Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What I have learned from 1,000 blog posts

Yesterday marked my 1,000th blog post, so I have decided that for my 1,001st post I would write about what I have learned from blogging over the past six years. So below, in no particular order, are some of my learnings from blogging:

  • My blog is me: All thoughts on my blog are my own, and I find it liberating that I can express them in my own way. The word "blog" is short for "Web Log" which is essentially a diary on the web. I like to record what I have done and write about things that I see and do. I have only ever kept a paper diary once - this was for the year 2000 when I got a present of a Whoseday Book. I updated this every day and sometimes look back on it to see what I was doing on a specific day. I do the same with my blog.

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com
Cartoon by Dave Walker.
Find more cartoons you can freely re-use
on your blog at 
We Blog Cartoons.

  • Careful What You Write, Eugene: Blogging by its nature forces people to be careful about what they write - it's the same with me. I check for spelling and grammar all the time to ensure that I don't look foolish and careless. But I also try to express myself in a way that readers will want to read. I try not to use bad language, and avoid any comments that could lead me to being sued. I am also careful to not be seen to be blogging at times when I should be doing something else (it's lunch time as I am writing this!)

  • Reference, Reference, Reference: In the last couple of years I have been better at referencing. I have always used hyperlinks to other sources, but I also now use quotation marks and italics for direct quotes, attribute content to others where necessary, and give the source of items like graphics I use. This is simply the right thing to do, and I have learned to do it better
  • Choosing topics: I blog about anything, and sometimes it is not easy to come up with a topic. Items like reviewing a movie or describing a family event are easy. But at other times I am stumped about something to write and I need inspiration from somewhere. I'll look up on-line news for ideas, or if there is something like an election on I generally have a go at writing about this as if I was a journalist. A good source of ideas is Twitter where I can get dozens of relevant ideas from the people I follow

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com
Cartoon by Dave Walker.
Find more cartoons you can freely re-use
on your blog at 
We Blog Cartoons.
  • Engaging with Others: Blogging allows me to share and communicate ideas with others. I get many comments on posts I write - some of them are supportive while others often take me to task on what I  write. It's important to remember that not everybody is going to agree with me all the time, so I accept (and publish) other peoples comments even if I don't like them

  • Not a Lot of People Read my Blog: Occasionally people will say to me "I read your blog...", and it's nice when this happens. The number of views are growing on a monthly basis - last December was the highest so far at 9,492 views. Most of these are as a result of Google searches. Since Analytics have become available in 2008, "eugenes blog" is the most searched term that drives traffic to the blog 
cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com
Cartoon by Dave Walker.
Find more cartoons you can freely re-use
on your blog at 
We Blog Cartoons.
  • Content is King: Management in SmartForce when I worked there (1989-2002) used to bore the pants off us by saying "Content is King". It's only now that I realise that this is at least partially true. Posts that attract the highest views are generally about things that people want to read about - no surprise there. Very few people care about what I think of the musical Oliver! (which I reviewed here), but one of my more recent posts about the Higher Education Landscape (see here) has been read by 380 people in 17 days. As I wrote yesterday, my blog is a personal treasure trove of content
  • Blogging has Established me as an Authority and Expert: (Or at least has gone some way to doing this). The traditional route for an academic to prove their authority and expertise over subject matter was to get a PhD, publish papers, and teach. Of these three I only can say that I do two - I do not write research papers any more. Blogging is an alternative outlet for academics to publish and express their opinion. And it is faster too. A published paper in a peer-reviewed journal will take several months (even years) from start to finish. A blog post can be written in an hour, and shared with your peers instantly. I predict that in years to come, a more important question at academic interviews than "How many peer-reviewed papers have you published?" will be "What do you blog about?"



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