by Jaclyn Y. Garver
Ivy Tech Community College Northeast
Fort Wayne, IN
Over my decade of professional life, I’ve written for something like … five blogs? Six? That doesn’t include the personal ones I’ve done, just for funsies.
The professional blogs have ranged in topic from pop culture to food to chronicling what it’s like being new in a city where no one is new (folks who live here never leave). The topics may be varied, but the blogs had something in common: They were focused, and they had a particular goal
For those thinking about starting a blog or those looking to revamp a current blog, these two ideas are important. Because a blog is posted on the Web, it’s easy to look to it as less important than something in print. It’s not hard to turn your blog into a dumping ground for stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else. Instead, consider your blog not as a last resort, but as a space that deserves as much time and planning as your campus magazine or prospect communications.
So what is your goal? Are you hoping to recruit new students? Attract donors? Be an expert for those on campus and in the community? Build confidence in your college? Solve students’ problems? Maybe it’s even more specific than that: A few years back, a local woman was a contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” and a coworker and I blogged about her time on the show for the newspaper where we worked.
None of these goals are right or any better than the other—and as broad as they may seem, they’re pretty specific. If your goal is to serve as a hub to answer students’ questions and help them navigate college life, you’re not going to post donor updates in your blog. If you want prospective students to learn more about your college, you’re not going to post about college problems.
By focusing in on what you hope to achieve with your blog, you’re making things clear for your audience. You’re also helping yourself as a writer; when your topic is focused and you keep your goal in mind, post topics will be easier to come by.
As you map out your blog goals, it’s not a bad idea to think about the end of your blog. That’s a topic that isn’t much discussed. Since blogs are free and can be updated instantaneously, folks don’t often think about the end game. But what happens when your goal is achieved? What happens when “America’s Next Top Model” ends, or the capital campaign you’re writing about for your donors ends? It’s OK to wrap things up. What happens during the summer between semesters, when campus is so empty, you get to park in the front spot every single day? It’s OK to take a break.
What sorts of things do you hope to achieve with your blog?
This is the second of a three-part series to help anyone who wants to start a blog for his or her college and doesn’t know where to begin. Next month, we’ll wrap up with how to promote your blog.
Jaclyn Y. Garver is the media relations and communications coordinator for the Northeast campus of Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne, Indiana.