What makes an effective blog post?

This is my post for the Edublogs Teacher Challenge Activity 2.

I have chosen the 2010 Edublogs Award winner for best blog post by Frank Noschese (@fnoschese) on The $2 Interactive Whiteboard,not only because it won an award but more so because I know it was effective from personal experience having read this when it came out  last year; I immediately started following @fnoschese on Twitter. If you’re reading this post as part of the challenge, I highly recommend you read Noschese’s winning post.

5 Steps to Characteristics of an effective blog post

The challenge asked for steps but I’d rather go for characteristics because I think it’s more about features rather procedure.

  1. It is personal. Blogs are typically personal reflections and the best and perhaps easiest voice to have is one’s own. Then it sounds authentic (because it is) and real passion can come through. Noschese’s post was certainly personal because it related not only his views but his actual experiences in using both IWBs and $2 whiteboards.
  2. It is easy to read. I read somewhere that people struggle to read more than 300 words – then it becomes “too long and  I don’t have time for that”. If more words are required (as some posts do), then have visual breaks. Use relevant section headings, text formatting, colour, images, paragraph breaks, accessible language, coherent structure, spellcheck, etc. Noschese’s post is definitely more than 300 words but it was still easy to read. By the way, this does not mean dumbing down content.
  3. It offers something for the reader. Good posts entertain, challenge, affirm and/or inform; some blogs even have freebies or blog candies to take away. Noschese’s post definitely does all of these (no blog candy though; buy you’re own – they’re only $2 each).
  4. It provides links and attribution. This is important for various reasons, not the least of which is that it provides readers opportunity to see the context of the post and the blogger. Of course, there are the legal reasons as well and academic rigour. This is part of the blogging culture. Noschese has certainly done that with links to his own related posts as well as external material.
  5. It promotes conversation. Invite readers in with a good headline. Ask questions. Reply to comments. Tweet it. Yep, Noschese’s post fits the bill.

I can go alternative here and say an effective post has mind, heart, body and soul but that would just be so hard to explain – especially in 300 words.

5 Effective blog posts ideas

This is quite tough and perhaps the reason why I’m doing this challenge in the first place, i.e. struggled with what to write about. I’ll try anyway.

  1. Anything how-tos
  2. Tell a classroom anecdote. What happened when you introduced a new topic? How did you do it?
  3. Reflect on and share blog posts that entertained, challenged, affirmed or informed you
  4. Theme, e.g.  Serendipity Sunday – blog about something you discovered serendipitously every Sunday
  5. My PD – document what you learned and what you will act on. Invite ideas from others

Disclaimer: All of the above are my opinions based on personal experience. These are not backed by rigorous research. Feel free to enjoy, use and adapt. And if you are to criticise, feel free to do so as well but please be gentle. All comments welcome!!!!

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18 thoughts on “What makes an effective blog post?

  1. Russell Ogden says:

    Thanks for the reference to Frank Noschese’s blog Malyn. I have added him to my reader and will certainly be interested to have a close look around!

    I appreciate and concur with your sentiments on effective blogging. I think you covered some important points. I also like to add an image where possibles to my posts. Do you regularly use any image sources other that Flickr?

  2. mrsjwilson says:

    I love your five ideas for posts. They are fabulous. Also, thanks for the link to Frank’s blog. I do not think I have visited it before, but I recognized a lot of names among the commenters on the post.

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Emil Harden says:

    I love the “mind, heard, body and soul” idea. That really does sum up a good blog post! And thanks for the great link. A new blog for me, so I’m happy to add that to my Google Reader.

  4. Kathryn says:

    Malyn
    I can relate really well to your post. Thanks, actually I went to read the $2 whiteboard and then as I perused it I realised I had read it last year. Doesn’t he have a great draw in for his heading.

    I like your points about effective posting, and some ideas for posting. I feel uplifted and that it is withing my range of challenge. Thanks for that. Requiring me as a blogger to blog like top experts would be a big turn off so thanks for resisting that.
    Kathryn

  5. Lydia Schultz says:

    I agree with what you say–and you embody it well in this post. One thing that you have done well, which I still need to work on, is to make your post visually accessible. I am coming from an academic background, and it is difficult for me to think in “visual bites” to make it possible for people to process what I have to say.

    You can see what I had to say for this activity at Book Frontiers.

  6. malyn says:

    Hi all. Thanks for visiting and all the wonderful comments.

    @RussellOgden – I tend to just use FlickrCC but recently favourited this tweet by @web20classroom http://blogs.sitepoint.com/2009/04/30/30-creative-commons-sources/
    It could be very useful

    @Kami PD stands for Professional Development. People generally use it for formal training/workshops/conferences. I tend to use it for any activity that improves my professional practice. In this sense, Twitter and reading other people’s blogs, articles, etc are all PD for me.

    @LydiaSchultz I know what you mean about academic writing. It took me a while to get the hang of it coming from the corporate world. Less is more. Use accessible language.

  7. Sheri Edwards says:

    Thanks for your list of effective blogging. I especially like the last one: promoting conversation. Even if the conversation is just within the reader, a blog post that causes us to pause and think, and perhaps, share and comment is a powerful blog. Great point!

  8. Anne Mirtschin says:

    Your five features of an effective post resonate well with my thinking too. As Sheri said, the ability to trigger and maintain conversations is a powerful element of blogging that must be promoted.
    This challenge has provided that amongst many of the bloggers. It is really interesting to go back and read the posts and the attached comments as there is a great deal of rich material there. Your five effective post ideas are terrific as well, so thanks for completing two of the options.

  9. Stacy Nockowitz says:

    Great post on posts! It’s funny that you mention the $2 interactive whiteboard post. I LOVE that piece. In fact, I just sent it as a link to the faculty at my school as food for thought.
    You’re so right that good posts should promote conversation. I need to remember that when I write.

  10. Frank Noschese says:

    Mayln,

    Thank you for your kind words and analysis of my post! Your 5 blog post ideas are exactly the types of posts I enjoy reading and writing the most. Especially #2 and #5 — anything directly related to students and the classroom. What are the teachers and the students DOING? Include pictures/video and samples of student work. I love those types of posts!

    Have fun with the challenge!

    Frank

  11. Michael Grether says:

    Mayln,
    Great list, especially for those who like lists. Also, excellent use of colors in your layout. I definitely agree with your idea about themes. It hits to a greater point about putting time, thought and effort into your writing. Themed posts take a great level of creativity to pull off effectively, but make a blog worth visiting frequently.

  12. Jee Young says:

    Wow, I really like your 5 effective blog post ideas & characteristics of a blog! I agree that blogs need to be personal. I also just subscribed to Noschese’s blog! It’s a great website with fabulous resources. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Christy says:

    I liked how you emphasized your ideas with color. It’s easy to spot and read your main idea. I also like your disclaimer at the bottom. It cracked me up. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

    -Mrs. Berry

  14. avandette says:

    What makes a post effective is one that invites participation from everyone. If your post is not interesting, nobody will want to comment and consequently the blog will die.

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