As an interlude to my Friday Five series on why higher ed institutions should embrace blogging (Part 1 posted last Friday, Part 2 will show up this Friday), here’s a terrific post by Valeria Maltoni (Conversation Agent) on what makes a blog worthwhile.
It’s a great question, especially for those of us who are thinking about how blogs add value — or should add value — to the online experience our institutions try to create for our audiences.
Valeria shares several good ideas here about what makes a blog worth visiting and revisiting. But the key, to me, lies in Valeria’s suggestion that bloggers should consider the needs of their customers as a top priority.
I would broaden that a bit for the higher ed crowd and suggest that our audiences’ needs are pivotal. (Or if you prefer to think of customers as audiences, that’s fine by me.)
I try to keep the audience in mind here — although I admit that on occasion I will veer into realms beyond the stated mission of this blog. Maybe that’s a luxury a “personal” blog like this one can afford. But if you’re blogging primarily for your business or your college or university, you should probably retain more focus.
Some of my favorite higher ed blogs stick very closely to their areas of expertise, and that is both enjoyable and reliable. I can count on Dave Olsen to stay on topic with his Mobile In Higher Ed, and the .eduGuru gang is pretty consistent on sticking to web-based higher ed stuff. Likewise, Karine Joly keeps College Web Editor homed in on higher ed and the web, and Andy Shaindlin focuses on alumni relations topics on his Alumni Futures blog.
Yet some of my other favorite higher ed bloggers skip around a bit. Over at Inside Tim’s Head, Tim Nekritz will crank out a series on location-based social media services or share a social media inventory, then the next thing I know he’s writing about roller derby. I read the blogs of Chris Syme, Georgy Cohen and Ron Bronson for the same serendipitous experience. I never know what I’m going to get, exactly, but I know that it will likely be a good and enjoyable, thought-provoking read.
This was one of the points in my post from February 2011, In praise of open systems. As much as I love the reliability of bloggers who stay consistent in their focus, I also love the fact that the web is a place where I can find interesting topics on subjects beyond my realm of expertise.
Which ties in to another point Valeria makes in her post: “[T]he most interesting content is the topic you like.” I guess it goes back to that adage for wannabe novelists: Write what you know.
What makes a blog worthwhile? A combination of focus, dependability and serendipity. That’s my take. At the moment, anyway.
What do you think? What makes a blog worthwhile?
Photo credit: Andy Piper via Flickr