Squeezed in between all my many work-life strands of practice and study, I went to a two-hour ‘Introduction to Blogging’ course by Dave Allen, Digital Marketing Manager at Birmingham City University (actually two of my fellow research students were supposed to attend for the forthcoming development of the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts (CCVA) blog…but they didn’t turn up). Even though I’m an avid blogger, it’s always to good to refresh, reframe and gain further insight and information into what I do to see if I could do things differently…and as I always realise YES I CAN. Well, there are always things we can do better right? We all know I write too much sometimes (or most of the time). Maybe you readers have some ideas or pointers for me? I’m open to critique and review.
Here are notes from the session…
What is a blog?
- Originating from web-blog…online diary originating from Live Journal
- A platform to express opinions…personality led
- Different to a news feed on a website
- Written in the first-person and you can usually see who writes it
- Discussion, personal opinion, adding other information…responsive…
- Responding to other writers and bloggers to build a network
- A feed of first-person articles or posts
- “Conversational”…it allows for comments and responses. A blog is a conversation.
- Informative…to encourage further traffic, or direct audiences, often involving advertising
- Allows people to explore ideas on an on-going basis…always work in progress and not being afraid to show this progress
“Informative, entertaining or instructional…blogs usually fall into one of these three categories.”
Why might someone blog?
- To engage with students…and to get feedback…to create a conversation with students
- Builds a public persona
- Develop ideas in a more organic way…collect information from online…share in a more public way
- Building a network
- Content marketing…creating content you want people to find on search engines…aka inbound marketing
- Having “soft content”…having things that audiences want to engage
- SEO…search engine optimisation…the possibilities of getting you website to the top of Google search (seoreviewtools.com and Google Adwords: Keyword Planner)
“The key thing is activity.”
In small groups, we were asked to review these five blog post examples…
- This is an astonishing visualisation of the refugee crisis
- Will Doctor Foster feel better for taking revenge on her cheating husband
- Ten things every photographer needs to know
- How Birmingham City University use Twitter
- SEO in headlines: how the colon became king (quite a nice blog on journalism from Paul Bradshaw)
…by asking four questions…
- What is each blogger is interested in?
- What worked well for each blog post?
- What didn’t work well?
- Who was it aimed at?
…to find out what’s good and bad practice?
- Good images…one’s that tell a story, illustrating what the story is about
- Good links…hyperlinks, don’t let links go dead
- Make it topical
- Sharing insight and research
- Easy to navigate, not fussy, make it clear
- Write for the web…don’t over-write…find your own tone of voice as a blogger (read other people’s – find your favourite)
- Interactive if possible…more visuals
- How does the blog post sit within other contexts
- Consider issues of copyright
- Persuasive and clear message/writing
- Personable versus informative…dependent on the audience
- If blogging, be a blogger on other sites…”guest blogging”
- See whether the websites that forward to your blog are trusted
- List form as a format for posts (Buzzfeed as an example)…bullet points…sub headings and titles…”listicle”…
- Get a reaction
- SEO and social media optimisation
Other questions included, is there anyone stopping inappropriate content? Unethical content? Wrong content? Is it easy to read on a mobile? Would they read it on the train?
From this, we were asked to think about…
- The area you are interested in? (I was looking at it from the perspective of the CCVA…these questions would be answered, in part, differently for my blog)
Chinese contemporary arts and culture
Promotion of new MA contemporary Arts China course and the CCVA
Profiling the work of current researcher students, researchers, work in the field, inviting guests to participate
Starting new conversations in the field…create a field of professional practice
- Your purpose for blogging?
To raise the profile of the work of current research students and the work of the CCVA
To open up conversations and lead in the field of the here-and-now of Chinese contemporary arts, design and visual culture
- Who is your target audience?
Potential students for the MA
Current research students/students, people interested in the field
We were also asked to search for relevant blogs and generate three idea for blog posts. I came across a great blog post by Creative Tourist – Top 25 UK Arts and Culture blogs…I’ve followed their site for many years now as an example of good practice…
…also the work of The Double Negative…
There are so many out there! How do you make a blog distinct? That’s my burning question. Dave finished he session by talking about the importance of creating a content plan for blogging…something I am very aware of for the work of the CCVA, however for my personal blog I feel a regular sporadic nature is ok. Regularity is key…or as Dave said “activity”. So from now wordgirl, it’s less words and more activity…what else?