Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Open Letter on Under-writing and Over-publishing

This is the 4th 'Open Letter' in a series about making better use of our blogs.

Dear Students,

You might not have wondered yet about how it is that so many teachers in your school are able to read so many student blogs. Most of us use Google Reader, which pulls all of the student blog posts together in one place for us. We subscribe to each student blog URL, and then Google Reader keeps us updated on all of your new posts.

This is a great thing for teachers, and other people who like to keep track of new additions on many different websites, but the drawback is that we can get overloaded with things to read. Once this happens, we stop reading your posts properly, or maybe unsubscribe so that we're not reading them at all.

It usually takes quite a while to build up your readership for your blog. You have been given a headstart as your teachers, and maybe some of your classmates, are reading your work. In order for you to keep these readers and add more, you need to look after your 'audience'.

Obviously you can do this by ensuring high quality posts. You should also be mindful of not posting if you don't really have much to say. If you're just jotting down some ideas, then you're best to save the post rather than publish it, and return to it later to improve it. If you continue to publish many brief, boring posts, people will stop reading your blog because you're basically clogging up their Google Reader feeds. On the other hand, if you publish very good posts, more people will subscribe to your blog. Google even offers you the chance to make money from your blog if it's very, very popular.

There are some good ways to track who has been reading your blog, and this becomes quite addictive. In your sidebar, you can add a feed meter (which keeps a count of the number of visitors you have had), a clustrmap (which displays each visitor as a dot on the globe), or Feedjit (which shows the latest visitors, and from where they viewed your blog). If you want very detailed statistics, you can add Google Analytics.

Take it easy,
Pat Wagner

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