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05 Jan 2015
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21+ Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015

I have been struggling with a post that will set the stage for 2015 and serve as a worthy inaugural nugget for the new year… and I finally happed upon it. The inspiration came from a blend of Carl Hooker’s “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and a tweet from a dear friend, Brianna Hodges, sharing her new site, “Educationally Techtastic” hot off the blog press. I found myself disseminating a few tips and best practices for blogging through a series of texts and next thing you know it I had drafted a list of 21 Blogging Do’s for the 21st Century Blogger.

Before I release the list, I wanted to share Brianna’s insight and a link to her own blog beginnings that I hope will serve as support and inspiration for you to create (or amplify) your own blog in 2015:

“I absolutely love being an educator and, as a lifelong learner, I am continually searching for inspiration & exemplars to incorporate in my classroom. One of those searches led me to TechChef4U and, there, I found my touchstone, my source of energy & innovation. I truly believe that we are at a pivotal moment in education and, in her blog, I found the perfect combination of creativity & practicality, sprinkled with a hefty dose of foresight & imagination. Moreover, Lisa helped me see that I can have a voice and a place at the EdTech table. I believe that we owe it to our students and children to help form tomorrow’s learning environment &, to do that, we need to share our experiences, ideas, failures, & successes. With that, my blog, educationallyTECHTastic, was born.” – Brianna Hodges

So here we go… can I get a drumroll? Or should it be a drumstick (#foodpun) 😉

Miami Device PD Recap (used with Evernote) #TechChef4u #iPad #Evernote

Truly, these are not in any order and not all necessary to accomplish at once. I do hope that they provide you with a festive feast of fresh ideas to make the leap to a blog or spruce up your own blog in 2015:

1. Choose a Template that you can Customize and Grow with…

When choosing a template and a blogging service, consider what widgets and themes are offered and if you can truly grow with the site over the years. Though my site has changed designs over the years, I am and will forever be a WordPress girl… this time I just had to shell out a little cash for their paid templates.

2. Buy Your Own URL

This is an easy thing to do. Sites like GoDaddy and 1 and 1 offer this service. Trust me www.techchef4u.com plays a lot nicer on a business card than www.techchef4u.wordpress.com.

3. Plugin Your Feeds

If you are social geek like me, then you most likely already have a Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Add these feeds using a plugin to your site so people that visit your site know how and where to connect with you further.

4. Test Your Contact Page

I say this with a bit of frustration as my current contact page had to be taken down and recoded and in its place is a Google Form. Contact Pages are very integral for people to communicate with you for a variety of reasons ranging from permission to use your work to possible collaborations. Always test your contact page (and have others do so too) and if it doesn’t work, then add another means to initiate email contact. It never hurts to add social media contact info here as well. (Truthfully, I am fifteen times faster at answering a tweet or DM than I am an email.) I really like Holly Clark’s contact page because it includes a form as well as additional means of contact.

5. Tag All Posts with Your Name

This is something I have “stolen” and adopted from George Couros. Many times we tag posts with relevant terms like #iPad or #EdTech but we don’t even think to tag with our own name. Tagging with your name helps with Search Engine Optimization as well as brand recognition.

6. Infuse Pictures of Yourself

I have read many a blog with paragraphs of text. Truly there is nothing wrong with text but I find the sites that share relevant content blended with pictures of themselves and their students during these projects tend to resonate better and deepen the text for those of us that are visual learners. These posts also pin better. 😉

7. Watermark your Images

I truly wish this was something I had done from the beginning. I have found my images floating all around the internet and Pinterest completely uncited with no way to find their way back to me. Matt Gomez does an excellent job of using the Signature Watermark Ultra WP plugin to add a special watermark using his own logo to each of his images. I also stumbled upon this Listly of 15 additional tools to watermark your images. Not only does this help with his branding but it allows people to find him and his work through his images as they are pinned and tweeted. Kevin Honeycutt takes this idea one step further and adds a personal quote to many of his images… they are called Honeyquotes!

8. Include a Disclaimer Statement

This is really key. When I started my first blog, it was considered “rogue” as it was not a district regulated website. To ensure there were no issues with my postings and my job, I added a simple disclaimer statement, “The content on this website in no way represents the opinions or beliefs of … district”.

9. Connect Content you Curate and Create

Many bloggers curate and create additional and supplementary content for their blog on other sites. Cathy Yenca not only blogs… she has a booming Teachers Pay Teachers store, an iBook, and a variety of Nearpod lesson bundles which are all directly linked from her site. People don’t automatically know what else you curate and create unless you share it so don’t be afraid to add this content as badges or even a tab on your site. Laura Moore of Learn Moore Stuff also does a fantastic job of connecting you with her other resources as she includes links to her bulb, Padlet, Smores, and much more on the right hand side of her site.

10. Add Links to Presentations, Videos, Podcasts, and Webinars

As you begin to prepare presentations and deliver webinars or even create videos for your class or school, share them on a tab on your site so others can get to better know you, your content, and your flavor. In the interim of cleaning up my site, I have posted all of my videos and webinars in a Pinterest board for easy access. If you don’t have speaking videos or webinars, consider posting video content that you have created. Both Carl Hooker and Dean Shareski do a most excellent job of blending their recorded speaking engagements with their own content ranging from Carl’s app smashes and iPad Orientations to music videos and to Dean’s workshop promos and success stories to his archived presentations and YouTube creation! The Langwitches genius, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, includes her latest slide decks as a panel on her main site.

11. Creative Commons Your Work and/or Your Site

As you begin to blog and create content and resources, it will inevitably be tweeted, reposted, downloaded, and repurposed. Providing a Creative Commons Attribution license on your site allows your audience to know exactly what they can and can’t do with your work. One can provide a blanket statement for all content on the site or an individual statement for each piece of work. The Creative Commons site easily allows you to create these licenses and even populates a custom embed code for your site. Kasey Bell has an excellent example of the blanket statement at the bottom of her Shake Up Learning site and I have included a singular license for this list after #21. Beth Still provides and excellent write-up on how sites can be perceived when they do not properly attribute work within the Creative Commons framework.

12. Share Both Your Failures and Your Successes

It is easy to share and celebrate our successes but much harder to make public our failures or lessons learned. Everyone fails… let’s face it and embrace it. One of my favorite bloggers truly tackles the tough conversations – she is bold and honest and never sugar coats the truth and I simply adore her candid thoughts on life and education. Her most recent posts “From Midway Negativity to a Positive Ending” and “Facing Insecurities: You Are More Than Enough” frankly address the struggles and obstacles so many of us quietly face and endure.

13. Don’t Be Afraid of Lists

I often shy away from lists because my O/C gets the best of me and I feel the list must be comprehensive before posting. That being said, there is a real time and place for lists. For some reason, we are drawn to numbers and the potential to see if we measure up or can relate to the list and so the power of the list is maintained. I was inspired by Carl’s “Top 10 Things Not to Do in a 1:1 iPad Initiative” and “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and recently wrote “11 Useful Tips for Managing iPads in the Classroom“, “6 Do’s and Don’ts for Secondary iPad Deployment and Support of New Initiatives” and “9 Must Read iPad Instructional Support Resources“. And I have to say there is nothing better than an infographic from the amazing talented Sean Junkins to revive or amplify even the finest of lists. I love how he put a spin on both Carl’s and my lists (scroll to the bottom of both posts to see the infographic). Another creative take on lists is the idea of dividing one in to reasonable time frames for completion as Ashley Cronin did with her New Things to Try in 2015: Things to try in 5 Days, 5 Weeks, and 5 months.

14. Break Up Text with Interactivity

As I mentioned in #6, images help others to connect with you and your content. With the fire hose of information at our very finger tips, we have become a society of scanners and skimmers. I find that I tend to glean more information from a blog that has some sort of interactivity to support or extend the content. Sites that embed beautifully into a blog and offer this type of interactivity range from Tackk and Haiku Deck to Thinglink and Listly (all embedded in posts linked above). Not only do those tools jive up your content, they drive traffic to your blog as they are also hosted on additional sites.

15. Provide a Link to your Blog on all of your Social Networks

This goes hand in hand with #3 and #10. Most of the traffic to my site comes from Pinterest and I want to ensure that people not only come to my site from the pins I post and curate but know how to connect directly from my boards. Any social network you maintain (e.g. Linkedin, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Thinglink, Snapguide, Scoop.it) should include both your brief bio as well as a link to your site so people can connect with your content no matter how they initially discovered you.

16. Build In Twitter Quote Widgets Within Your Posts

This is a recent development for me. I discovered the Tweet This WordPress Plugin on my brother-in-law’s site and have been itching for a way to begin incorporating it into mine. Essentially, the plugin allows you to build the content of a tweet for someone so all they have to do is go to your site and click on it and tweet it. If you build it… they may tweet it 😉 If you are interested in seeing this type of plugin in action, check out one of Book Creator’s most recent posts.

17. Proudly Display Badges

The design of my site makes it difficult to host badges next to my posts. This is something I am looking to remedy in the future. While bragging and boasting are bogus… celebrating accomplishments is important. An easy way to do this is to post badges. Jamie Forshey, Erin Klein, and Gwyneth Jones do a fantastic job of highlighting their achievements and badges on their sites. Badges can range from awards and nominations to blogs that you cross post too. An added bonus of cross-posting or blog tailgating is that you offer your content to a wider audience. Technology Tailgate is one of my favorite sites for this process and offers a special badge you can embed if you author content within their feed.

18. Provide Consistency with Images for Brand Recognition

For me variety is the spice of life and I tire easily with the same color schemes and fonts. Unfortunately, my need for diversity sometimes leads to confused branding and attribution. That being said, two of my counterparts have really carved out their niche within this realm. Kasey Bell’s Google Resources, Gwyneth Jones Comic Tutorials, Mathy Cathy’s Math Thinglinks, Brad Ovenell-Carter’s Sketch Notes, and Ryan Read’s App Dice are all recognizable and each contribute to a cohesively branded collection (wow – was that a nod to Project Runway?).

19. Provide Consistency with Content

People like to know what to expect and how frequently it will be posted. Richard Byrne does an excellent job with his Free Tech for Teachers site as most of his posts have a consistent framework which includes a summary and educational applications for each highlighted tool. Terri Eichholz is a shining example of consistency with  frequency of postings as her site Engage Their Minds typically releases a new post every day. While I am not a daily poster, I do try to provide some consistency to the time of day my posts are released by auto-scheduling them to publish at either 9:30 or 10:00 am CST.

20. Build Your PLN by Answering Where?

As people start to really connect and relish your content, they like to know where you will be (e.g. upcoming conferences or speaking engagements) so they can connect in person and or even attend one of your sessions. You can add this information on a separate tab or at the footer of your posts. Many conferences offer an “I’m Speaking at…” badge that you can add to your site as well.

21. Start a Trend or a Tradition

After blogging for a few years, I found myself in search of a little whimsy. Thus, I decided to start an alliteration collection of posts ranging from Marvelous Monday and Thought Leadership Tuesday to Wicked Good Wednesday and Freebie Friday. I didn’t post one of these each day of the week but I did try to post enough of them that people knew what to expect. In the same realm as a tradition of weekly alliteration, Technology Tailgate offers a Techie Tuesday Link Up where you can feature someone else’s content on your own blog and build off of it and then link back your thoughts to the main site.  Another fun trend in education is #hashtags. Consider starting your own or building off of a hashtag that can connect your content with others. Carl Hooker used #student4aday to share his reflections.

22. Share Your Why

This is a nod to Simon Sinek and a post I wrote earlier in the year. I started this blog almost 4 years ago and have crafted 315 posts since then. The blog has evolved as I have so this year I wanted to carefully craft my WHY for the blog and the content I share to ensure that I stayed true to the path and meant the needs of my audience in doing so. As you embark in to 2015, consider establishing a WHY or a mission statement for your blog to guide you in the future.

ePortfolios are AWESome_ETT.001

Creative Commons License

“21 Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015” by Lisa Johnson @TechChef4u is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Bonus Blogging Tips

To be quite honest, I strived for 21 but ended up with a few extra so here goes: keep a notebook of ideas for posts, reduce the size of your images so your page loads faster, install a Pinterest widget so all of your images can be easily pinned, add a blog subscription so others can receive your latest scoop in their inbox rather than having to hunt it down, and make sure links within the post open in a new tab rather that redirecting your audience away from your post (this typically is a default for most WP blogs but that is not always the case for other blog hosting services). This list for me is a work in progress as there are a few I need to tweak in 2015 to amplify my own blog but thought there was no harm in sharing the ideas in advance of their completion.

Stop Being a Secret Genius…

As I am still on a bit of a professional development high from Miami Device and some of the epic quotables gleaned from that event, I thought I would leave you with a little inspiration from Kevin Honeycutt:

Add a little bit of body text-7

 

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THE LATEST TECHCHEF GAZETTE ISSUE? Preparing for Back to School and Beyond

TechChef Techucation Gazette: Sign up to receive future issues of the monthly e-Newsletter: There are many more learning app-ortunities and professional development toolkits to come. If you don’t want to miss a morsel of this techucation feast, sign up today.

Where Will TechChef Be Next?

Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com or request booking here.

 


28 Jul 2011
Comments: 0

Tabbloid: Create your own informational magazine

TechChef4U Thursday Menu

I came across Tabbloid a week or so ago and loved the ease of use and the ultimate product. I realize it was intended for people to assemble their favoriet RSS feeds into a personalized magazine (which could be printed or read off line). However, I wanted to use it to create clean easy-to-read handouts from a few of my blog entries and my iPad series.

This may sound critical and I really do love the tool and the end result… I just wish it had a few more features (perhaps in the next upgrade?).

  1. Obviously, only images will be included in the magazine (not videos or embedded tools). Thus, if you use videos or embedded Web 2.0 tools to dress up your blog, your Tabbloid will be simply the text. Not a huge deal but something to consider when publishing.
  2. Captions on photos from WordPress are published as a line of text. I found two number 19’s in my 22 Apps for Parents post. Again nothing against the tool, just something to consider if you are creating blogs to be tabbloidized.
  3. One cannot customize the title, Today’s Tabbloid, to something like the Techchef4u Monday Menu. Not a deal-breaker either.
  4. All hyperlinks and text formatting (bold, italics, underline) are lost in the magazine process.
  5. The tool will only pull the most recent RSS feed (post) from your site. Unfortunately, there is no way at this time to create a magazine of a particular series from the same blog with different links.
  6. Tabbloid will only generate your personal magazine from the original published entry (no updates will be reflected).
With that said, I still think this is a great tool to create quick, clean, easy-to-read, visually appealing, portable versions of your favorite RSS feeds (yes, it will compile one magazine with multiple pages from different feeds). While Tabbloid accomplishes all that it states it will, I just wish it had a few more bells and whistles for my own purposes.

14 Jun 2011
Comments: 0

12 Tips for Blogging Success

As I was listening to the Newsworthy Blogging podcast from the Social Geek Radio show on my way to work, I had the desire to take notes (should have launched Dragon Dictation). While the tips from Susan Young were intended for blogging for business purposes, the ideas themselves are truly for a universal audience and apply not only to blogging but education. Below I have compiled the 12 Tips for Blogging Success gleaned from Susan Young’s Social Geek Radio blogtalk and have added some anecdotal insight.

My Six Word Memoir

  1. Purpose – What is the purpose of your blog? This is about content. Find your niche and stick to it. People need to know what to expect. Also make sure you have enough knowledge, resources, and content to generate multiple posts on the topic. (I chose Techchef4u for a few reasons. I wanted to make sure it was general enough to encompass any instructional technology I discussed but clear enough to convey the message that I enjoyed creating technology integration resources for anyone and everyone that choose to dine on them. Much like the Joy Of Cooking. =)
  2. Frequency – How often should you write? Susan likened blog posts to a phone call. If you have something to say, call (post a blog). If you have a valuable message and don’t just post to post, this will build credibility. (I keep a notebook of ideas for blog entries and will prioritize them based on teacher and instructional need. I try to keep it timely… Blog on Demand, if you will.)
  3. Good Headlines – The headline and first few opening lines are crucial to keeping reader interest and letting them know what to expect. Look to magazines with snappy headlines and borrow and adjust accordingly. (Oftentimes, I will have a vision for the entry but will not compose the title till the body is complete.)
  4. Keywords: This gets in to a bit of search engine optimization. She mentioned using Google to determine the percentage of people searching for a phrase (the order and arrangement of the words counts) and that these engines like fresh content (no repeats or old info) and numbers in the headlines.(While I have written a 5 part iPad series, this was more due to the fact that I didn’t want to publish 5,000 word blogs. I don’t think I have truly capitalized on the top 10 lists but want to really try and focus on these bulleted lists to drive some of my posts).

    Questions to Ponder

  5. Word Count: This goes back to adding value. There is no set length for a post. It is more about presenting a clear message… whether it be in 3 sentences or 3 paragraphs. (I tend to have to reel myself in as I want to compile and assemble all available information and research on a topic. I will spend hours searching through other posts that mention or discuss a similar topic (e.g. Flipping the Classroom) and incorporate them as additional information in my post. I need to reconcile with myself that it is okay to have a simple post … not a research analysis of a topic.)
  6. Grammar: Blogs are not reports. They tend to be more conversational. Don’t ramble. Present a clear, concise message that carries your writing style. (I really enjoy this aspect of blogging. Being a Leo and Italian, I naturally like to talk and love this form of media to be conversational and yet still convey my message. So much better than a static handout or info sheet).
  7. Reader-friendly: Readers are bombarded by media. If they see a list of 100 tips or large bodies of text… most will not commit to read your blog. Make sure it is full of white space, easy on the eyes, and something that your reader can gleen the gist by scanning. (I will typically write all of the text first and then break it up into smaller sections to make reading and searching for information a more user-friendly experience)
  8. Photos: include relevant images and photos that connect to the written message, break up the text, and highlight some of your personality. My goal for each post is to try to highlight Web 2.0 tool(s) (Google Squared, Big Huge Labs, Flikr Poet, Quiki, etc..) using screenshots or embed code. My intent is to ensure that everyone leaves my blog with something they can use…whether it be an idea or a tool).Big Huge Labs Billboard
    1. (If I just need a cool photo, I will use Morgue File. 
    2. If I have photos that I would like to add some pizazz too, I use PhotoFunia.) 
  9. Videos: To reach all learners and communicators, incorporate a video or vodcast from time to time to highlight multiple modes of communication. It is also a great way to attract and build rapport with your readers as this will highlight your manners and personality. Consider transcribing it for those who would prefer a text version. (I love including videos but many of them are project-based in nature, like Sock Puppet Shakespeare or Signs of Math. I am looking forward to starting to sprinkle my blog entries with personal vodcasts. For now, these are still scripted. I am too much of a perfectionist to get these in one take.)
  10. Humor & Creativity: You have the podium. Are readers engaged enough to read on? Drop the jargon and be yourself. Weave in your personality and style. Ask open-ended questions to engage your reader and promote discussion. (I tend to like to play with words and be conversational so the media of blogging has been a great outlet for me to test new recipes and ideas.)
  11. Comments: Respond to and acknowledge comments. No one wants to be ignored. We want our message to be well-received. Just because you didn’t receive any comments, doesn’t mean that nobody read it. (Just because someone didn’t fill out a comment card doesn’t mean they didn’t enjoy their meal or experience. It was just a few weeks ago that I learned about “pingbacks” and started seeing other blogs hyperlink to mine as I had done to theirs. I am hoping I get the opportunity to have a more personal level of communication, but for now I am just enthused that people are visiting the kitchen and sampling the dishes… hoping I will soon receive a few comment cards.)
  12. Reposting & Repackaging: If you are going to repost a blog entry, it can’t be dated. Freshen it up a bit. Consider repackaging your top 10 blog entries or a series as an ebook or PDF document as a resource for teachers. (I will typically repost an entry if I have revised or added to it (e.g. added Bloom’s Taxonomy of Apps to Hot Apps for HOTS post). Yet I had never considered creating ebooks for various topics. I love the idea as well as the accessibility of repurposing it. Hoping to have a Joy of Cooking: the iPad edition released towards the end of summer.)

Here is my first vodcast. This was inspired by the idea of truisms & six word memoirs.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImqwNLPJXkE?rel=0&w=425&h=349]

I am very excited to have the opportunity to be a guest on Social Geek Radio Thursday June 23rd at 8pm. We will be discussing cool technology for kids (apps and Web 2.0 tools) that they can utilize on these hot summer days.

Check out Miguel Guhlin’s post for more blogging tips. (Thanks, Miguel, for the tips and the feature.)