Friday, January 14, 2011

What makes an effective blog post, or how to write so readers want to read

I am participating in the teacher professional PD on blogging and am enjoying it very much. The second challenge is to write about effective blog-posts. I have heard it said that reflective blogging and reading blogs are the best ways of learning anything - whether learning and teaching, gardening, photography or writing to name some of my areas of interest. I think that blogging is just another name for learning.

So I don't even need to ask: Why blog?

But in case you're not convinced - maybe you're a reader of blogs but wouldn't think that you could write one - here are some reflections garnered from some influential blog- posts on why blog.

One blog post nominated as most effective is from Shelly Blake-Plock. He says: "My blog represents me not as an edited professional voice, but as a human being struggling to express ideas, thoughts, reactions, dreams, and general b.s. via a means that uncompromisingly allows for the immediate feedback of strangers and fellow wanderers." This is the characteristic of transparency. He goes on: "Because real maturity is not about having the right answers, it's about having the audacity to have the wrong answers and re-address them in light of contemplation, self-argument, and experience." This is the characteristic of honesty.

Chris Lehmann has said: 'Blogging for me has to be about reflective practice. It's about putting ideas out there, exploring them, sharing them, and taking part in a larger community. Sometimes, yes, it's just about an announcement or two, but at its best, my blogging helps me think, brings others into my thought process and improves it because of their input and forces me to make sense of my thoughts -- which is why it's so damned hard sometimes." This is the characteristic of reflection

So now to my 5 steps of an effective blog post (or 5 steps to be an effective blogger)

I have to say that this is what, in theory, I aim to do. So often in practice I take the easy way out.

1. Find your voice
Whether it is cheeky, refreshing, serious, humorous or anything else it is uniquely yours and readers appreciate it. When I find it hardest to blog it is because I can't find the voice to write in. I have found the reading the blogs you enjoy is often a way to overcome this problem.

2. Write with honesty, transparency, compassion and reflection
As seen in the examples above, to write with these qualities is not easy. It takes time and it is a struggle. But it worth persisting.

3. Leave comments
Writers love to be read, and the best way to show you are reading what others have thought about and crafted is to leave comments.

4. Link to others
Link love, most important in a community. It is spreading the influence of those who write well.

5. Find out where your readers are from and read them, understand them and communicate
Who is your community? I remember putting in Sitemeter (free) and finding what percentage of my readers were from which different countries and what had referred them to my blog. I have discovered new blogs that had linked to me or the search terms on google that had led them there (very strange, some of them). You can find out what links in your post were clicked on or even what browser they were using. But mostly like blogging itself it is a way or tool of communicating.

So now what blogs am I enjoying at the moment:
A new discovery: Josie speaks up, a teacher musing about life
An oldie but a goodie: Lucacept – intercepting the Web A very inspiring blogger and educator
A infrequent poster but one I always learn from: The Fraudulent Teacher

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  1. Hi!
    I specially like th last step. To find where your readers are from. I think you are making an important point here which relates to the idea that being on the web is being open to the world, which in turn, asks for some cultural sensibility.
    This could even be aplied in diffrent levels, not necessary different cultures, but what I get from that is that bloggers would benefit from a recognition of your reader as a valid other whom you want to relate to.

    Uffff!!! hope I had made my point across :)

  2. Thank you Jo. You have made my day. The highest honour, to have my blog called 'an oldie but a goodie'.

    Jenny :)

  3. I think the opportunity to have a voice out there in the wider world was my draw to blogging. I am trying to be a better commenter and to work more on linking to interesting, provocative, and fun posts that I read in my wanderings.

    My post on this is located at


  4. Hi Jo,
    Thanks for citing me as a new discovery! Blogging is indeed a new enterprise for me. I always enjoyed writing but it never occurred to me that others might want to read my writing. Plus I find that the more I write, the more I want to write; hence I try and blog everyday.
    I have been surprised and pleased by the amount of support I've received on line as I've mused, bared my soul and attempted to be amusing.
    As you say it is about honesty but blogging is also very liberating for me too. I often discover I'm not the only one who feels a certain way. Getting comments is always a little thrill and I always comment back.
    The last thing I enjoy doing is visiting everyone else's blog, commenting, and also visiting their blogroll to discover other new blogs.
    Josie x

  5. Great post. Thanks for your insights. I think finding voice can be a hard one for me, but it might take some time.

  6. I've been blogging professionally for a few years. However, I just started a private blog for my baby daughter this week. . Your post is a good refresher as I try to find my voice on her blog. Thanks!

  7. Voice is so important and what makes blogs so enjoyable to read. Authors who let their voice shine through are very easy to connect to.

  8. Thanks Jo for this informative post. I liked the fact that you discussed blogging and its effectiveness from the point of view of other bloggers and provided links to their blogs for further exploration. Like you I love reading blogs and learning from them. This challenge is a prime example of this, providing me with so many new and wonderful blogs to read.
    The thread that seems to be running through so many posts is your first one - Find Your Voice and write with passion!

  9. Thanks Jo for your insights into blogging. Finding a voice and purpose/theme for a blog is difficult for new bloggers. I've been at it for nearly 9 months and are still developing my online identity.

  10. is my blog...the last post didn't identify me!

  11. Thanks! If anyone thinks their ideas are not important, they should read this reflective blog post -- You, Shelley, and Chris show that it is the human voice sharing questions and concerns, thinking through the situation and idea, that makes blogs important and relevant. Someone else has or had similar concerns or ideas, and their conversation deepens the understanding for everyone. So engage in reflection online to add to global understanding.

    And thanks for the sitemeter link!

  12. This was such a thought provoking post. As a blogger, a teacher, a writer, it is hard to find the right voice - it's a learning process, for sure.

  13. Nice work Jo - Did not realise you were in the challenge too:) @nenifoofer