Spotlight

How to Make Your Blog a Dog

by Mark Stock

Avoid these common mistakes or your blog is destined to be ignored.

•  Write in superintendent memo mode. Education leaders are comfortable with formal writing. Stop it. Blogs are informal and chatty. You want people to read and return, not fall asleep. 

•  Write too much. Posting often is good. Writing too much in one post is not. When people surf the Web, they don’t want to read your dissertation. Your blog posts are best when they are a few paragraphs or less. If you can post a photo to illustrate your point, even better.

If you can link to several other sites or sources in your short paragraph that take people even deeper into the subject, this is really good. In this way, you let the readers decide how far they want to follow the bread crumb trails to other information. Keep it short and sweet.

•  Post infrequently. Readers expect to be rewarded for their effort to visit your site. It is the theory of intermittent reinforcement. (Think Las Vegas.) Sometimes they will win, sometimes they will lose, but they never quite know what they will find when they stop by your site. Three to five posts a week is a nice goal. When you aren’t going to post for a week, post an announcement that you will resume in a week, they’ll understand. Just remember, they stop coming when they notice you don’t provide them with something fresh.

•  Don’t link to others. This is a common failing. We always think it doesn’t count if we don’t create it ourselves. You don’t have to be entertaining, just hyperlink to someone who is. You don’t have to be an expert in everything, link to other authorities on a subject. You get the idea. We really aren’t all that interesting, but we can link to people who are.

•  Hide your sense of humor. One surefire way to make your blog a dog is to hide your funny bone. You may be quite charming and funny, maybe in your own quirky way. Can you give the blog’s readers a sneak peak at this side of your character?

•  Talk down to them. This is a real blog killer. If you come across as arrogant and condescending, you will turn people off in a hurry. But when they glimpse your humble side, it makes you approachable. Publicly admitting that in hindsight you wished you had modified your proposals or made a different decision may be hard to do, but the public doesn’t mind a little dose of humble pie from their leaders. Just ensure it is genuine.

•  Write when you’re angry. One way to scare off access is to come off as a pit bull. Never write a blog post or respond to a patron comment when you are angry. I used to run my responses by a few people in the office for feedback before posting.