Recommendations for Using Blogs

Expectations

A visitor to your blog carries certain expectations, including: 

  • The blog will have been updated frequently and recently. When your blog's most recent post is actually recent, it gives visitors the impression that you are proud of your unit, that you have a lot going on and that you welcome their interest in your activities. 
  • You'll be personal, providing an inside glimpse of your unit. Blog readers know they are getting a real-time look, and they want a conversational tone. 
  • You'll provide visuals. Use photos and videos. On your blog, lower quality - even smartphone - images are fine; that less polished quality is part of the blog experience.

Storytelling tactics

Your blog doesn't just provide information; it also helps tell your story. Of course, some stories feel easier than others. If you're having trouble getting started, the following tactics may help: 

  • Tell a specific story with a specific point-of-view. (Example: You want to talk about all the great Study Away experiences your students are having. Instead of piling all experiences into a single post, tell one story about one student's adventures. To magnify that message, tell another story, then another.) 
  • Start in the middle of the action. (Example: When you write about a student's Study Away experience, begin when they're at their destination - as opposed to when they decided to consider Study Away.) 
  • Use details to convey meaning. (Quotes are great for this. Can you get a quote from that Study Away student? Something new they learned about themselves or something they'll really miss?) 
  • If possible, subvert expectations. (In that same Study Away story: how did the student's experience differ from common assumptions?) 
  • If possible, set up a puzzle or a mystery. (We are all hardwired to solve problems. Capitalizing on that instinct is an easy way to engage readers.) 

Formatting techniques

Using best practices for creating Web content will make your blog posts easy to consume. 

  • Lead with strength. Write a descriptive, specific title that lets your reader know what your post is about. 
  • Convey one idea per paragraph. 
  • Use internal headings to break up passages of text. 
  • For lists, use bulleted links. 
  • When appropriate, hyperlink to related sites or articles so that readers can keep engaging with your topic as long as they choose. 

Common questions