So far, you’ve introduced yourself, determined a focus for your blog, and made your first posts. This week, you’ll identify points of contact that will help you stay in touch with your community of interest.
Part 1: Refine your focus
Last week, you created an “About” page with your blog’s mission statement. Now that you’ve had a chance to write some posts in this area, refine your “About” page and add some depth. Remember these points:
- It’s not about you. Make sure your focus is a larger conversation, not a diary or “expert advice” (you’re not one) or “my crazy life” blog (nobody cares). How can you connect with a larger community?
- Remember: No advice blogs, no reviews, no profile-only blogs, no whatever else I decide is off-limits (don’t worry, I’ll tell you if you’re doing it)
- It’s not about everything. Avoid being too broad (e.g., “pop culture”) – if you say you will write about something general like “sports,” you’ll need to spell out what a reader might get out of reading your site compared to the countless other sports sites out there.
- Think of yourself as the intersection of a Venn diagram with at least 2-3 circles
- It’s not just links. Links are necessary, but a successful blog needs to add something to the information it synthesizes from elsewhere. Linking to a bunch of stories about the Pittsburgh Penguins is not blogging.
Part 2: Identify sources to help you
Blogging isn’t something you have to do on your own. With your focused topic in mind, it’s time to identify some sources to help you on that path. You will identify at least 10 individuals to follow: At least five bloggers and at least five social media accounts. Each of these should be a spiritual cousin to your own – they do something related to what you hope to do.
- Blog Example: Dead Frog is Todd Jackson’s blog about the comedy business.
- Social Media Example: Josh Marshall is the editor of Talking Points Memo. He tweet regularly about political coverage.
A few cautions: These can NOT be general, non-blog sites (e.g., @NYTimes, ESPN.com), but you may link to an individual blogger on such a site as long as you justify why that writer is an excellent source for you. The point is not to link to news sites you already know, it’s to find people and communities that are part of the conversation you want to join!
Part 3: Identify issues to cover (and the actual assignment)
As we’ve discussed this week, you need to get out of the way and cover your community and the current issues that concern it. After reading your sources, you must identify five timely subjects or issues they’re talking about that could serve as the focus of one (or more) of your upcoming posts. Each must include at least one link (more is better) to current discussion on the subject and explain what the focus of your post could be.
You’ll need to complete the following steps:
- Add a blogroll (Links > Add New > Create a “Blogroll” category) and add your 10 blogs/accounts to it (5/10 pts for Assignment #3)
- Write a blog post explaining (in 1-2 sentences each) each of the five issues you’ve identified and how you might cover each in an upcoming post – don’t forget to include relevant links for each item! (5/10 pts for Assignment #3)
- This post must have a meaningful title, not a label (please don’t just call it “5 issues”) – you need to write more than just a list. At the very least, you’ll need an intro and a conclusion explaining why these 10 things go together. The end results should look more like an actual post than a class assignment! (5/5 pts for weekly blog post)
Due: 4p, Wednesday, Jan. 30 (due a day early so we can review in class)
- To receive credit for this assignment, you must add a link to your post (with a short description) in a comment to this blog post.
- You can post on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday as long as it’s up by 4 p.m.