Bloggers want more readers, and agonize over the content that will attract them. It can be heavy lifting: What is the brilliant idea I have to share? School bloggers need not agonize over content. Consider growing your internal audiences (including prospective applicants,) and illuminate text with pictures from the inside of a science lab or a team huddle. Get into the lives of students, and communicate their reality. Your publics will quickly become ravenous!
I’ve been blogging since 1998 (before the term was coined) and am told I have thousands of readers, but I don’t sweat over content. Blogging is easy if you let images lead the storyline. Here are some tips on this alternative strategy:
1. You want to be personal and authentic, so use more images. Many more. The more images you use, the more imperfect they will be, yielding the transparency and authenticity your readers crave. (Is it possible: quantity over quality?) Look at the last few days’ photos and ask: “What am I seeing that tells a story?” Photos are a great way to convey campus ethos or tone.
2. Use the trivial to illuminate grand truths. Lots of images will bring you to the trivial. “This is a biology class. Here’s what students are doing. Here’s how they’re doing it.”
Or: “This is what it’s like sitting on the junior varsity bench.”
But use these basic concepts to illustrate principles that distinguish your school. What methods do your teachers employ? What values does the school prize (as indicated by these images)? Write about how things are done — methodologies — and why.
3. Consider entertaining specific alternative constituencies. Students want to see their pictures on the web, and their parents and grandparents are ravenous for images of their children. Prospective applicants want to see real kids in action. So post images of kids being kids. It’s a win-win.
4. Stop talking about excellence. Instead, provide the immediate experience of excellence by sharing a class project, lab or activity. Think “bottom up” (trivial to grand principle) rather than “top down.” Writing about something will never stand up to conveying your personal experience of something.
5. When possible, don’t write about your images. Let them work their magic on their own. When a photo simply appears imbedded in text, the reader becomes an active agent, saying, “Oh, I get it!” Check out this recent blog I wrote about how school culture endures over the years, and notice how the images punctuate the text without needing captions or explanation: The Perpetuation of Intangibles.
6. In summary, start with images. What simple story can you illuminate with them? Do they reveal the nature of relationships? Teaching methods? Student aspirations? You will gain traction with readers through commonplace, human stories.
What about video? It has its place, to be sure, but video has a liability. As a consumer of blogs, the one thing I do not have is time. Juxtaposed to succinct text, still images work right now.
Have fun. (I am!)