There are some key steps you should follow for any writing assignment, but a blog article has a few more aspects to it.
I’ve read many a superintendent’s and principal’s blog, and while I applaud that they have one and are using it to try to reach parents and other members of the school community, so often they are written like a dry, business letter. Good blog writing is much different than most business writing.
For starters, your blog article – or any writing or communications assignment, for that matter – should have an introduction, body, and conclusion. Beginning, middle, end. Beyond that mantra, there are some keys to making your blog writing effective.
Your blog articles also need be topical, and believe me, there are lots of good and interesting topics that surround education in general and your school in particular. Your articles also need to clear, to the point, and worth shareable. Most important, blog writing takes a commitment on the part of your school's communications team– and sometimes some guidance – to feeding your blog machine.
If you want to get your blog articles read, and make them more than just informative, read on. The following steps are designed to help make your article easy to find, worth reading, clear and engaging.
1. Do your prewriting diligence
Every good writing assignment starts with pre-writing. You may have an idea in mind, or might just be kicking around some topics. Through research, brainstorming, mind mapping and free writing (not to be confused with your first draft) on the topic, you can start to zero in on the message you want to convey. TIP: be specific, don’t get too comprehensive or allow the topic to ‘creep’ away from the topic at hand.
2. Create a rough outline
This is where you begin organizing your material with at first a rough (or scratch) outline to list out the key points you want to cover. Once you have the big chunks spelled out, you can fill in with a more detailed outline.
Keep in mind the whole purpose of the article. Why are you writing the article? You have a goal in mind, so make sure you’re clear about it. To inform the reader about the reasons the school tax levy needs to pass, or tips on improving parent engagement, to give your own personal insights on bullying in schools – whatever the reason, have a clear purpose for writing the article. Give the reader a takeaway they can use, and include it at the top of your outline.
3. Nail your title/headline
Outline in hand, start working on a title. It may seem counter-intuitive to work on the title at this point rather than at the end, but in the world of Google search, it’s important you capture the gist of the article with a clear headline. Think of your own reading habits on the web and otherwise: if the headline doesn’t grab you, you’re not going to go any further. If you're not happy with your initial headline, don’t worry. It’s just a working title. You will come back to it after your article’s complete.
4. Get the readers attention
You’ve got a working title and outline. You’re now ready to jump in on the first draft. It’s important to connect with the reader quickly using an attention getter. Here is where you want to whet the appetite of the reader. Come up with a teaser that will draw the reader in; something that makes them want to read on. Any number of items can help get your foot in the door of the reader’s mind: an anecdote, quote, statistic, maybe some recent news item.
5. Support your main idea
You’ve got their attention, told them the purpose (or point) of the article; now it’s time to support your point. Support is simply anything that can reinforce your purpose. This is the bulk of the content for you article. Support in a blog article usually comes in the form of paragraphs using stories, statistics, testimony, etc. You can also use links to other websites and media like video and audio clips. Use paragraphs, bullets, numbered lists, and subheads to help the reader keep up. Always try to include some links to other articles or websites. They help add credibility.
6. Summarize so there's no mistaking
A summary signals the end of your article. Here’s where you can restate the purpose of the article, reinforce some or all of the support points you’ve made. So many blog articles leave you hanging (and so many people jump to the end of an article) so be sure to summarize your article to help underscore your purpose and main points.
7. Come up with a clincher
This is the icing on the cake. A clincher is kind of like the punchline to a joke, or that last scene in the great movie you just watched. One way to avoid that empty feeling is to include some sort of clincher at the very end of your article. Pose a question, use a cool quote that helps crystallize your point, invite a comment – make your reader ponder or want to learn more even.
There you have it. Seven steps to assure your school blog article does more than just sit there. Remember, a blog article isn’t a school memo. Avoid the business letter format. Do all you can to attract readers to your blog and keep them coming back by following these steps to creating an awesome school blog article. For additional help on writing your articles and a review of the different kinds of school blog articles, download our school blog article templates here.
Marketing director and content strategist for Campus Suite, Jay’s a former school public relations specialist who’s helped businesses, schools and colleges use the power of web communications to improve their image, generate support, and optimize relationships. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him @jay4schools.