This Web Skills module on blogging will help you understand what blogging is, why people blog, why you should start blogging and how to start using the College's Wordpress installation.
What is blogging?
Blogging started out as simply writing a "web log" - a place for thoughts, a personal diary or space for collaboration, but it has evolved due to entrepreneurs seeing blogs as having marketing potential. A blog can now be a standalone business or an integration into your overall web presence. A good example of this is HuffPost (previously The Huffington Post), who evolved their blog to a website, but it still uses blogs to spread news, share expert analysis and commentary, and gain revenue from advertising.
Blogs are slightly different from websites as the content is updated more frequently, with posts being added several times a week. Blogs allow for more user engagement, encouraging readers to make comments, have discussions with the blogger and other readers - making it a social platform. The tone and style is often a bit less formal and is usually written from a first person perspective.
Reasons to blog
- A blog allows you to build trust and rapport with your readers. Not only can you show off what you know, building your expertise and credibility, but because people can post comments and interact with you, they can get to know you, and hopefully, will trust you enough to take direction from you.
- Blogging provides an easy way to keep your readers up-to-date on what's going on, let them know about new information, and provide tips.
- Search engines love new content, and as a result, blogging is a great search engine optimization (SEO) tool. Add your blog’s feed to your website pages to show you’re an active editor.
- Blogs can make money, when offering a product or service, it’s great for generating charitable donations.
- Blogs can be fun and creative, a place for you to express your thoughts and opinions, or advise and help other.
What can I use a blog for?
Here are a few types of blog ideas:
- Student trips or research expeditions
- Your area of work expertise, e.g. Photography Digest
- Discussing research findings, e.g. IRD Journal Club.
- Industrial placements
- Team projects
- Student blogs – student life, club, sport etc.
- Informal news reporting
- Alerts / announcements or FAQs
- Sharing good practice e.g. Content Design
Things to consider
- Blogging requires time. For a blog to be effective at engaging readers, it needs to be updated regularly. The success of blogging comes from having people return, and they only return when there's new stuff to read. You don't need to to post everyday, but posting posting regularly keeps your blog looking fresh and interesting, it's better to publish short posts regularly than upload one lengthy essay every month.
- Have your first post ready to go - When your blog is created you will need to have at least one post and an about page, so make sure you have drafted this in advance.
- You need ideas to write about. To keep the content coming, you have to have ideas to write about. Consider brainstorming ideas with a group first, inviting guest writers or hire freelancers. Another option is to curate content from others or use media, such as using video.
- Write in short paragraphs, most people skim read before reading the whole post. Text heavy posts can be overwhelming, some white space is good!
- Choose an appropriate tone – Who are your target audience? Are they seeking professional information/discussion or fun and humour? Identify your audiences expectations then write in appropriate style and tone.
- Don’t plagiarise or steal content, make sure you quote other bloggers or link to their sites.
- Use photos, video or audio to enrich your content.
- Use Categories and tags - these help readers find content faster.
- Market your blog - Let your audience know about your blog. Great ways to reach your audience are through; social media, email newsletters, feeds on your website, and talking to other bloggers, podcasters, and media outlets for publicity.
- Respond to comments - It is recommended that you allow people to post comments on your articles and you try to create a discussion by replying to people's comments, questions and ideas. Read the College Comments Policy to see what we do, and don't allow.
- Make the most of related links and pages. Don’t just list links, make sure they are contextual and meet accessibility standards.
- The payoff isn't immediate. It takes time to build up a readership and momentum, so try not to get disheartened at the start.
What style of blog to choose?
- If you’re posting project information to a small group you should consider using SharePoint.
- If you’re blogging about life or work of Imperial you can apply for a College branded blog. See a full list of current College blogs for inspiration. This type of blog uses WordPress and is already branded for you.
- If you prefer, you can set up your own blog outside College, you can try WordPress, blogger, tumblr etc. Don’t use the logo without permission and be careful using the College name. There is more infromation about working with the Imperial identity in our Brand and style guide.
The College provides branded blogs for Imperial staff and students.
Imperial blogs can cover everything and anything related to student and staff life at the College.
For further help with blogging contact your Faculty Web Officer.