This month marks the end of my freshman year of blogging about school leadership.
When I began, my goal was to create content for others in my field but in a way that was accessible to anyone. Specifically, I wanted to record some practical how-to’s for new or aspiring school leaders.
It has been a modest start. After one year of blogging, I have 130 subscribers, and I am averaging 1,000 readers a month.
Although I would love more readership, I am pleased at the many new connections with friends and fellow school leaders around the world.
And I enjoy the process of writing and reflecting on the lessons I am learning in serving others.
Recently, I heard mega-blogger Michael Hyatt explain that by the end of his second year of blogging, he was averaging 1,000 readers a month. So, perhaps I’m on the right track.
I have had other principal friends ask me how I have time to blog. I don’t really have time, but I do have some strategies that have made it possible.
If you’ve ever thought about blogging as an outlet for what you do, or you’re just curious how I find the time to do it, here are some steps I took in year one that worked for me:
1. I set a goal to post once a week.
I know that blogging pro’s typically post more frequently than I do. But I set a once a week goal because I knew it was attainable for me. To keep myself focused on this goal, I chose Wednesday mornings before school as my posting time.
2. I learned the power of scheduling posts in advance.
During school breaks I will often write a number of posts and have them scheduled a week or two in advance of posting. That way when I am too busy to write, I already have my next posts ready to go.
3. I enjoyed the power of collaborating with other principals.
Almost on a whim, I decided to include interviews as a part of my blogging. This has resulted in over 14 interviews with school leaders, authors, and more! My guests have included state principal of the year winners, education writer Rubye Payne, researcher Carol Dweck, motivational writer Jon Gordan, and podcast sensation John Dumas.
4. I learned the boost that comes from guest posting.
Thanks to the generosity of George Couros, I also began guest-posting on ConnectedPrincipals. It was really encouraging to see my posts shared around the world and connect with new school leaders around the globe.
5. I learned the ease of use via WordPress and BlueHost.
I use BlueHost to host my website and WordPress as my blog writing tool. The great thing about BlueHost is the dependability. I like WordPress because I can create drafts and preview them before posting. I also learned (with help from tech-savy wife) the power of Plug-ins, including tools like social media buttons, affiliate banners, etc.
6. I learned the power of sharing via Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, LinkedIn.
I am still learning, but I have been amazed at the number of school leaders and others with whom I have connected through these venues. For example, with Twitter, I am just now discovering the ease of community conversations by searching and participating in hashtags like #educhat, #NASSP, #CPChat, and #Satchatwc.
7. I learned to utilize free app, Hootsuite.
I know there are others, but Hootsuite is a free app I use that helps sort my Twitter feeds. It also gives me the ability to schedule Tweets in advance that can also be sent to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts simultaneously.
8. I keep notes on my Ipad notebook and email to myself.
I know people who use Evernote or WordPress apps, but I simply use the Notebook app on my Ipad to keep notes on any idea that may later turn into a blog. That way, I have one place to find my ideas. Whether I’m online or offline, I can work on them there before transferring them to a WordPress blog-draft.
9. I rely on others for direction and inspiration for my how-to’s.
Probably the most inspirational blogger for me has been Michael Hyatt. His book Platform was a huge motivation for me to think about launching my own blog. Michael was the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing before striking out on his own. He is a huge believer that anyone who is interested in being a leader in his/her own field have a presence online for others to find your content.
10. I learned the practicality of lists.
One tip I gleaned from Michael Hyatt was learning how much readers like simple, easy-to-digest posts that are written with the reader in mind. He also uses lots of “steps”, “ways”, and “tips” in his title posts. I have been learning to do the same as I organize my ideas into easy-to-follow reads.
Because I made blogging a reflection on what I do everyday, it has been a pretty natural outlet for me. Sometimes I write while waiting for my daughter to finish practice. Often I write after the kids are in bed. Sometimes Saturday mornings are good writing times.
I have a long way to go from my first year of Principal Matters, but in the process on my first year, I have learned to set do-able goals, plan ahead, rely on others, leverage social media, and grow from collaboration with others. I’m looking forward to continuing the journey for year number two!
Now It’s Your Turn:
I would love some feedback from you. What are some of your ideas for ways I might improve content for Principal Matters during 2014? What are some ideas or topics you would like me to write about this coming year?
Perhaps you are further down the road than I am in blogging. What are some lessons you could share with the rest of us? Perhaps you are thinking of starting a blog. If so, what questions do you have about the process?
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