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Incase You Missed It: Blogging Recap

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Incase you missed attending our roundtable discussion on blogging, speaker Jessica Castleberry was kind enough to provide a recap of the topics we covered. Join us for our next roundtable in November!

1. Program

The program I use and recommend is WordPress. They have a free version, but the more you upgrade the more capabilities and built in plugins you will have. There are other free blog options out there as well. Note: If you are interested in the readability analyzation plugin you must use wordpress.org and not wordpress.com (See below for more information about this plugin).

2. Topic Selection

I am frequently asked how I select topics, here are a few ideas:

  • Current events, legislation, classes, books, conversations, memories, and other blogs I read.
  • Another tool is Google Alerts. If you have a Gmail account, sign up for google alert topics that interest you. This is a great tool for “personalized newspaper” delivered to your inbox each day. Subjects on my Google Alerts are Leadership, Child Care South Dakota, Mentorship, Child Care Policy, and as I mentioned during the roundtable, Jessica Castleberry and Little Nest Preschool. This delivers online articles straight to my inbox pertaining to these topics!
  • Anytime a blog topic idea comes into my mind I put it in the notes in my phone. Don’t take the chance that you will forget any great topics!
  • Try to make titles short and eye-catching.
3. Content
  • Select your target audience and set goals for your blog (are you trying to persuade people to purchase or like your website, are you educating or entertaining?)
  • Optimal blog posts should be 800-2000 words, and written at a third grade reading level.
  • If you don’t have someone to serve as your editor, at least check your article in Word, or sleep on it. Errors can be much more obvious after a good night’s sleep!
4. Podcasts
  • Podcasts are a great way to drive traffic to your blog and also help vary your content. To do your own podcast:
  • Purchase a high quality mic (Blue Snowball mic is good enough quality and inexpensive).
  • Install a recording software (try Audacity, it is free.)
  • I like to send my interview questions to my subject ahead of time, this gives them a little more time to prepare.
  • When you record, try to sit in the corner of the room to avoid too much echo.
  • Remember to turn off your volume on your computer or you will get feedback on your mic.
  • Keep podcasts short (15 minutes or less) or they won’t upload.
5. How to Grow Your Audience

There are lots of great ways to grow your audience:

  • Create a mailing list. I do this through offering door prizes whenever I speak. People know they are being entered for the prize, as well as will receive ONE email inviting them to join the blog.
  • Consider creating a Facebook fan page of your blog. This will drive traffic to your blog, and you can create Facebook ads for it as well. Facebook ads are inexpensive and you are able to target specific audiences.
  • Post on other people’s blogs. You can point out one of your blog posts on a similar topic. You can also be a guest contributor to another blog.
  • Use the admin in WordPress to analyze when people are looking at your blog and try to post around that time. A good rule of thumb is Tuesday mornings, statistically people will be more apt to check it out.
6. Monetizing

There are several ways that I consider as “monetizing” your blog. For me, the most money I make from the blog is by posting it on LinkedIn and Facebook. This exposes my material to many more people and has resulted in being hired to speak, write, and teach courses. WordPress also offers the option to “monetize” if you purchase the premium package or above.

7.Make it Stick

It’s important to be consistent with your blog. Whether you post once a week or once a month, be reliable for your audience! Blog writing is in my schedule.

  • Put the app on your smartphone. This will help you monitor the blog and respond quickly.
  • I schedule blogs out. WordPress offers this feature, and it saves me a lot of time and worry on busy weeks or when I’m out of town.
Unanswered questions:

After our discussion there were a few questions that I wanted to answer more completely.

What is the WordPress plugin required to analyze your readability and offer editing tips?

The plugin required is called Yoast *The Yoast plugin is only available to those using worpress.org, not wordpress.com. To see the difference, click this link: https://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/.If you are using wordpress.org, here is how to install the plugin: Go to Dashboard > Plugins > Add New.

  1. Write WordPress SEO by Yoast in the Search box.
  2. Click the Install Now link.
  3. A pop-up alert box will ask if you really want to install the plugin, click OK
  4. In a few seconds the plugin will be automatically downloaded and installed.

Optimal posts should be at a third grade reading level. Since you know you have many professors reading your material, do you always keep your reading level low?

For the most part I keep posts near the third grade reading level, however I throw in a few more collegiate words every once in a while. Just as I would in conversation, even with students, I feel it is important to introduce others to a larger vocabulary! Just a selfish goal as an educator!

Do you always come up with brand new material for each blog?

I almost always post something brand new. If there is a topic that can’t be covered in one blog I will do a series and link them back to previous posts. I have, in a time crunch, very recently, used excerpts from one of my eBooks. I didn’t plagiarize myself however, I gave myself full credit, and I appreciated that very much.

What it all comes down to…

I think the key to blogging success boils down to three main ideas, consistency, content, and availability. If you don’t post regularly your audience will lose interest. If your content is all “SELL! SELL! SELL!” people will become disinterested. If you tell your story and engage them, or if you provide interest and value, you will sell yourself. Availability is important. If no one can find you there’s no point. You have to post on social media, add tags and categories, and use the other tips listed above to grow your audience. Whether or not you were able to participate, please reach out to me on social media! I would love to answer any questions and hear about your blog ideas. You can of course, also follow my blog, at https://earlyeducationplantation.wordpress.com/

Jessica Castleberry

Entrepreneur, Early Childhood Advocate, Speaker, Author

605-430-4268

www.jessicacastleberry.com

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