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VI. Academic Blogging: Developing a Vision for Your Blog

Oct 24, 2013 by Lee Skallerup Bessette

In the last two posts, you learned some of the reasons why you, as an academic, should blog. Blogging offers many different kinds of benefits, but these can only get you interested in blogging. In order to create and, more importantly, sustain your academic blog, you need a clear vision and purpose for your online writing space.

The most important question, and one that you can only answer for yourself, is: Why do YOU want to blog? What is your mission, your purpose, your blog’s “raison d’être”? If you can’t answer this question, you will struggle to find the time and the content for your blog.

Many academics bloggers (and, in reality, many bloggers in general) have a hard time sustaining their blogs, struggling to come up with content, and generally ending up leaving the space abandoned and sparsely populated with posts. Of course, life happens and sometimes the blog can no longer be a priority, but more often than not, it’s because people start a blog without really knowing or understanding why they are blogging to begin with.

For me, my blog is about giving a voice to non-tenure-track faculty, about our struggles and our triumphs. Not every single post is explicitly about this, but implicitly, my perspective as a non-tenure-track faculty is the one I bring to all of the subjects I write about. I had started a number of other blogs on different topics, but I found it hard to keep coming up with topics or finding the motivation to write. It was only when I asked myself what I really wanted to write about, and was brave enough to start doing it, that blogging became an important part of my routine and my identity as an academic.

There are as many reasons to start a blog as there are bloggers. Consider these questions as you try to come up with a vision for your blog:

  • What kind of blog would you like to read?
  • What is missing out there in the blogging world? Can you provide it? Maybe it is just as “simple” as your particular voice or perspective.
  • What makes you unique? Where you live? Who you are? Who you teach? What you study? What can you offer that no one else can?

Bear in mind that while you are looking to build an audience, you are blogging for yourself. Blogging should be about pleasing yourself, not a chore that you need to get done (although there are some days that it will seem that way). Blogging should be a pleasurable and, dare I say it, liberating experience for you and your writing. If it isn’t, then maybe a blog isn’t the right thing for you to be working on.

In the next post, you'll learn some of the wrong reasons to start your own academic blog.
 

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