On Blogging and Social Media

To help educators get started with social media and blogging

Monday, June 1, 2009

Testing your blog idea

Posted by Nik Peachey

So you think you have a good idea for starting a blog? Well maybe you do, but every day, there are thousands of new blogs being created and of those thousands, only a very small percentage last beyond the first couple of postings. Why?

There are two common reasons for this:

  • First is lack of content. The blog is started on an impulse, then the creator soon realises that they have said what they wanted to say and have nothing more to write about.
  • Second, the writer realises that keeping a blog regularly updated is very time consuming and there is little or no material reward so they give up.
So before you decide to start your blog it’s well worth testing out your idea to see if both you and the idea have the potential to be successful.

You can start testing your idea by preparing a list of your first blog postings.
  • Brainstorm the titles of each posting and think about what the content will be. See how many post titles you can come up with. If you can come up with 10 - 20 initial ideas, then your idea might well be worth exploring further, if you can’t then the topic might be too narrow and it might be better to re-think the blog idea. Successful blogs are dependent on a supply of regular original content, if you can’t sustain that then your blog won’t last very long.
  • Once you have brainstormed your titles, start writing up some of the content. Just use a word processor to begin with and see how long it takes you to write your first ten entries. This will give you a chance to find out how much time you will need to commit to your blog and also help you to see if you really have something to say about the titles you have brainstormed. If at the end of the first ten postings you still feel you have the time and energy and ideas to continue, then you could have the makings of a successful blog.
  • Having completed this process, you will also have some initial content to launch your blog with. It’s a good idea to get at least your first few postings live on your blog before you start getting people interested and promoting your blog. If readers come to a blog and only find one posting they may well never come back. If they see a few interesting postings, then they are much more likely to subscribe to your blog and start following you.
You'll need to think about how often you update your blog, and remember that those first posts you brainstormed before you launched won't last you for very long, so don't wait until they run out to start thinking about more article titles. Whenever you think of a possible article added it as a draft and put in some notes, then when you have time start writing up your article and getting it ready to post.

I hope these suggestions help to guide you towards creating a successful blog or site. I'd be really interested in hearing what other bloggers have to say about launching their first blogs.

How about you?
  • Did you draft a collection of materials before you started?
  • Did you launch your blog with a single post or a collection?
  • How long did you wait before telling people about your blog?
By all means leave comments with your blogging story.

© Nik Peachey



Hi ya, Nik -

I have to confess I just kind of started.

I started on blogger a couple of years back and wrote all of 2 articles. Abandoned it. I think that's because I had this weird idea that a blog should be a diary.

Then I created a website for my materials and the package came with a mojo blog which was cumbersome and impractical.

Hmm... I knew I should blog to create fresh content and expand the website so I went back to the old Kalinago blog because blogger is so straightforward (now I wish I was on wordpress) and started messing about, writing stupid stuff... and then suddenly it just clicked.

I had something to write about: technology (but lower tech than most of the other bloggers - because my readers are), speaking cause that's my thang... and lesson tips and ideas, plans etc - I'd have to say nowadays I have more ideas than time and have er, way too many draft posts, than I'll ever have time to complete!

If I had any advice for any other would-be blogger it'd be: have a theme.

Once you've got a theme, just do it. Seriously. Just get to the page and start. However without some kind of focus, you'll flounder and your readers won't know what to expect.

!Great post as usual, Nik!

Johanna Stirling said...

Can't believe you've got time for another blog, Nik!
I was putting everything on my website but it was getting a pain going into Dreamweaver and uploading each time. Also my website, The English Language Garden, has lots of different stuff on it and I wanted a space dedicated to spelling, so I started The Spelling Blog. At first I was posting every week, then every two. I wanted to build up some content and I write more often when I can because there are some months when I just can't fit it in. Your idea of having drafts ready to post at busy times is a good one. Mind you, in Blogger I find it really difficult to get a posting that was previously made as a draft to show teh publishing date rather than teh original date I started to write it - which means it doesn't go at the top. I end up having to copy the content and make a new posting. Any hints?

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Johanna

Thanks for telling us how you got started. To change dates of postings, look at the bottom of the text editing field (bottom left) where it says 'Post options'. Click on it and it will open to show you the post date and time. You just change them to the date you want it to be published. You can schedule future postings that way too, if you decide there is a good peak time to post.

Thanks again.



Miracel said...

Hi, Nik! I started my blog with a non-EFL related topic which is a review of a famous restaurant just to have my friends as the initial readers. I tried to do some research to tweak my blog and make it better. I thought about what I think is a post that a lot of English teachers and students need. That's why I came up with a post about the Best English websites. Then I promoted this post through Twitter and Facebook.

Nik Peachey said...

Hi Miracel
Thanks for your blogging story. I checked out your blog and it looks really professional. You have done a great job on the design.

I see that you also carry some advertising and get some sponsorship. How is this working out for you? I know that lot of bloggers would like to actually make some money or at least cover the costs of some of their time. Have you managed to do this yet?

Thanks again for the comment.


Johanna said...

Thanks for the note about how to change my blog posting dates but I had tried that and it kept reverting to the original date. That was on one particular posting. So I ended up copying it, deleting it and then reposting it. But I'll see if it works next time. I've got a couple waiting in the wings.

Nik Peachey said...

Very mysterious!

Ana Cristina Pratas said...

Hi Nik,

I've been wondering about what exactly I want to do with my blog and have found your advice and others' comments quite thought provoking. I began mine as an example for my students then slowly it transformed into a tool for myself - somewhere where I could return and easily find sites & platforms that I could turn to easily. Somewhere along the way I shared what I was doing with others and they found my entries useful as points of references as well.

Right now I suppose that's what it is, just another bulletin board in the blogosphere, but it kind of works for me as a personal learning space as well.

Thank you again for sharing so much and for making me reflect about all this!


Nik Peachey said...

Hi Cristina
I'm glad the advice has been helpful. For me personally, one of the best things about blogging is that it gets you to formulate your ideas and experiences and commit to your beliefs. Pushing the 'publish' button and sending your thoughts and opinions out to the world is quite a significant step, so it does make you think about and reflect on them and that really is a useful part of your self development both as a teacher and as a person.



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