Class: Blogging Best Practices, 4/11/11

Better way late than never on this one, I suppose. Monday night was the first of three editions for Blogging Best Practices. All nine students showed up. It went surprisingly well, especially considering I had only a nebulous idea of what I wanted to teach on Friday and 45 minutes to prepare the actual lesson before class. I suspect it illustrates the importance of knowing your material. Monday’s busyness continued through the week, but I’d like to nail down a few thoughts while they’re still lukewarm in my memory. The class notes are at the end of the post.

First, it’s a diverse class in many measurements. As a practicing playwright, one student wants to start a theatre and movie review blog. I had to help her log into the computer. Another is working for a startup and needs to develop a product marketing strategy that involves producing high-quality, relevant content. The best way to address this diversity is to make the class as dynamic as possible. Leverage the strengths of each student, and make their curiosities everyone’s curiosities. We did this by making the period highly conversational and using a collaborative Google Doc as a reference point.

One post-class survey:

I liked the open approach, the attendees have several interesting questions and the fact that we all have different backgrounds and level of knowledge makes it better.

Another post-class survey:

I found it useful using shared google doc and the prepared questions and notes that were were able all link to. I also found it useful that we had open discussions with Daniel and was very helpful that he gave us examples of sites.

To improve the approach for next time, I think I should prepare more links and examples for the Google Doc. If a student gets bored of what we’re talking about because they already know it, I’d much rather have them learn onward than switch their brains completely off topic.

We have a class website for the time between physical classes. My hope is they take to posting questions there and answering one another. I’ve also created individual websites for each person to practice publishing for the duration of the course.

The challenging thing for me at this point: satisfaction with a course could but doesn’t necessarily correlate with the quality of the course. I wish I knew how to test for and evolve the latter.

Introductions (12 minutes)

Blogging Best Practices, the course

  • Three Monday nights: April 11th, 25th and May 2nd
  • 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm in room 440
  • Largely free-form, ask questions whenever you have them
  • Fan of collaborative notes on a Google Doc; please add to them
  • Course website: http://bbp2011.danielbachhuber.com/

Who I am

  • Daniel Bachhuber
  • digital media manager at the CUNY
  • Blogging since 2007; variety of content
  • danielbachhuber.com
  • d@danielbachhuber.com

Who are you? (Name, Where you work, and favorite web tool)

  • Erika Suban, freelance writer for Italian magazines, social media tools
  • Christopher Boland, Associate Editor, ONE magazine/Catholic Near East Welfare Association
  • Christina Ruggieri, Marketing Consultant / Blogger, WordPress.org
  • Emily Theil, iboutiques.com marketing PR, blogger, google, twitter, facebook
  • Chantal McLaughlin, EVP/Editorial Director, iboutiques.com, Google Alerts/Google Docs/Google Images/Tweetdeck
  • Evelin Maciel Brisolla, journalist, TV Câmara (Congress’ TV in Brasil); social media and google
  • Nancy Blazquez, formerly of Bloomberg News (Radio Producer/Reporter)… No favorite web tool that I can think of.

Reading discussion (20 minutes)

Stock and Flow

Stock is content, similar to money in the bank; content that is relevant right now, this minute, as well as 3 months from now (ie. good stuff with longevity). Flow is more in the moment, fleeting news updates perhaps with less substance. Flow is the latest rumor about Twitter, or lessoriginal. Stock is like a commodity. It has less of a news peg and if it does it’s only because it’s some sort of deep analysis.

Check out blog by John Gruber; Daring Fireball, is very “flow”; he has anywhere between 2 and 8 posts a day that are short pieces. The title actually links to the original article and the star icon links to the post. He’ll pull a quote from the piece that he’s linking to. He’ll also for example, see his piece on Bloomberg iPad App; brief nugget of analysis, kind of snarky. Short updates that are reactionary, talking about corporate announcements for example. He also has long pieces too that tend to be picked up by other people. His beat is Apple and technology beat, a premier blogger around Apple news. He uses The Deck ad network.

http://daringfireball.net/2011/03/pricing_should_be_simple

How the Web and Weblog have changed Writing

There are no rules: you can write as long as you want.

Why we link: #J361 presentation on curation

Importance of transparency and authenticity on the Web. Be the authoritative source for whatever your beat is.

Examples: Google, The Drudge Report.

What is blogging? (30 minutes)

Blogging is:

  • publishing on the web
  • timestamps displaying certain date and time of publication
  • has many different forms including short, Twitter-like status updates an John Gruber-esque posts as we’ve seen where he pulls choice graph from a piece he’s linking to, and blogging is also really long blog posts. Check out Felix Salmon, a blogger for Reuters who does really long analysis pieces.
  • blogging is conversational
  • blogging is interactive and can be different mediums (audio; video; photos). Check out Big Picture blog. Creative commons. website. allows for you to copyright your work/photos easily and legally
  • The Web is built on good will so you should contribute to that.
  • http://www.niemanlab.org/

How is blogging different than X?

Terms you might’ve heard

@todo Cover this section next time: Types of blogging

Important things to consider when starting a blog

  • Who your audience is; identify what needs you want to be serving; figure out who your competitors are (branding)
  • Who’s your audience? (Average age? Sex? Income? How to find out – The Pew Research Center.)
  • How often you publish
  • Find a niche (the market you are going after)
  • Take small steps
  • Copyright Laws (licensing photos, trademark issues, etc. How to stipulate whether or not others can use content from your site: www.creativecommons.org- allows you to choose types of use of your work – whether others can use for free, or they have to pay for a license)

Between now and next class

  • Daniel: Send three links to read tomorrow and at the beginning of next week
  • Daniel: Create test websites for everyone in the class
  • Daniel: Prepare WordPress reference material

Topics for next class

  • More review of terms
  • What you should consider when you’re setting up WordPress
  • Legal considerations for bloggers
  • Overview of genres of the most common types of blog posts
  • Cover the types of blogging mentioned in first class agenda that wasn’t covered
  • Overview of “protocol” or etiquette of the blogosphere in terms of Blog Rolls, seeking and pitching guest bloggers/blog posts
  • Which tool is better to post video?

Topic for last class

Basic HTML

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