The other day on DoJo’s blog, I reprimanded staff members who are charged with maintaining blogs on their institutional websites that leave them for months at a time without an update. Since posts on DoJo are extremely short by design, I wanted to elaborate further. We’ve identified a problem, now let’s talk about how to avoid it. Simply put, you need to come up with a plan - blogging is a marathon, not a sprint and if you don’t have a plan, you will probably burn yourself out quickly.
- Come up with a calendar: The admissions process is cyclical and fairly predictable - different times of year call for different topics. In the fall, you want to write about application tips, the spring financial aid and how to make that final decision, and over the summer about all the things that enrolling students need to know about. Use the calendar to plan out posts based on important deadlines and events, then fill in the gaps with more timely human interest stories.
- Get a camera: Admissions events will give you good material for posts. Take a few minutes at open house or a college fair to take pictures of students (be sure to tell them what it’s for so they aren’t surprised if they see themselves online later!). After the event, the pictures will give you an excuse to write about it but your ulterior motive is to post valuable info for your applications (talk about some of the questions you were asked and answer them in the blog for the whole class).
- Keep a journal: I live and die by my blogging journal, which I carry with me at all times to jott down ideas. If I didn’t have it, I couldn’t possibly keep up with posting frequently - it’s my bank of ideas when I’ve got complete writers block. You never know when a great idea will hit you. For admissions officers, you have a treasure trove of ideas available to you based on your every day interactions with prospects. Take notes and refer to them when you’re looking for inspiration.
- Come up with a routine: Just as important as having a schedule is forcing yourself into a routine - it’s like working out or being on a diet. Sometimes the routine is all that gets you from day to day. For example, Sunday night is my blogging night - I plan out my posts for the week and work on them all until they are mostly complete. That way, all I have to do during the week is a quick edit and schedule them. It takes the pressure off and ensures that timely content is always ready to go. Pick out a time that is good for you during the week, shut your office door and get to work.
- Create a backlog of posts: Over the Christmas break, when no one was really online anyway, I took advantage of the opportunity to create a nice big backlog of posts that were almost ready to go. Since I was launching my business right after the holidays, I knew I was going to be busy but still wanted to be able to keep up with the blogs - the backlog allowed me to focus on the business without worrying about coming up with content all the time. You can do the same thing for times of year that you know are going to be really busy. For example, when you’re on the road, take advantage of your free time to work on some posts. You’ll be glad you did later on down the road.
Blogging can be a lot of fun and really worthwhile…but it’s also a crapton of work! Admissions blogs can be extremely valuable for applicants and their family, but only if they are consistently updated. Coming up with a plan and sticking to it is the only way to keep your blog going for the long haul.