Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Content: Key to Getting Blog Readers

“For a blog to be successful, your content needs to be useful and unique to your readers,” according to authors Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett, authors of the book Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. While Rowse and Garrett mostly define success in the amount of revenue generated by a blog, their advice is also useful to those of use who engage in education blogging for very different reasons.
Obviously, blog traffic, the number of visitors to a site, is important to revenue. If the goal in blogging is to engage others in the global conversation about education, traffic should matter too, because your blog needs to be read by others to be influential. According to Rowse and Garret, it’s useful and unique content that increases the traffic to your blog.
Cover Image
In their book, Rowse and Garrett offer the general blogger some types of  useful content that can generate traffic. The things they indicate are:
  • Entertainment: Content that is amusing in some manner.
  • Education: Content whose purpose is help readers learn something about a particular topic.
  • Information: Content whose purpose is to inform readers about an issue, product, or topic.
  • Debate: Content whose purpose is to engage readers in a dialogue or debate on a topic.
  • News: Content that tries to keep readers current on events of the day.
  • Community: Content that connects like-minded individuals who are interested in a common topic.
While this list is useful from a general blogging perspective, it made me think about what kinds of blog post content are education blog readers are interested in reading. In other words, what does “good content” look like on an educational blog? As a reader of many education blogs and a writer of one, here are some of my suggestions for “good content” on an education blog.
  • Resource Sharing: Content of this type offers readers suggested ideas or resources. A blog that focuses on the classroom teacher might offer a description of new Web 2.0 tool that can be integrated into classroom use. A blog that focuses on educational leadership might offer suggestions to school administrators different ways to deal with a technological problem. In my experience, this type of blog post content seems to generate a great deal of blog traffic and comments.  For example, some of my own most successful posts have those sharing iPad app lists or Web resources for schools. In my experience, blog-reading Educators like to read about additional resources, especially technological ones.
  • Issue-Opinion-Commentary: Content of this type usually attempts to tackle one of the roaring issues of the day, such as merit pay or testing. In these posts, the content argues for or against an issue stance, and usually links to resources supporting that argument. Some education bloggers use sarcasm and ridicule as tools to support their opinions. This content is used by educators to express their views on the pertinent educational issues of the day.
  • Critical or Critique: While some would argue that there is little difference between this content and Issue-Opinion-Commentary content, I characterized this content as more of trying to take an objective approach to a topic. Blog posts that are critical examine a subject from various angles and perhaps leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions. Content of this type seeks to engage readers’ thinking on the topic under examination.
  • Informative: Content of this type simply seeks to inform readers on a specified topic. For example, this content could take the form of a book review or a description of a new policy or procedure adopted at a school.  In my own blogging I still do the occasional book review. I have also tried to be informative on topics like how to develop and implement a wireless access policy for your school. Informative content draws readers who are seeking specific information.
  • News: Education news is something educators always like to read, and this type of content can generate blog traffic. But unless you are in a position of obtaining news, this type of content is often hard to develop. Most bloggers posting educational news usually provide simple links to the actual sources of that news. For example, I encountered one educational blog post about cyberbullying where the author provided simple links to external sources for accounts of cyrbullied students. News content seeks to inform readers of some current event.
  • Lists of Links: Another type of content found in educational blogs are lists of links. This type of content seeks only to connect readers to external resources. There is very little commentary or descriptions. There are simple hyperlinks to resources themselves. Content of this type seeks to provide blog readers with a quantity f possible resources.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive. It is simply my attempt to capture the kinds of “useful content” found on educational blogs. The truth is, if our goal is to engage others in the global education conversation, we have to ensure that we are part of that conversation. To do that, you have to have readers, and according to Rowse and Garrett, good content brings readers.


  1. I would add: good content is also succinct and well written. Seth Godin's blog is a good example.

  2. Yes, I'd agree.Though I struggle with that one.