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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Blogging Advice Between Two Educational Technologists

Ted Lai, one of my innovative counterparts in the Los Angeles County Office of Education recently sent me an email that included this bit:
I have a question for you...  I noticed that your blog is being read and out there...  How does that happen?  I have two blogs/podcasts up  and I don't know how to advertise them or get them listed for Google searches and such.  Any advice?

Ted Lai
http://socalhockey.libsyn.com
http://technologyted.blogspot.com
Naturally this was flattering and I was happy to help. I also thought my response would be worth sharing here, for whatever it is worth. So, my reply included this bit:
Ted,

I have pretty limited advice regarding the blogs and readership, but I can share what I've picked up... I'd be happy to chat about it anytime, but here are a few bits I can share over email.

Most importantly, post good content regularly. At the very least it will be searchable and people looking for something similar will find it. If what they find is good they will link to it. I've learned others won't contribute unless there is something engaging and thought provoking already there. I can't believe how many people post simple questions as their first blog posts and wonder why no one responds. You need to give them something to dig their teeth into. (And even so, if people aren't responding it doesn't mean they aren't reading. I occasionally ask a question of my readers, but rarely get an answer. Rather it is the things I say, or am processing publicly, that seem to inspire responses.)

This leads to the next most important thing, and this I picked up from advice on other sites. Be generous with your links to similar content... and don't be afraid to let the other authors know you have linked to them (even via an email) so that they can check out your site. There is something of a "you link to me, I'll link to you" ethic out there. I don't actually do the email alert thing often, but people in ed tech circles seem to have a way to know when they are being linked to. (I even have a standing MSN search via RSS for my name and educational technology and have picked up a lot of connections that way.)

Also, simple stuff like using keywords if you can... and including them in your post titles and the body of your messages. It says educational technology and games in education so many times in my blog people can't miss it! When I started writing about Dewey and put his name in the title of my posts with my topics I started attracting a whole new group of people.

Finally, don't worry about gathering a big readership. The beauty of all this is that the one person who cares (or three people, or thirty, whatever) can find you. My readership is certainly not large, but it has sure helped me to connect with people working in this field. I've met with, spoken on the phone with, or emailed with nearly every influential author I am studying - and a handful of practicing educators. I only have about 40 subscribers that I can track, between bloglines and Feedburner. True there could be a lot more, but that seems to be enough for this magic to happen.

Incidentally, I don't know if you're following my FURL archive (I'm pretty active there), but I FURLed your hockey blog straight away... after your first email and before this one. :)

At any rate, I'd love to chat with you more about this... and I'm enjoying your posts.

-Mark
In his reply to me, Ted also included this bit (in addition to indicating his willingness to let me repurpose this conversation here):
One of the things that Leo Laporte said in his keynote at the Portable Media Expo was to "Podcast your passion."  Don't worry about readership/listenership...  It's good to be reminded of that.  I do enjoy what I do, and I need to keep that in mind much more.  I have no delusions of being really popular, but it is nice to be heard by some regulars (other than friends and family).
I hope our exchange might be useful to others. As Ted replied, "it's all for education."

-Mark

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