Teachers Listen Up! A Blog Will Help You Raise Your Profile. Here’s How To Do It
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Whether you’re a graduate student working on your degree, a teacher working in grade school, or a tenured professor, you can advance your career as an educator by blogging.
If you’ve considered the idea of starting a blog but aren’t quite sure how it could benefit your career, you’ve come to the right place.
Why Start an Educator’s Blog?
In this guide, we’ll show you:
- the benefits of blogging
- how to get started
- how to leverage your blog to boost your career
Education professionals can reap many rewards from blogging that can help propel your reputation among your peers and provide content to people interested in becoming teachers.
We’re not talking about blogging for your students (although we wouldn’t discourage it!). Rather, our focus is blogging for your colleagues and superiors.
Establish Your Authority
If you specialize in a certain branch of education — whether it’s special ed or history — a blog lends itself well to establishing your authority on the subject. Discussing your area of expertise through blog posts is a great way to become known as an expert. After you establish your expertise, you can use your blog to land speaking engagements at conferences, sell courses you teach, build up a platform for publishing a book, and much more.
Network With Other Educators
You probably already have a network of your peers but blogging allows you to reach people outside your local community and develop relationships with them. By simply offering your expertise and theories online, you can expand your professional network. You might even consider focusing your blog on the rigors of continuing education.
Help Those Who Can’t Afford Help
There are few things as rewarding as becoming a mentor to a protégé. People of all backgrounds and income levels aspire to become educators. You may choose to use your blog a way of coaching high school, college, or graduate students interested in educational professions. Your help could help someone realize their dream of becoming a teacher.
How to Get Started
You can get started today blogging today with one of the following free options. (If you prefer lots of control and don’t mind a steeper learning curve, you can delve into the world of self-hosted blogging by way of our handy How to Start a Blog guide.)
Free Blogging Platforms
Free blogging platforms abound. They’re the easiest way for educators to get started, regardless of your level of technical expertise. Don’t worry, there’s no stigma attached to freebie blog platforms; in this arena, your brain matters more than your wallet. Free blogging platforms include Edublogs, WordPress, Blogger, Medium, and LinkedIn
Edublogs is the gold standard of free blogs for educators. It’s owned by the same company that owns WordPress, but Edublogs offers features for teachers that WordPress doesn’t provide. For example, the “My Class” tool allows you to create an overall blog for your class and then connect student blogs to it. (Students can join for free, too.) Linking your students to your class blog lets you protect student privacy and moderate posts and comments.
The only drawback of free Edublogs is that the platform doesn’t allow Google’s search engines to crawl for your site. Thus, you won’t be found in Google’s results pages. If you’re writing a blog for a grade school class, that’s great protection from prying eyes.
However, if you’re blogging about research, education theories, or other meta-educational content, you should opt for WordPress, Blogger, or Medium, since they automatically submit your site and its posts to search engines.
Like Blogger, WordPress also has a set of free blogging tools for educators, called WordPress Classroom. You can invite students to participate in a classroom blog, or start a blog for a specific project. Classroom also has features that let you keep in touch with parents, your colleagues, or administrators.
WordPress blogs have a lot more bells and whistles than any of the other blogs on our list. Their choice of free themes and free plugins is extensive. However, it’s easy to get confused or sidetracked while pulling all the levers, so just keep it simple when you start. You can easily change the design or add functionality later.
Google’s platform, Blogger, supports educational features in the same way Edublogs does. If anything, Blogger is even simpler to set up than WordPress. Come up with a name, pick a theme, and you’re off and running!
If you have a Google account (e.g., for email), you’re 90% of the way to creating a blog. Blogger also submits your blog and posts to Google’s search engine automatically.
Medium’s platform looks slicker and more professional that the previous two platforms. It’s designed to look like an online magazine and, as such, it straddles the line between blogging and news media.
Medium is a great choice for starting a higher education or research blog. Medium lacks the depth of functionality of the previous blog platforms, but it does allow for interaction via comments. Also, your Medium posts can be found with Google via no effort on your part.
LinkedIn’s inclusion on this list may seem puzzling at first. However, today’s LinkedIn isn’t just for corporate drones. It’s recently rolled out more robust functionality for sharing information with the entire network, so you can think of LinkedIn’s “articles” as blog posts.
Although your LinkedIn posts can’t be crawled by search engines, they are shared with your network, making the audience super-targeted.
Other Free Platforms
Check with your school or university to see if they already have a blogging platform you could use. These platforms are internal to your school, so they won’t broadcast your expertise to the wider world, but don’t dismiss them out of hand.
You may find that you prefer blogging about subjects more relevant to your students than your colleagues. Also, internal platforms still provide you with a way to learn blogging skills and to make the habit of posting indelible.
How to Write Engaging Content for Educators
Once your blog is setup, you’ll need to think about the type of audience you want to attract. A good place to start is to identify the overall purpose of your blog. For example, as a professional educator, you may want to use your blog to establish your expertise on a particular subject, publish tutorials for grad students, or post humorous essays related to the teaching profession.
Here’s how to come up with a focus for your blog:
- Find a niche. Don’t try to be all things to everyone. In fact, it’s better to restrict your subject matter as much as possible. For example, you might not be able to match educational journals for depth of research or breadth of topics, but you can carve out a specialization in your favorite subject, history. Better yet, choose a narrower focus — say, on the history of your state or city. Follow your own interests to find a niche. If you’re unsure, chat with your colleagues about what they’d be interested in learning about from your specialty.
- Talk to your audience in their language. Early on you should choose how detailed you’ll get in your posts based on your audience. You can write jargon-filled, in-joke rich posts if you’re writing for your peers. If you’re outwardly focused, you might choose to use less lingo for education students who are looking for practical advice.
- Determine a posting schedule and stick to it. Consistency can’t be overstated. Keep your readers coming back by posting at regular intervals. A good interval to start with is posting once a week.
- Don’t be afraid to go long. Your audience and your topic will determine your typical post lengths. The more specialized the topic, the longer the post needs to be. Gone are the days when bloggers were advised to keep posts under 300 words. The length is really up to you. Just remember not to “tease” readers, but rather to provide them with value for spending time on your blog.
You might be wondering, how exactly does blogging help my career? Creating a blog and posting articles related to topics you want to explore forces you to explain concepts in simpler terms to a potentially wider audience than your colleagues at work or school.
Taking advantage of the opportunities that a blog brings helps you interact with a community of like-minded individuals and network with them. It also gives you a chance to demonstrate your skills. Some of the individuals who visit your blog may be influential leaders within major companies. If they are impressed with your work, you may get an opportunity to work at your dream job.
One of the most powerful features of a blog that allows you to interact with readers is its comments section. Allowing comments on your articles gives you a chance to get feedback from readers and update your content accordingly — or just start a conversation.
If you have a sizeable following, you may want to setup a mailing list through providers like Mailchimp or Constant Contact. This will allow you to send updates or even surveys to get to know what topics your readers want you to write about.
How to Find Interesting Topics
Most teaching professionals have a good handle on what’s making waves in their own specialties. If you stay up-to-date on educational changes and advancements, coming up with a way to mix those popular subjects with your blog’s niche should be a snap. For example, instead of doing a general post about changes in standardized testing, detail how changing standards could affect students at your particular school.
Here are some other ways to get topics for your niche:
- Quora is a goldmine, no matter what your specialty. Check out unanswered questions, popular topics, look for leaders in your field and find out what they’re posting about. We can’t overstate how helpful Quora can be.
- Set up Google Alerts for educational topics you’re interested in.
- Look at Google Trends and try to find an intersection between your expertise and popular topics, including those specific to your geographic region.
- Professional journals and industry leaders can point the way toward topics you can spin for your use.
Attracting Visitors to Your Blog
Although writing articles for your own blog can greatly help your own learning process, it doesn’t help if you don’t have visitors to your site. Increasing your reach is not tough but may take awhile. Initially, you may need to reach out to potential readers on your own. Participate in the comments on articles posted on your favorite education blogs and some bigger, more popular blogs too.
You don’t need a full-blown marketing campaign to get the word out about your blog. You can start by simply telling your colleagues, students, or clients about it.
Social Media for Educators
Social media is the internet’s version of word-of-mouth and it should be your first stop in promoting your blog and attracting visitors. Be sure to share your posts with your friends and followers on every social site you use and hashtag them appropriately.
You should also consider interacting in Facebook Groups that appeal to your blog’s niche. If there aren’t many Groups that cater to your specialty, start your own Facebook Group and invite your colleagues to join.
Educators should pay special attention to LinkedIn and Pinterest. If you’re writing primarily for your peers, getting active on LinkedIn is a good place to connect with others in your topic specialty. You can also take advantage of LinkedIn’s article publishing features and Groups to share useful content with your audience.
LinkedIn Groups to consider joining:
- International Association of Academic Professionals
- Innovative Learning & Education Innovators
- Mentors- Facilitators
- Teacher Resources For Better Teaching
Learn more about posting articles on LinkedIn:
A recent study showed that Pinterest is very popular with teachers for professional purposes. Get inspiration from other teachers on Pinterest and follow them. Most people will follow back. It’s a colorful and easy way to grow your professional network.
You can pitch bigger blogs your idea for a guest post. It’s a good idea to be familiar with the blog’s purview and to start by participating in forums and comments first. If you snag a guest post, be sure to promote it just like you’d do for your own blog.
Here are some popular education blogs that might accept guest posting pitches:
- Inside Higher Ed
- Blackboard Blog – Higher Education
- University World News Global Edition
- Faculty Focus | Higher Ed Teaching & Learning
- The 100 top teaching blogs
Additional Ideas for Promoting Your Blog
- Create a Quora profile that features your blog and answer questions in your area of expertise.
- Vlogging and podcasting can be an effective adjunct to your blog or vice versa. Be aware that if you go this route there will be a learning curve as you get familiar with the technology involved. You might even discover you prefer creating video or podcasts to blogging.
- Meetups can also be a good way to meet other educators and spread the word about your blog — just remember to be safe. Bring along some business cards with your blog’s URL on them. You might even find people you could interview as a feature for your blog.
How to Leverage Your Blog for Career Success
Using your blog as a platform, you can apply to speak at conferences that value your specific expertise. Some conferences pay their speakers but others consider the extra exposure a blogger gets as sufficient payment. Whether paid or not, a conference is a superb way of advancing your psychology career. So, get over your stage fright and get out there!
There are literally hundreds of popular educational conferences you can consider applying to:
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) sponsors regional conferences.
- Kennesaw State University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) maintains another huge list of conferences.
- Education Conferences in 2017 – including international conferences, ed-tech conferences, and charter schools, among others.
- You can even apply to give a TED talk about educational topics.
Case Studies: Pat Flynn and Sal Khan
When you start your blog, you’ll have a lot of enthusiasm. However, sometimes your passion can flag when it feels like no one is visiting your blog. Take heart, though, intrepid blogger. Don’t give up hope. Others have trod the path ahead of you and you can use them as role models.
- One major example is Pat Flynn’s own journey. He began his online endeavors while working in the architectural field and was studying for a green building certification. He decided to put study notes on his which not only helped him but others prepare for the exam. Eventually, his website turned into a prep course. Since then, Pat has launched several more sites.
- And, of course, there’s Khan Academy. Sal Khan started off creating what amounted to video blogs to help his cousin learn math and now his name is known worldwide for innovative teaching methods.
As an educator, blogging is a great opportunity to make the most of your career. You can use it to branch off into new realms of knowledge, tutor others, contact your educational heroes, and transform your career. It only takes an hour a week (or less). So, get blogging and good luck!
- Classroom blogging guide from Google
- Blogging for Academic Reputation, Rankings, and Scholarship [Notre Dame University]
- Edublogger’s report on the Current State of Educational Blogging 
- Using Blogging as a Learning Tool
- Medium for Higher Ed: Is it really worth my time?
- Tips for Choosing a Classroom Blog
- WordPress in the Classroom