On Blogging and Social Media

To help educators get started with social media and blogging

Monday, June 8, 2009

Structuring your posting

Posted by Nik Peachey

If you want to build up a regular audience on your blog, it’s a good idea to try to standardise the structure of your postings. This helps your readers quickly understand what to expect from your blog and how to access the information they need quickly.
You may find that a single standardised structure is enough for all your postings.

  • On my Daily English Activities I have single structure for all the activities. I always begins with an introduction which justifies the activity on a pedagogical level and and which introduces the kind of tool used. This is then followed by the task with step by step procedure and lastly some links to other relevant postings.
  • On my Learning Technology Blog I’ve structured the majority of the materials with an introduction to the tools being used and some technical kind of ‘How to’ instructions, then pedagogical suggestions followed by some pros and then some cons of using the tool.
Not all of the material is structured in this way, but I have found that the postings that follow this ‘standardised’ structure are generally far more successful and are read by more people.

Some blog structures you could explore for ideas are:
  • Larry Ferlazzo’s websites of the day
    Larry’s posts are usually carefully annotated lists of links to resources for teaching. If you look at a few you can see that he gives an introduction to the topic followed by the list. Each entry has its own description.
  • Six Things
    Lindsay Clandfield has a blog called Six Things and each posting is based around six paragraphs on a particular topic. Interestingly Lindsay also gets a lot of guest writers on his site which can help to keep the ideas fresh too.
  • That'SLife
    Gavin Dudeney goes for more of an in depth essay style of writing, with longer 'opinion' posts that discuss a single issue in more depth.
When you start preparing your initial content (See Testing your blog idea) for your blog, it’s a good idea to see if you can fit it into a standard structure like this. You may have to write a few postings and play with them a little before you find a structure that works, but it is well worth formulating the structure before you launch any of your content as this will make your blog seem more professional better planned and so will add to its credibility.

Lists are a very popular way to structure a blog. They give readers clear expectations and help you to keep your writing to a manageable amount. One thing I have noticed though, is that there is a limit to how many things I can find interesting on a list type posting. If I see 12 top teaching tips for using video, I'm much more likely to have a look at them than say 50 top teaching tips, so beware of overkill.

How about you?
  • How do you structure your blog postings?
  • Do you have single or set of standard structures?
  • Do you ignore standardisation and just write however you like?
  • What other sites do you know that have interesting structures.
Your comments are welcome.


Johanna said...

The structuring works very well on your blogs and the others you mention, Nik. But for me I get tired of fitting things into boxes in other areas of my life and don't like to be restrained by them so I do my own thing. And in teaching materials and lessons too I like that sense of variety - though I know lots of people who prefer consistency. Horses for courses!

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