel like they have anything to add - some people don't like to be the first commenter or commenter number 15+, some people only comment on blogs written by VIPs (to get their attention) so ignore this.

In fact, never,
ever, ever, ever
compare yourself
to someone else
who you think
is getting more attention
than you are.

Abandon those thoughts.

Hits, number of visitors, they are not important and they take a really long time to build.

This is not why you entered the blogosphere. In today's long process, this journey towards the democratization of education, in this level playing field you have now entered or are considering entering, you lone blogger teacher: you are writing with not against your peers so even though competitiveness can be healthy, don't let it shape or cause you to abandon, your work.

To become a truly great edu-blogger, stay true to your purpose and passion: you are making a repository of articles, you are honing your skill, you are learning your craft. You are creating a body of work and this will astound you, once the years past and you look back and see your own professional growth.

If you remember this - keeping it as your priority - you will never become discouraged.

And all the other stuff follows, in its own time. Once the world has realized that, indeed, you have made with your own two hands something worthy of commenting, praising, reTweeting, conversing, sharing with friends and linking to from other blogs, then you will still be there, still with both feet planted on the ground and you'll be able to keep churning out the good stuff.

Any questions?

image credit
Google in the afternoon, after Gari Melchers by Mike Licht,

This post is part of a new series: Thoughts on Edu-blogging. For part 3 of this particular article, please visit Berni Wall's blog (coming soon). For glossaries related to some of the jargon mentioned in this article, see Mike Harrison's blog and Sue Lyon Jones on words related to the word blog. Please view Nick Jaworski's blog for "The Dogma of Blogging".

(c) KarenneJoySylvester, 2010
Karenne is an ELT-edu-blogger, a ESP:IT teacher, EdTech teacher-trainer and materials writer, originally from Grenada in the Caribbean. She currently lives in Stuttgart, Germany and blogs at Kalinago English ('s #2 Global Language Teaching Blogs) and BusinessEnglish~5mins.

Find her on Twitter as @kalinagoenglish.

I am very honoured to have Karenne do this amazing guest post on my blog. She is my inspirational mentor. I owe a lot to her generosity of spirit. Her continuing quest to help fellow edubloggers is awesome. My heartfelt thanks, dear Karenne.


Darren Elliott said...

I aim at once a week... and on average I hit it. But I disagree that you HAVE to post. Some of my favourites very rarely post - Sara Hannam is the perfect example. She puts things up once a month or less, but it is always solid gold and worth the attention.

Quality beats quantity.

Leahn said...

Hi Karenne,

Really solid advice thanks. It's definitely not easy.I can see why many people give up after a few months or posts.

I started my blog as part of a course on Integrating technologies that I went to here in Spain. All of the teachers set up blogs to use in class and I set up my little one.

I've gone through the obsessive checking to see how many visits I've had. The comments counting and now I've settled for something in between.

I aim to post once a week or every ten days no more. I really admire all the bloggers out there that I read and am trying to find my own voice! It's a work in progress.



Tara Benwell said...

This should be required reading for all bloggers, Karenne. I'm bookmarking this one! Thanks for always being there to pump us up. An abridged version of this blog post would be really useful for our MyEC English learner bloggers...You could post it on your MyEC page.

Then again, I don't know how you are keeping up with all of these awesome guest posts!


Hey T,

Will definitely do that - will you jog my memory in 2 weeks, got to finish this article but yes, making it snappy and useful for students would be a very good idea. Thanks.


We all go through that! Keep chugging away.

Well, thanx for disagreeing but as great as Sara's blog is, which it is, it's never going to make the "road map" - quality is a wonderful thing if the random teacher can find it. There's really nothing wrong with being a hobbyist blogger or a part-time blogger or a once in a blue moon blogger - nought at all, even Gavin only posts once every 6 weeks or so. This article (in series) is aimed at providing some of the tips I learned along the way - especially for those bloggers who would really like to have their blog reach a wider, global audience in their niche.


Nick Jaworski said...

What if you simply want to tell the world about your awesomeness? What if actually the world needs to know. Otherwise they will miss out. I think google should make special allowances for such super bloggers. Do you know of any such google program/app :)?

Janet Bianchini said...

Hi all

I feel really privileged that this awesome series has made its way into my blog here. It is so important when you are a newbie blogger to have some guidelines to help you, and to have an idea of where it is all leading to.

The problem is that usually one doesn't know where a blog can lead to until one has experimented. You have to keep chugging away! A little bit at a time.

I just knew that I wanted to write about my experiences and share the process with other teachers in a virtual classroom/staffroom. That was my main goal, I think.

What has evolved is way beyond my modest expectations.

Thank you Karenne for helping all us Edubloggers to get onto the right track.