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8 Academic blogging questions answered by veteran blogger Mark Leccese

The Elements of BloggingAcademic authors can reap many benefits from blogging, says Mark Leccese, author of The Elements of Blogging: Expanding the Conversation of Journalism, and the blog The Elements of Blogging, in his recent TAA webinar, Blogging for Academics: A Journalist Turned Academic Offers Tips, Techniques, Inspiration and a Few Warnings”. Here are 8 questions Leccese answered during the webinar that illustrate not only the benefits of blogging, but how academics can best reap those benefits. 

1) As an academic, what should I blog about?
Follow the rule of thirds. One-third of your posts should be related to your research, another one-third related to other research within your field that others are doing, and the last one-third about you—interests you have outside of academia, conferences you attended, life experiences, etc.

2) How can I find blogs that I want to guest blog for?
There are several ways you can go about this, but Leccese suggests using BlogSearchEngine.org. This site allows you to enter topics and keywords and, like Google, shows you a list of blogs that match those keywords. Once you find a blog, simply reach out to the author by email or utilize the comments section under one of their posts.

3) How often should I blog?
Weekly. The more posts you have the more likely you will be linked to by other bloggers and websites, thus increasing your chances of showing up in Google searches. Posting weekly also keeps your readers coming back to your blog frequently and shows new readers that your blog is up to date.

4) What is the best way to drive traffic to my blog?
Social media is the largest driver of blog traffic. If you have a Twitter account, tweet your post—twice. Tweet it once in the morning and then again in the late afternoon. Doing so will allow you to reach different followers, expanding your reach. Facebook and LinkedIn are other great social media platforms to use to drive traffic to your blog. Another way to drive traffic to your blog is to link to other bloggers. There is a good chance that a blogger will see that traffic is coming from your site (as long as that blogger looks at their analytics for traffic drivers). Often bloggers will reciprocate the “link love” as Leccese calls it, and link back to your blog.

5) If I blog about my research, should I be concerned of someone stealing my ideas and/or methods?
Be selective about the information you choose to share. Regarding a particular post in which he collected data Leccese says, “I would have written everything in a blog post about it—this is what I’m doing, this is what I’m looking at, this is what I’m noticing—but, I would not have posted my data set.”

6) What strategies can I use to write the most effective headlines for my blog posts?
First of all, always be sure to include terms a search engine will find. Then, create your headline around those terms. For example the terms for this post were “academic blogging” and “Mark Leccese”, from there a title was built. “Focus on nouns because that’s what people use to search,” encourages Leccese.

7) What kind of blog post should I publish (media, long-paragraph form, etc.)?
Bulleted lists work really well as blog posts. They are an easy way to quickly disseminate knowledge and share thoughts with your audience. Embedding videos and interactive graphics are other ways you can create blog posts that resonate with your audience.

8) How can I keep my ideas fresh and interesting enough to blog on a regular, consistent basis?
Grab ideas and be inspired from the people you follow on social media, other bloggers, relevant news, and books. Always carry a notebook to write down ideas as they come to you and keep a list of all of those ideas so you can refer back to them and see which ones you can actually turn into a blog post.

If you have yet to create your blog (and you are a TAA member), watch these videos for how to get started. Not yet a member? Join TAA today!