“I want to blog but I don’t know what I should write about.” This is a common problem for first time bloggers.
Writing in a journal everyday and then deciding to do an online blog (every day) is very different. The best blogs, in my opinion, are ones that chose an angle and a specific perspective or original topic on what to write about.
Please read below to find out the different angles and perspective and unique outlooks you could give to a blog. I also give some great examples of existing blogs that are very successful.
#1. Find a unique perspective or angle, but above all make it about something you love
Do you have an interesting backstory, do you have a unique perspective?: There could be a a hundred blogs about being a researcher in your field, but what about a researcher who got tenure before 30, or you’re a single parent of three kids, or you don’t teach and love not to teach, or you love to teach and centre your research perspective around what your students reactions are, or you are self-funded millionaire! Anything like that. The backstory could be the interesting angle, not to mention your opinion as that individual. Are you an editor, tell us what you hate about our manuscripts!? I think that last one would have to be an anonymous blog.
Are you interested in a wider aspect of your work?: Even for you, the researcher with a specific research project, choosing an angle can be a challenge. Take me for example, I’m a young scientist, in terms of my career, and even though my field is about microbiology, specifically free-living protists, I choose to blog about science online and communication, and my specific angle is being an academic online. This is a fun and interesting part of research life for me.
Blog about your research field, become the ‘go to’ specialist: You could choose to blog about the wider interests of your science career and life as I do, or you could be bold and focus just on your research field, what’s the latest research, in the end promoting the fascinating facts you use in your research every day.
Whatever you choose, make it about something you love, not something you think would be sensible idea, because in the end you won’t be bothered to write it and your writing will be tainted with boredom.
#2. Collaboration – a group effort!
You could get together with another researcher and blog about the field together, in this way you’ll get more blog entries AND you’ll both be inspired by one another.
The most common collaborative group spaces I’ve seen are ones from research groups, and departments could also add a blog page to their website. You could ask each of your blog group to contribute regularly. Perhaps for your teaching groups, ask them to write about their favourite topic within your research field. Hell, why not have a competition and get them all to write a winning 500-700 word blog piece!
#3. “I’m scared of being targeted by extremist groups and/or someone might steal my ideas“
Of course this is a scary problem for some researchers so perhaps you should keep some aspects of your research hidden and just blog about the tame stuff, no fluffy bunnies!!! As far as stealing ideas goes, don’t write about your ideas or give your preliminary unwritten results/theories. You can trust yourself to write a blog if you can trust that you won’t publish your unwritten work. Think about what you want to use the blog for, perhaps it can be a useful way for you to read up on areas in your field and write notes and views on it, but instead publish the notes as what you’ve learned.
#4. Great examples of academic blogging for inspiration
- Sole blogger, Amber Regis – humanities lecturer in the UK, she blogs about her field of expertise as well as other things. Her blog is a good example of self-promotion with publications she’s written and reviews as well as public speaking, it’s all there!
- Sole blogger, Michael Eisen – look to see what kind of thing is blogged about here and what additional information?
- Collaborative blog, ‘Parasite of the Day‘ is the name of Tommy Leung and Susan Perkins blog that’s been going strong since 2010. AS well as parasites they blog about going to meetings and other related topics.
- Research Groups: The Eisen Brothers, Jonathan and Michael (same Micheal as above) are both fantastic scientific bloggers at different institutions. They embrace social media and its uses for the academic and you could learn a lot from both of them, but then I’m a little biased because they’re scientists and in particular Jonathan looks at microbes and I’m a microbiologist. ANYWAY, look at their blog spaces, the information about the research groups and what they blog about, does the blogging end there? What other social media spaces are they linked to and how do they use them? Is the blog part of a department website or is it independent?
You never know what could come from blogging and getting yourself known to the thousands of others you never met at those meetings; you could be invited to give a TED talk, or become a part of a league of professional writers. Think BIG, write smart and embrace your audience!
Thanks for reading and keep tuned. I will be blogging about the logistics of blogging and where to blog; “Where do I publish my blog?” and “Blogging tips, from organising to writing” and “Twitter for academics – The talking business card“
As always, please message me if you would like me to discuss anything specific about blogging for the academic.