You want to start blogging about K12?
So far from Part One on Starting a K12 Blog you have started to consider your area of passion and have walked through the Getting Started Checklist to set-up your blogging platform.
Identify your Tasks per PostWhen you start any blog post there are some standard things you should include every time. Think of these items as the “spoonful of sugar” to help the content be pleasantly consumed by your reader. You may hone these over time, but these are excellent items to consider as you start.
You may consider your thoughts as the primary content, but those thoughts need to be formatted for optimal delivery. This means complementary, predictive images should accompany every post. The layout of your post should be easy to follow and set-up for a skim reading by your readership incase they want to skip to the “meat” of your post. This can be accomplished by white-space, fonts, colors, and negotiating a reasonable length to your post.
WordPress offers themes and widgets which can customize the layout of your web site. This includes any considerations for advertising, like Google’s Adsense placement of advertising within your blog/posts. Your content can be customized with options in the toolbar above your writing area.
Format>Headings are the first way to “outline” your post for the reader; the idea of headings is similar to the way your 6th grade English teacher taught you to “outline” with letters and roman numerals. These Headings can also be color coordinated to help your reader see them as guiding ideas through your post.
White space can be used instead of bullet points, indentations can also call out some content over others. Consider Format>Blocks>Blockquote to either call out your own important text (like I did in this post) or to quote others.
Three starter sites: PicMonkey, Pixabay, and ReciteThis should give you enough to work with for months before you need to expand and freshen your post images. Set a goal of one high quality image per post which conveys the idea(s) of the post and other images add needed. Include a way for your readers to pin those images or otherwise share is important.
ReciteThis allows you to enter a quote and choose from many nice graphic designs with your text incorporated. You can share the image out via social networks, use a permalink, or download a PNG. It is a good idea to include your URL on anything you create. You will have their mark on the bottom, but this service can be a quick way to add an image to a post. Here is an example of post where I used ReciteThis as my featured image. (Bummer, ReciteThis is down as of April 2015. Maybe it will rebound!)
Pixabay offers public domain uploaded user pictures for your use. Their terms state: “To the extent possible under law, uploaders of Pixabay have waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to these Images. You are free to adapt and use the Images for commercial purposes without attributing the original author or source. Although absolutely not required, a link back to Pixabay would be nice.” Exports are downloads (PNGs in four varying sizes, often with a vector option) or you can use social media to share directly. If you contribute ten images you can remove the advertising on your interface.
Whether you take you own photographs or use public domain images from Pixabay when you want a web-based and free way to add captions, headings, text PicMonkey is the answer. If you are a Pinterest user you can search for “PicMonkey” and take your choice of blog entries – otherwise check out this Using PicMonkey: A Beginner’s Guide post. While you can pay for upgrades, the site and most features are free and will allow you to enhance your photographs, and text and/or watermarks to images. You can download as PNG or JPG and share directly to social media.
When you start to plan out content you want to practice a variety of post lengths and see which is best for your style and your content. The experts may tell you that longer is better or that shorter is better. However, your topic and audience might vary the necessity of the word count of your post. You will become and expert through trial and error faster than by reading all the reports on the ideal blog post length. Once you settle in on your own average length it is time to mix it up and see if you see if you experience different levels of engagement with your content with differing length of content (this post? 1249 words).
Sometimes the content is limitless and you might consider a series. Most of my traffic this far has come from the series I tagged with #eteacherTOOL and #BlendKit2014. Just as with this series on K12 Blogging I branded all posts with a visual cue to let the reader know to expect similar content as prior posts in that series. If you do not have a natural break in your content to make more than one post or you have a long series of photographs which must stay together, but make the post a scroll-fest. WordPress has a “Read More” tag for such posts (see an example of when I used this) This allows your reader to scroll down to other posts if they are interested and can keep your posts appearing similar lengths.
What do I write about?
Now is this the time to start a list of topics you want to explore, can offer tips and tricks on, and topics with which you have first hand experience. While that sounds easy it may not be so simple. What do people come to you for in your hallway/grade level at school? What are you the expert in? Chance are you have not written it down, but retell the same information over and over again – there is your first topic or series! If all else fails, how about finding some lists of blog title posts or topics on Pinterest (like this sample).
How often do I write?
You schedule has to be sustainable for you, so you are the ultimate judge of your schedule. However, if you are a visual person and want to “see” and “play around with” how many posts and when I strongly suggest the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin. You can take your drafts and spread them out, move them around, edit/delete right from the calendar view. When/if you start caring about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you should already know what you can do easily and scale up to the needed frequency.
When should I start?
Right now. The sooner you try this the sooner you will have experience with your voice in a blog and you will have wisdom to share with me, with others, with your readers! Why don’t you keep this tab open, go to your blog and publish a quick post where you introduce yourself? Return to this post and share your blog post URL with me? I would be honored to be your first visitor and leave a comment!
What is next?
Please look through my list of resources to Start a K12 Blog.
Leave some feedback for me as to how I can help you. If you include your blog link I will be certain to comment on your blog as well.