The Problem with Blogging

Fingers on keyboardThere's no point in beating around the bush. The main problem with blogs is that they're hard to maintain.

After the first few months, you begin to understand that like anything else, it's work. And not just a little bit of work. It's a lot of work.


I began blogging in 2007 and have been both a faithful and an unfaithful blogger in the time since. However two years of steady writing at a time is the most I've been able to accomplish before falling off the blog wagon.

Oh, there's tons of excuses. I've used them all. But once you stop writing on your blog, it's easier to stay stopped than it is to start again. I've probably spent more time thinking about NOT blogging than I have about what to write in the first place.

My most successful blog was my children's literature blog –Crazy4KidsBooks Upon reflection, I think the reason that blog was successful comes down to three things.

  • Clarity – I reviewed children's books. Just for the joy of it. Since things on the Internet never die, the blog is still there. The content is mostly book reviews with an occasional rant about funding school and public libraries. I was totally clear on the blog's purpose and function.
  • Community – Once I began, I was almost immediately welcomed into the community of children's literature bloggers. A wonderful ragtag group of teachers, parents, librarians, writers, illustrators, and folks from the publishing industry. And what's not to like about talking books with other readers and finding boxes of books on your doorstep each month?
  • Contribution – Although the most popular books might be reviewed on multiple blogs, there was an interesting lack of redundancy between children's book blogs. Each reviewer had their own interests and experience that colored their choice of titles. So together (at that time roughly 500 of us), we produced a large canon of book reviews and opinions that celebrated our love of good stories. They, of course, have continued to create wonderful content in my absence.

So, can I extrapolate anything useful from this experience and apply to my now third refresh of this marketing blog?

At this point I can tell you that being passionate about marketing or even about helping teachers and students is not enough to keep most people showing up at the keyboard for weeks, months, and years.

I think the three points above are actully key success criteria for any blog. It's not enough to love what you do.

It's about finding clarity, building community, and making a contribution.

In our world of educational publishing, being focused and clear about who our community is and how we can help them is the first requirement. What information do they need to accomplish their goals?

Building a community of people who resonate with what we have to share is another key ingredient. Learning and sharing with others is collegial and fun.

By helping educational companies share their customer stories, we contribute to the body of information called  'What Works' in education.

My goal continues to be helping educational companies tell their stories about changing the lives of teachers and students. In restarting this blog, I'm going to keep in mind the three lessons from above – finding clarity, building community, and making a contribution.

We'll see if I can beat my two-year blogging record by sharing successful marketing strategies with educational publishers and providers.

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Does Common Core Have a Branding Problem?

  This article was first published at MCH Data's blog.

In her first piece for the new Education Post, Tracy Dell’Angela suggests that the real issue around Common Core Standards is that they have a branding problem.

confusion.jpgReferencing the 2014 EdNext data, she says: “Americans… want clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do in math, reading and writing from elementary through high school. Maybe they don’t like the name, but they want what Common Core offers. They know we must expect more from our children.”

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3 Reasons to Use Twitter in Your Educational Marketing

twitterMost companies use Twitter the same way they use advertising – as a one-way communication blast. Although it is easy to set up and manage your Twitter account this way, it is limiting and off-putting to your target audience. They quickly see through your self-serving Tweets, and tune you out. Often, for good. If you think of your website as “information central” and your Twitter account as an “outpost,” gathering and sharing intelligence, then you’ve got the right idea.The three best ways to use Twitter in your marketing are:

 

  • Research
  • Building Awareness
  • Establishing Authority

You can think of research in this sense as keeping your ear to the ground. Educators are talking and sharing on Twitter. They share what’s happening in their classrooms and schools, what they think about education issues, and what they need help with. Twitter is a direct channel to the connected educator…the educator who is actively invested in learning how to be more effective by connecting with other educators across the country. Building a community of interest and awareness of your products is the goal on Twitter. It is not a direct sales channel. As you know, educators are particularly sensitive to marketing spiels. Once they determine you are more interested in selling your stuff than in helping them, they’re gone. They’ll pass right over you.

So, how do you build community and awareness without turning off educators?

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Should You Outsource Your Marketing Content?

writer on a laptopMany education companies do not have a fully staffed marketing department. They often have a marketing plan but lack the resources – time, money, or staff – to fully execute their plan. Budgets are tight. Everywhere. In a relationship-oriented industry such as ours, there are many people to turn to for help writing marketing content such as web articles, email campaigns, case studies, white papers, blog posts, sales sheets, and more. Marketing professionals often turn to former colleagues or established consultants for help. When you decide it’s time to reach out for help, what should you look for? Certainly good writing skills, timeliness, professionalism, and the ability to communicate clearly are all important. But even more important, in my opinion, is an understanding of and experience in the education marketplace. Both K-12 education and higher education have their own rhythms, cycles, and priorities. Often, the user is not the buyer. It is important for contract writers to understand how these markets work. Prime examples include:

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STEM Skills Scarcity in Today’s Marketplace

This article was originally published at MCH Data's blog.

There has been so much controversy about the Common Core over the last year that it’s helpful to remember that it was initially the business community that called for a set of benchmarked skills to ensure that high school graduates were ready for college and career. Businesses needed high caliber applicants to take jobs in the 21st century economy.

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Our New Library: Why Public Libraries Still Matter

This past weekend, our long-awaited new branch library finally opened. We’ve been waiting more than seven years for it to be built. The old branch that it replaces has been closed for many years.

Situated right next to our fire station, it is the new hub for our community here in northeast Greensboro. There were many projects that bumped the library down the city’s “to-do” list over the years, but it is here now.

The grand opening was so well attended, I couldn’t get anywhere near it on its opening day. When I visited on the following day, I saw a 21st century space full of light and open spaces and people.

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Discover Expanded Opportunities in New SIIA Research

marketing opportunitiesThis article was first published at the MCH Strategic Data blog.

According to the SIIA 2014 Vision K-20 Survey Report, almost 60% of schools and districts do not feel “highly prepared” with adequate bandwidth or with adequate devices and hardware to begin implementation of the required online Common Core testing in the spring of the upcoming school year. Based on these survey results, it is clear that bandwidth is not keeping up with demand in K-12 schools and districts.

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State Reversals of Common Core Pick Up Momentum

This article was cross-posted at the MCH Strategic Data blog.

As Betsy Corcoran noted in EdSurge recently, it’s a year since Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) called for a moratorium on any high-stakes consequences from Common Core tests. Representing the interests of her members, Weingarten expressed a desire for caution as the country transitioned to the more rigorous standards. Over the last year, many other voices have joined the AFT’s in concern about the fairness of tying teacher evaluations and paychecks to test outcomes in the first year or two of the implementation.

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The State of the Core

This article originally appeared on the MCH Data blog.

At the beginning of this 2013-2014 school year, we wrote here about the emerging discord and concern around the Common Core Standards. Just to refresh, the main objections centered on the following:

  • The Common Core comprises a “stealth” federal curriculum
  • Adoption was coerced by the tie-in to federal education funding
  • Too few teachers involved in their development
  • Sticker shock at the cost of online testing for all students
  • Too little technology capacity to support online testing
  • Insufficient teacher professional development
  • Widespread NCLB failure does not support move to more rigorous standards.

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