In my last post, I talked about the connection between blogging and grad school, and why you should start blogging to help with your application package, and ultimately secure a spot in the grad program of your choice. What I didn’t mention was HOW to blog. SO! Here are some key tips for beginner bloggers and prospective graduate students:
1. Define your goals
Your blog has a greater chance of success if you know what you hope to accomplish with it (from the beginning). Are you trying to establish yourself as an expert in your field? Think ahead to what you’d like to gain from your blog in six months, one year and three years. Think about it as a “road map” for grad school ‘decision maker’ committees.
2. Write for yourself first
Ignore the fact that anyone else will read what you write; just focus on your thoughts, ideas, opinions and figure out how to put those into words. Write it and your audience will come. Stay true to yourself and your voice. People don’t care to follow sites so much as they care to follow people.
3. Keep it short (and KISS – keep it simple, stupid)
Keep it in the 1–2 minutes read-time length or 250-300 words (maybe even less).
4. Who are you and what can/do you offer?
Grow your online reputation, visibility and academic footprint – I’m not going to get into detail here, but utilize LinkedIn and Twitter for blog and academic visibility. LinkedIn can become your online CV, a place where others can easily see your skills, publications and education. People will find you and discover what your research is about.
5. Give away your knowledge
Don’t be afraid to showcase what you know. Too many bloggers hold back the good stuff out of fear of driving ‘target audiences’ away. Tease people with bits of information of give them a knowledge explosion. Let people know that you know what you’re talking out.
6. Make it worth referencing
Why would anyone want to ‘cite’ your posts for any reason? Just like interesting research is great because it leaves you (and others) with a fascinating finding or an idea, try and make your posts just as fascinating. That doesn’t mean relying on research, but simply making sure each post has an original lesson, actionable item, or ‘food for thought’, making your audience want to share your knowledge and information – ‘citing.’
7. What is your call to action?
Finish your blog post with some kind of call to action. This can be a mention to follow you on Twitter or connect with you on LinkedIn. It can also be a hyperlink to a recently published piece of writing that you want to have made more visible. Or all of those things.
8. Give it time
Plan to invest in blogging for a long time. The web is a big, noisy place and unless you’re willing to invest a lot of time, you’ll find success nearly impossible. If you’re seeking a quick path to recognition, blogging might not be the right strategy in your hopes of being accepted to grad school. This seems pretty daunting, but if you can stick it out, you will have the opportunity to learn, improve, and achieve.
In academic papers you need to get to the point. You need to be comprehensive and concise at the same time. You need to be technical yet readable. You might as well apply the same (academic) knowledge in creating and maintaining your own blog – just add personality. So the best graduate school advice you could get is write, write, and write some more.
WordPress is a great place to start.