Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Six Tips for Taking Off Your Academic Writing Loafers and Putting On Your Blogging Sandals

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Blogging isn't academic writing, and academic writing isn't blogging. That distinction is in the best interest of both of them. If you're used to the format and tone of academic writing, and have been asked (or assigned) to create a blog post, it's important to understand how blogging is different. From the mind of a former blogger and avid blog reader, here are a few tips to get you started.

Sum It Up in a Tweet (hypothetically)

Have a core idea of your subject and be able to sum it up succinctly (140 characters is a nice goal), and make it your title. It gives your readers reason to read, and it also helps them know what to take away and how to engage you. There’s a balance, of course. You want to be informative and engaging, without creating sensationalist clickbait.


Write How You Talk

It runs counter to what we’ve learned about academic writing, but it’s key to blogging. Feel free to use the first-person tense and allow yourself to be conversational. Using your own voice only becomes problematic when you’re talking about yourself in your own self-interest. Using your voice can be engaging when you’re making a bigger point through your own experience.

Hypertext as Citation

You don’t need to explain everything in your text. Bloggers often use links to other sources to create context, reinforce their assertions, or sometimes even call attention to a an exception or counterexample. Of course, be sure that you are accurately representing your sources, and don’t go overboard. If everything is special, nothing is.

Text Isn’t Your Only Tool

You can embed videos, images, social media, GIFs, slideshows, and many other types of content. Sometimes showing (or watching) is better than telling. The trick is finding a way to combine it all together in a way that creates clarity rather than clutter.


Create a Dialogue

Whether you’re creating the initial content or responding to existing content, be sure that you’re fostering dialogue and community. Invite inquiry with your assertions, and challenge those assertions through your comments. You never know, you just might spurn a global discussion.


Stay Engaged

Jorn Barger, the man who “invented” blogging created his first blog as a way to meet like-minded people and share links that interested him. In addition to putting content out there, be sure you’re being a content consumer as well. While there are a number of ways to do this, my method consists primarily of three tools:
  • Twitter to connect with people and organizations, and discover new resources through retweets.
  • RSS (Feedly is my tool of choice) to follow my favorite subscription content. Kind of like a daily newspaper. 
  • Diigo as a way of tagging and saving the most interesting content that I don’t want to forget.

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