Last week at Stamats, I was involved in more than a few sidelines conversations about becoming a higher ed blogger. Some people felt intimidated, as if they didn’t have anything valuable to add to the conversation. Others were concerned about backlash from their institutions if other employees (or even worse, their bosses) found out about their publishing.
On both a professional and personal level, I think blogging has so much value and would encourage anyone to give it a try. Besides the obvious tip of entering the .eduGuru new blogger search contest, here’s some of my advice if you’re thinking about venturing into these waters: [Update: Blogger Search Applications close at midnight tonight and everyone who applied will be hearing from Kyle in the morning]
- Just start writing: Kyle’s mantra is that you have to write 100 bad blog posts before you start writing good ones. Don’t worry about having a particular direction for the blog at first - just let the writing go where it takes you. Eventually, a direction will emerge. The biggest caveat to this is that you should keep professional and personal blogging separate, since your content will probably be geared towards two very different audiences.
- Keep it separate: If you work for an institution, I think it’s really important to keep your blogging life separate from your every day work. Pay for your own hosting. Don’t blog from work - do it on your time. Have a disclaimer on your blog emphasizing that it represents your views and not the views of your institution. Don’t blog directly what things you’re working on in the office, though I think it’s OK to use it as inspiration to write about higher level concepts. If you become successful, you probably will experience backlash at some point, so it’s really important to implement these “cover your ass” measures.
- Keep a journal: Since you aren’t going to blog from work, it’s important to write down your great ideas for blog topics when you have them so you don’t forget them later. I keep a journal with me almost all the time, just in case.
- Come up with a schedule: Have some sort of plan to make sure that your blog is updated on a consistent basis. For example, on Sunday nights you’ll usually find me sitting on my couch working on some of the blogs I plan to post that week. This stuff is work and it does require a commitment.
- Get involved with the community: Bloggers love reading/commenting on other blogs! Let us know you’re out there by commenting on our blogs or getting involved on Twitter. It’s one of the quickest ways to start promoting your blog and getting traffic to it.
The more voices, the merrier. I wish more practitioners would throw their hat in the ring. Don’t be intimidated by those of us who are already doing it - we’ll be the first to tell you that we want to hear what you have to say and what your experiences have been. The whole point of this is to learn from each other and very rarely do I meet a higher ed person that doesn’t have an opinion or experience to express! Blogging gives you that outlet. I hope to be hearing from many more of you soon.