8 Steps To Building A Better Blog

1249882_halfway_to_heavenThis really has nothing to do with education. I wanted to take a chance to stop and address some things that happened this week in my life and the life of this blog. Every day in the past week except for Tuesday, So You Want To Teach? saw more than 50 visitors. It’s not like that constitutes a high-traffic blog or anything, but I see healthy, steady growth and want to look at some of the things that I have done to see this growth.

  1. Add content
    I started the blog in February, but only posted three articles a month until we got to the last week of May. Those articles are pretty good and help to form the foundation for the blog, but they were not very unified. In May, I began to develop my own writing style and post at a rate of nearly every day. This will let up once the school year begins, but the reasoning behind daily articles was simply to add good content to the archives. When adding content, it is important to have a solid headline and first paragraph (hook) to keep the reader interested.
  2. Fine-tune reader experience
    After I made the transition from Blogger to WordPress in mid-June, I began adding plugins like crazy. I literally have 19 plugins running on the site right now. Some of my favorites include Category/Archive Listing, Popularity Contest, Similar Posts (which is my personal favorite), SRG Clean Archives, What Would Seth Godin Do, and WordPress.com stats. If you haven’t visited the archives or category pages of this site, you haven’t seen some of them in action. I researched marketing techniques as they pertained to the blogging world. I read lots of blogs about blogging. The attention to detail has not gone unnoticed! Eric writes:

    Additionally, he has done everything possible to help you navigate his website; directing you to the posts you should read first and then elsewhere and such. When I first went on it, I felt like I was on a road map, it was that nice.

  3. Take advantage of RSS feeds and social bookmarking
    I bookmark some of my favorite articles on del.icio.us and Digg. I have an account at TeacherLingo.com (a growing community of blogging educators) that essentially rebroadcasts everything that I post on my site. I use FeedBurner for my feed so that it is universal and to allow me to make the email subscription option easily available.
  4. Submit articles & advertise
    This has gone two ways. First of all, I submitted a few articles to StumbleUpon and that gave me a spike in visitors, but then it died down to about the same level as it had been previously. Most of the people who came here from there saw the site and left nearly immediately. I also submitted an article for last week’s Educator Blog Carnival. That option gave me a similar spike, but the effects have been more lasting. I also purchased some ads with Google AdWords. Not too much, but it does tend to send about one or two new people to the blog each day who are looking to “Be A Better Teacher” or looking for “Classroom Management Tips” or something like that.
  5. Post comments like crazy
    I am starting to do this more frequently. I have seen a large number of hits come to the site from comments I have left on other blogs. The most effective way to take advantage of comments is to leave comments that either gives good information and either links back to another article already on the site, or makes a reference to something that is along the lines of the aim of the blog. Even if I can’t find something similar or relative, sometimes just posting a comment will lead to curious people clicking. Or the owner of the blog may check the site out, find it useful, and add it to their blogroll. These have all happened to me also.
  6. Enter contests
    I have recently discovered that Answers.com has opened up a creative writing contest. I want to enter it. I found Answers.com last summer and have since recommended it to many of my students. It’s just a great place to spend an afternoon an just LEARN. Besides, my district blocks Wikipedia and Answers.com includes articles from that site. It’s a great deal. Additionally, I have decided to enter into Bloggrrl’s Cow Patty Bingo contest. I am submitting my article Shut Up And Teach! for that contest. I think that will turn out to be one of my favorite articles on this blog.
  7. Learn patience
    Rome wasn’t built in a day. Patience comes with enduring. God told Isaiah to not despise the day of small things. Everything starts small. Dream big, write as if you are writing to an audience of 1,000 readers, and wait for good things to happen. Be persistent.
  8. Revise and delete
    This applies not only to individual elements of articles and site layout, but also to entire articles. I have deleted somewhere around 50 articles that were not really in line with the goals of this blog. Just observing the “Related Articles” underneath each one that remained, it was amazing to see how much fluff was removed and how much more relevant the related articles became. The same applies to retitling posts. Some of my headlines bug me so instead of having lame article titles staring me in the face, I come up with catchy names and rename the articles. I said that I delete unnecessary articles from time to time as well. Having a cool error page is a great idea in case you overlook a link to an outdated or unnecessary article. My current one points readers to the Greatest Hits page, but I would be interested in hearing other ideas for what I might put on there. Comments?
About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

2 Comments on 8 Steps To Building A Better Blog

  1. Hey!! I love your site and am so flattered to be added to your EdBlogs list!! I learned so much (and still am ) from your 7 steps to building a blog since I’m a newcomer. I also am on Teacher Lingo and really like the site. I have to check out The Education Wonks…thanks for opening all this up to me!!!

    Mimi

  2. Hi…
    was looking for how to add plugins to wordpress (adsense and other good once) and found your blog talking about everything apart from what i was looking but really found interesting…can you help me how to add plugins to wordpress 2.7….
    Thanks
    Vinny jadge

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