Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Blogging Hurdle

During my typical digital leadership keynote or workshop, I consistently talk about the importance of blogging in relation to the pillars of communication, public relations, branding, and professional growth. When I ask attendees how many of them blog, usually ten or less hands go up. This question is quickly followed by how many of those who blog do so consistently. At most there are five hands that go back up, but usually it is less.  I then proceed to tell the majority of the audience why they don’t blog and offer up some specific reasons:
  • I don't have time
  • I don’t know what to blog about
  • No one will read my blog
  • I don't know how to start a blog
  • I can’t write
I get it.  Back in the day, I was against the idea of blogging as I thought Twitter was good enough to meet certain leadership and learning goals I had established.  If something is important to you then you will find a way. If not, then you will make an excuse.  At the time blogging just wasn’t important enough to me so I came up with as many excuses as I could to avoid the topic. 


Image credit: http://www.techburgeon.com/

My exact excuses are listed above. It wasn’t until a man by the name of Ken Royal pulled me aside and gave me some advice that totally changed my professional career. He basically said that we were doing such great work at my school and I should share it in detail so others could benefit from our experiences.  He essential convinced me that I had to blog. The conversation we had motivated me to move past the excuses I had concocted and to do my best to write in detail about practical strategies that successfully resulted in sustainable change. To this day I have never stopped blogging, although my style and topics have changed with my career transition. Consistency is important, but getting started and valuing the process is crucial.

Let me make this crystal clear – Your work matters more than you realize! Awesomeness happens in districts, schools, and classrooms every day. If you are not blogging about these daily wins, you are selling your kids and community short. Don't let the excuses hold you back from sharing the inspirational stories and practical strategies that can combat the negative rhetoric in education. As I have said since 2009, if you don't tell your story someone else will. Digital leadership compels us to become the storyteller-in-chief.  

So what should I blog about? Here are some general topics and tips to get you motivated to either start or write more consistently:
  • Communicate news, events, building projects, student achievements, staff accomplishments, and other information
  • Tell great stories as a means to take control of your public relations
  • Reflect on your learning, successes, and failures
  • Develop a positive brand presence
  • Share practical strategies and evidence that have resulted from change initiatives
  • Provide insight on how specific technology tools can be successfully integrated to support/enhance student learning
If you need even more blogging ideas or prompts, then check out the Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas

Take the plunge. There are a variety of blogging platforms to chose from including Blogger, Wordpress, Medium, or Tumblr. Put aside at least 45 minutes a week to write. There are no rules on length of posts. Once your post is complete share on social media using mainstream hash tags. If you connect to my work or interests, shoot me an email so I can read it. Most importantly, write for you and no one else.

Do you already have a blog? If so share a link in the comments section below.

22 comments:

  1. Eric,
    I appreciate your encouragement to blog. I began my blog,runwithmrrichard.wordpress.com, a few months ago, and I have only posted a few times. I fall victim to all of the reasons not to write you listed, but I am proud that I took the first step. Your post was a great reminder to get the next post going.Thanks for the inspiration.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your blog Todd. You should be proud about taking that first step. My hope is that this post might get others to do the same. For you, your next step is consistency as I am sure you have awesome ideas and thoughts to share that others will value.

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    2. Eric - In your reply to Todd you hit the nail on the head for me - consistency - this is where I struggle. There are are periods of time when I post regularly then I am silent for months. I've not yet found a way to keep the posts flowing. Any suggestions? Thanks! -Connie

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    3. I can only tell you what works for me as consistency will vary from person to person. For me I commit to blogging once a week and post, for the most part, every Sunday. This gives me time to think about topics that I have not written about or different angles I want to take. My goal is to have something written (300 - 800 words) by Friday. There are no rules on how long a post must be and it can even just be an image or video with some thought-provoking questions. What works for me is that I have blogging included as a part of my weekly professional tasks.

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    4. Thanks for the tips Eric! In particular I like the idea of making blogging part of my weekly schedule. Looks like it's time for me to give it another go! Try, try and try again! I truly am The Optimistic Educator! :-) https://theoptimisticeducator.wordpress.com/

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  3. Hi Eric,
    Let me start by saying that my blog has been transformative for me, both professionally and personally. But it concerns me that you seem to suggest that educators who aren't blogging are somehow doing a disservice to their school communities, that they're "selling their school short". I love to write. It helps me to make sense of things, to reflect and to share. But it's not for everyone. I've recently heard from several educators who were feeling guilty because they didn't have a blog, that they needed something transformative to write about before it was worthy of sharing. I can promise you that these are inspiring leaders who are doing their very best to foster caring and innovative school communities. Not having a blog doesn't diminish their passion or their purpose. And just as we encourage our students to demonstrate their learning in different ways, we should be as supportive and understanding of educators who are, in the end, simply trying to do their very best for kids and are often already feeling overwhelmed and under supported. Ultimately, there is no one "right" way. If we are trying to do our best to support kids, then we are doing it "right". If we keep kids at the centre of all that we do, then we are doing it "right". If a blog helps in that journey, great. If not, that's ok too...

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    1. Great point Sarah. I guess my point though is that blogging can be for everyone. For the most part educators are doing it in other forms such as newsletters, announcements, etc. If time is spent on these traditional tasks then the shift to putting it on a blog to facilitate greater dialogue should be easy no? With all the negative rhetoric and perceptions stakeholders develop blogging is a proactive step to combat that. With all that said though you made me reflect more on the true purpose of this post and for that I thank you (oh and I removed the quote).

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  4. I'm all for facilitating dialogue, but through a variety of modes/platforms. Some parents prefer "traditional" newsletters, and some might find a blog more accessible. I would suggest that it's important to learn the unique context and needs of each school community and do our best to respond to those needs... Negativlty is often the result of a lack of trust and transparency. So any efforts to improve communication can only serve to strengthen a school community. A blog might be one of those ways. But in the same way, I'm wary of combatting negativity by focussing on educators' "deficiencies" rather than their strengths. A balance of encouraging new, innovative practices, but also to value where people are right now. An ongoing challenge for me.
    Thank you for taking the time to reply.

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  5. Eric this is so important. I was bitten with the blogging bug about 2 years ago and have been addicted ever since. I feel it makes me a more reflective and transparent leader. It also helps me to notice more. I hope this post reaches and inspires many as I know your posts always do.

    I now blog primarily for BAmradio at http://www.bamradionetwork.com/edwords-blog/dashboard/entries but have also kept my site at jonharper70.com

    Thanks again for leading the way and carrying the torch!

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  6. Eric,
    I am glad you wrote this post. Way back in 2005, I started a blog to communicate with parents and the community and a second blog to communicate with staff. It's one of the best things we ever did. Those blogs proved to be huge improvements over the paper counterparts they replaced. The time required went down. The cost went down (to zero). The type of content we could include and the speed with which we could get it to our stakeholders went to a whole new level.

    Though not maintained once I left, both are still there as a way to remember who we were at that time: http://GrahamSchool.blogspot.com and http://GrahamStaff.blogspot.com.

    A blog with an email sign-up in the sidebar gets your message in the email inbox of parents, community leaders, and the local newspaper reporter. Every social media marketer I know stresses the important of being in someone's email over and above anything else. Not everyone has Facebook; not everyone has Twitter. But EVERYONE has email if they have anything and they check their email.

    Thanks for spotlighting what I have thought in 2005 was out best tool for communication and think remains king today.

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  7. Eric-Thanks for this post. It has encouraged me to not only keep blogging, but include the storied of my staff and students as they find victories in the everyday quest for understanding and engagement. My blog is usually focused on character, integrity, and mental strength. Now it will be much more. I guess I just had to hear that it needs to be in a concrete way. Here is the link: drcsjones.blogspot.com

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  8. Eric, thank you for sharing this post. I began my blog, aprincipalspace.wordpress.com, a little over a year ago. I am sorry to say I also seem to find readily available excuses for not blogging. But, you're right. There are lots of amazing things happening right under my nose in MY school. I going to focus on sharing smaller bits of the great things my staff and students are doing, and share those with consistency. Baby steps. Thank you again for the inspiration!

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  9. Eric,
    Thanks to Jen Klozko and you I am becoming a blogger. Not a natural, but with all the epicness my students show, I had to try.
    http://principalkubiak.blogspot.com/2016/04/this-is-why-i-do-itfor-all-of-jacobs-in.html?m=1

    Thx
    Jeff

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  10. This is an excellent post, which I immediately shared via Twitter. I will personally follow-up with the handful of educators I think are short-changing their community (including me) by not blogging yet.
    I do my personal best to be consistent at HotLunchTray.com

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  11. Thank you all for taking the time to respond. I can't wait to dig into your blogs.

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  12. This is a blog I started so I could think through ideas. Somehow writing always helps. http://thewritingfog.blogspot.com

    I started this blog to reflect on my middle school teaching experiences.
    http://spmsliteracyworkshop.blogspot.com
    I plan to be a more consistent blogger now, but I may need a new title.
    Thank you for the push to get started again.

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  13. This is a blog I started so I could think through ideas. Somehow writing always helps. http://thewritingfog.blogspot.com

    I started this blog to reflect on my middle school teaching experiences.
    http://spmsliteracyworkshop.blogspot.com
    I plan to be a more consistent blogger now, but I may need a new title.
    Thank you for the push to get started again.

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  14. Yes! Everything in this post hits the mark. "If you don't tell your story, someone else will." So powerful and true! I blog about my work as a technology integrator at http://hcpstinytech.blogspot.com. I also blog about my passion for random acts of kindness at http://bit.ly/celebratekindness. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with the world and inspire others!

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  15. Eric - I am just starting to blog about my classroom experiences, and I am interested in having my students blog as well. I am wondering if anyone has ideas on how to get middle school students to begin blogging? Thanks for the encouragement as blogging is an incredible way to connect with other educators!

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    1. I will definitely check out Kid Blog. Thanks for the reply!

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