The Blogging Learning Curve

Hey, if you are reaching this first sentence you must want to learn more about blogging; or you’ve read my writing before and I just spark something you enjoy. It occurred to me this week, people may actually read my material because they absolutely hate the things I write about and/or the way that I write about those things.

Things I learned this month, (1) use a title that tells the readership what your blog is about. It may help to avoid hours of anguish. I often forget to remain in the present rather than being taken back to high school memories I would rather forget existed. (2) People will comment. The good, the bad and the down-right ugly. It can be difficult to send the inner voice out into this very public arena, only to have negative comments added in a relatively short space of time. Prepare oneself mentally and emotionally. A like is a like, and a red heart is love, so I am trying hard to ignore my own insecurities around an anonymous, minority who like to play bash-the-author.

It genuinely never occurred to me that anyone would read an article or blog because they didn’t like it/me. In my evidently rose tinted psyche, my readership is filled with like-minded individuals who click the like/love buttons and write comments that sound very much like “I agree wholeheartedly” and read “I love reading your blog”. I feel a little naive to the blogging world if I’m honest. I mean, back in the day, I wrote prolifically on MySpace about pink planets and metaphorically living like an alien on planet earth; very dramatic I hear you utter. I know. For whatever reason my blogging caught people’s attention and resonated with large sections of society. So why am I failing so significantly as I write about my research topics? That was a rhetorical question by the way.

Still with me? Then I’ll let you hear about my rather steep learning curve some more. This week I learned that (3) there are two (at least) types of blog; the factual, analytical, serious blog and the inflammatory, opinion filled, shock-factor blog. Apparently, never should the two meet. I did not know this. Blogging now has categories of blogging. Yep, I was a little confused too. I had thought that all blogging was opinion (of the author/s) and that any facts or statistics found within would need verification. Grammarly has a light and fluffy article to assist newbie bloggers – everything from how to choose an interesting topic to how to make an impact with your opening paragraph (Hey there is probably weak in the world of Grammarly. OOoops). I didn’t find Grammarly when I started to look into the best way to write a blog, I came across 201digital who told me “The problem with opinions is that sometimes, they can be rude, exclude certain groups, be offensive or just mildly annoying (think UK pro-toll Katie Hopkins)” Eeek!! I really shouldn’t have looked into the technicalities of good blogging on a day when I had deleted almost everything I’d written up to that point; to throw Katie Hopkins into the mix….my blogging days were numbered. I learned (4) don’t post everything on the day that you write it because you may feel differently another day, and editing may help improve your blog, as well as keep the negative comments to a minimum.

I’ve yet to work out if my blogging leans towards the factual and informative style or if I am brave enough to lean towards opinion and debate style of blogging. I do think I am well and truly on the fence with it all. I have to say that one lesson I have securely learned (5) opinion can generate the inflammatory and so I must be ready for the response to whatever it is I may have written that day. I do not feel anything I write is rude (201digital) but I know the questions I ask and the way that I ask them seem to bring up the heckles on my reader’s neck. My questions have never been simple, straight forward or surface level. Like ever. In high school I learned really fast to quietly observe and use the power of deduction to work out the answers. Now I live and work in a purely academic world and so questioning is a given. In that world almost any question you ask is allowed because we are teaching and researching. However, out there, in the real world where society is not predicated on asking philosophical questions – I stand out, lets leave it at that. I’ve learned (6) take notice of the online environment you are posting and sharing your blog because the same question can be framed in a way that suits the group you are part of, or the social media you are engaging with. Academically worded questions, in the groups I am part of, simply generated mistrust and suspicion. I really could have worded them differently. Live and learn!

(7) Do not generalize or state opinion as fact which seems quite obvious when I write it here, but for me this is reliant on not posting the same day as writing. Its clearly a bad habit of mine, and actually something that can really help me when it comes to writing up my thesis. It is relatively easy to remove a couple of words to slightly alter the sentence. For example, “the home education community do not feel they are treated fairly by inexperienced school authorities which leads to suspicion and mistrust” – wait! keep reading, don’t comment yet…this sentence sounds like the author is speaking on behalf of the home education community, or at least that the author assumes (i) that they want to become aligned with state schooling and, (ii) everyone who home educates mistrusts authority. The simple editing of that sentence can reduce the inflammatory reaction to it: “the home education community may not feel they are treated fairly by authorities which leads to poor working relationshipsA small, yet significant change in the choice of wording, and the heat has been removed from the sentence. It no longer reads as though the author is speaking on behalf of the entire home education community.

I have returned to the world of blogging because I can see the benefits to research and the research community. Government’s bring bloggers into policy and news agencies refer to bloggers almost daily to comment on headlines and current affairs. I do see the benefit of blogging. Adding my name and my research to the blogging world, now that hasn’t been such a great experience. Yet. I persevere because I have something to share and I believe that something is important for the world to hear. Education is my world (after my 4 kids obviously) and adding caveats all the way through a piece of writing in case I upset commentators really doesn’t come naturally.

I live and learn. I write and learn. I believe in our motto every experience is a learning experience.

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