The Blog Plan

Blogs encourage online communication, help establish your online reputation, promote information sharing and are contributing to the growth of the semantic (meaningful) Web.
 
As a result, the planning of your site’s content, design, and navigation structure is crucial to your site’s success, and the only real measure of online success is the feel-good-o-meter of your readers.  Coincidentally, having happy visitors is directly related to the Googlebot smiling upon you.

Before you start building a site you need to write a plan.  Grab a coffee (or scotch), grab pen and paper (or computer), and find some time jotting down what you want on your site. 

It seems easy enough, but truly, this is where most people fall over. 

Usually, by the time people are reading this, they have already decided to put together a page, and have had some ideas about what they want to include – problem is, they haven’t written it down.  I’m guilty of this myself; often, my little people have put a question to me (or teach me something) and I think “Wow! I really should put that on the site,” yet, when the kids are at school, and the man of the house is at work, I find myself sitting in front of the PC, thinking, “What was that again?” 

Don’t do it.  It drives you nuts! This is the crucial step – don’t miss it.  Write everything down (and always carry a notebook with you).

Stuff to think about:
 
Determine who your audience is and find a way to offer value to them; if it’s not valuable, there won’t be any reason for them to come back.   Consider including:

  • Daily/Weekly/monthly newsletters
  • Homework assignments
  • Specific expectations of students (e.g. End of grade 1, comma and period)
  • Class Rules
  • Upcoming event details
  • Student work
  • Student photos
  • An always current class wish list
  • Links to your recommended reference sites
  • Links to fun stuff for the kids

Once you have it written down, you need to sort the information.  This will ensure you file it correctly when you are setting up your site; it also makes navigation easier for your visitors.

Google’s Adam Lasnik, a.k.a. That Adam Guy, recommends allowing comments on your site to start a conversation with your visitors; they love to ask questions and get feedback, particularly from people that are important to them – and you guys are.   This enabling of conversation has a natural side effect – it strengthens community.

Always, always, always, write about the thing you are most passionate about, and use your own voice…let people get to know who you are through your site.

Read voraciously.

Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress recommends you get to know what others in your field are doing by reading other blogs and news; you’ll know soon enough whether you have anything useful to contribute to the blogosphere.

To start, use blog search engines to search for terms important to you, be specific, search engines can take it.  Try “Second grade teacher” or “Grade 5 English.”  Use Google Blog Search, Sphere or Technorati.

Offer e-mail updates to your visitors, as well as an RSS feed.

If you don’t know what RSS is, get to know it real quick!

Avoid putting flashy and obtrusive advertisements on your site if you use other blog platforms.  WordPress has a “no tacky ads” principle, so you’re safe here.

Consider your privacy options.  Do you want your site available to search engines like Google and Sphere, do you want to block search engines from finding it, but allow people to read it, or do you want to password protect it.  Regardless of your choice, the process to setup your privacy options is easy, it’s done with three mouse clicks. 

Make your site your personal encyclopedia.  Find a space on your home page where you can include links to every online resource you use regularly.  By putting them together, you will save yourself the time you usually spend typing in URL’s, looking through your favorites folder, searching for that useful site you found a few weeks ago, and getting to your online e-mail.   Yes it may only be seconds you save each time, but if you use your computer a lot, it starts to add up.  In this always on world, it’s useful to be one click away from your destination.

Once you have established the plan, don’t get complacent.  Invite comments and participate in the conversation, and be flexible enough to modify the plan if change is required.

I have put together a Blog Plan Questionnaire that you can print out and fill in to make it easier for you to start thinking about.

Download the-blog-plan.doc 

Download PDF the_blog_plan.pdf

Advertisements

3 Responses

  1. Thank you, that was very helpful.
    Betty

  2. This is a very good “getting started” guide.
    I would, however, change the statement: “WordPress has a “no tacky ads” principle, so you’re safe here.”
    First, I think you’re talking about WordPress.com, not the software you can download from WordPress.org. Second, WordPress.com reserves the right to put ads on your blog, and some consider this tacky. But it is true that you are not allowed to put your own AdSense, etc., on your WordPress.com blog.

  3. Betty, you’re welcome, please feel free to ask any questions, I’ll do my best to get answers to you quickly – who knows, might help you, might help me think a little clearer…

    Andrew thank you for the comment, it’s brilliant and I love useful advice.

    I am definitely talking about WordPress.com, and thought I had made it clear on the Welcome page; thanks for pointing it out; I’ll try and think of a way to make it clearer. (If you have any idea’s I’d love to hear them.)

    As for “WordPress has a no tacky ads principle” as far as I know, that was Matt‘s take on the subject when I spoke with him a couple of months ago. There is a link to it at BlogWell Interviews

    The actual statement from WordPress.com re advertising can be found on their features page.

    This is the quote:

    Advertising

    “To support the service we may occasionally show Adsense ads on your blog, however we do this very rarely. In the future you’ll be able to purchase an upgrade to either turn the ads off or show your own Adsense ads and make money from your blog.”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: