This past weekend I read a few blog posts specifically about education blogs and bloggers. I noticed a few of the posts shared by Doug Peterson on Twitter. His own blog was reviewed by a preservice teacher and it started some conversation and a response post by Sue Waters, “Blogging is personal.. or is it?” I found the discussion about voice and the personal aspects of blogging interesting. Sue offers some good advice to new bloggers. I also got thinking about how bloggers can be personal as well as personable and professional. It may all be about style of writing and personality as well. I think just having a blog involves some personal risk too. With each post there is a certain amount of personal risk-taking — whether resources or ideas or reflections are shared.
I think that it is okay if people want and look for different things from blogs. A blog that didn’t appeal at one time may end up having an appeal at another time. This could be due to the blogger’s or the reader’s change in situation or growth over the time. I read quite a few blogs regularly and I don’t have any problem if the posts take on a personal approach or offer a personal reflection or story. I enjoy “seeing” more of the person behind the postings. When I started tweeting and blogging, I never expected the connections and friendships that would come out of it. I also didn’t expect to continue as I did. I think having a chance to do personal stories or reflections on a blog helps me, so I won’t fault anyone else for doing the same. It isn’t always easy.
Nathan Hall’s recent post celebrating his own blogging connected some dots for me too. I thought he offered a great argument for reflective blogging and some great advice to help sustain blogging, be real, and take risks. Here is his list (but do read his full post please):
- Don’t focus on the numbers; they will only take attention away from what is really important. Does it really matter how many people liked your post? It may be that the one post that only gets a few visits might be just what one person needed to read that day. It’s all about the bigger picture
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. You are a person. People do stupid stuff from time to time. People are generally understanding, and if they aren’t, don’t dwell. Make this a time to learn from your less than glamorous moment and others will as well.
- Be real. This goes together with number two. You can try as you might to look better than you are or to pander to the masses, but most people will see through the thin veil of vanity and you will tend to lose strength in your message. Stay true to you.
- Don’t try to compete with others. It isn’t a game with others as your opponents. One thing I have learned more than anything during this time is that I am not the smartest, best, or any other superlative and I am more than content with that. I actually do think I have some things to share with others, but I gladly concede any titles to others.
- Push yourself, but don’t feel you have to always find something to blog. There have been more than a few times that I have put the writing to the side for a season. When I felt the urge to share something, I’ve picked it back up again. It has its ebbs and flows.
- When sharing your posts, put it out there a few times, especially on Twitter where it can be buried fairly quickly, but don’t overdo it. It is just a personal thing, but I don’t like to share a post for more than 24 hours on social media. After that, I feel like I look desperate for visitors and I don’t feel good about it. Again, this is just my own decision and others feel differently. Feel free to make your own choices on that.
I appreciate the personal and personable approach of bloggers like Nathan and Doug and many others. I think it is possible to “blog the personal” and still benefit others. Many bloggers do so from the good of their heart. It can be the great thing about blogs — choice in how and why you use a blog, as well as in which blogs you read, as Sue Waters discussed in her post as well.
But I am sure there are still some drawbacks to blogs for many. Can there be too much pressure to post what you think your readers expect? Too much choice? Is it different for education blogs? What sustains you in blogging and/or reading blogs?