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Kick Start Activity 8 – Beginner – Building readership and blogrolls

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No matter the real reason that you started blogging, every blogger wants readers!

And there really isn’t one secret to success, but hopefully our last activity of the Kick Start Your Blogging series will help get you well on your way.

In this eighth and last activity you will:

  1. Be introduced to blogrolls and why they are important
  2. Learn how to set up your blogroll on your own blog
  3. Discover the different tools you can use to build readership
  4. Learn about how twitter might be your new best friend
  5. Visit the Discussion Question for Activity 8
  6. Complete the extension activity (if you have time)

Step 1: All About Blogrolls

Though they may sound like something that might have just come out of the oven, a ‘blogroll’ is a fancy name for a list of links that are found in a sidebar of a blog.

We have one on the right sidebar of this challenge blog called “Get Help”.

Bloggers commonly use blogrolls to list their favourite blogs.  Blogrolls help readers locate other blogs worth reading — you are saying “these are some blogs I like – which are worth checking out!”

Building a quality blogroll is a good first step in building readership in that it can help grow a community feeling that is often achieved by the best and most influential bloggers.

Step 2: Setting Up Your Blogroll

Every newly created Edublog has the same default widgets in its sidebars — including a blogroll.

You add links to your blogroll as follows:

1.  Go to Links > Add New

Links > Add New page

2.  Add the name of the blog to the Name Module

Adding name to Name Module

3.  Add the blog URL to the Web Address Module

Add blog URL to web address module

4.  Select Blogroll in the Categories Module and click Add Link

Creating a link in a blogroll

How To Use Link Categories To Organize Links and Blogs

You can sort students from different classes or links into separate categories as follows:

1.  Click on Add A New Category in the Categories Module

Click on Add new category

2.  Add the category name then click Add

Creating a new link Category

3.  Now instead of selecting blogroll you just choose the correct category for the link and click Add Link

Adding student blogs to link categories

Check out Huzzah to see how categories can be used to sort links in blogrolls:

  • Student blogs are listed using the catgeory Class Blogs
  • Class blogs they read are listed using the category Our Blogroll

How To Edit Links

After adding links, you may want to edit them or delete the default links included on the blogroll of newly created Edublog.

1.  Go to Links > Edit

Links > Edit page

2.   To delete a link, hover over the link name and click the Delete option that appears below it.

Deleting a link

3.  To delete multiple links, select several links and then choose Delete from the drop down Bulk Action menu, and click Apply.

Deleting mutliple links

4.  To edit a link, hover over the link name and click the Edit option that appears below it.

Editing a link

5.  An edit screen will open — just edit the link details and then click Update Link

Adding your Blogroll to Your Blog Sidebar

The Links Widget  is used to display the links you added to your blogroll in your sidebar.

Every newly created Edublog has the same default widgets in its sidebars — including a blogroll.  However,  when you add any widget to a newly created blog (via Appearance > Widgets) it automatically removes the default Edublogs widgets.

You add your blogroll back into the sidebar as follows:

1.  Go to Appearance > Widgets in your Dashboard

Appearance > Widget page

2.  Click on the desired Sidebar to expand (so you can add the widgets)

3.  Drag the Links Widget from the Available Widgets area into the Sidebar area on the right

Adding Links widget to sidebar

Please leave a comment on this post if you need help setting up your blogroll! We’re always here to help!

Step 3: Building Readership

There are three key words to keep in mind when working to build readership:

1. Consistency

2. Time

3. Social Networking

First, in order for readers to visit your blog, you must consistently write quality and interesting posts. You don’t need to always come out with a brand new idea, or be particularly unique in what you have to say – and if you find it interesting enough to write about, chances are there are others out there that will find it interesting enough to read.

Two of the most read education related blogs, http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/ and http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ can both have as many as 5 or more posts every single day!

While this isn’t necessary to gain readers, it certainly has been part of the recipe of success of these two guys.

With that, both of these blogs have been in action for quite some time now. And when you are just starting out, it may take a few months to a year of regular posting before your readership really grows.

Social networking tools such as facebook and twitter are the absolute best ways of getting the word out about your blog.

You should consider sharing your posts in Facebook so that all of your friends and followers get notified of new posts.

You should also make sure that you set up the RSS subscription and email subscription widgets discussed in challenge seven.

  1. Subscribe by RSS  - Here’s the instructions for how you set it up.
  2. Subscribe by Email  - Here’s the instructions for how you set it up.

Step 4: Twitter 101

A true introduction to twitter is a whole different post. In fact, it is this post here.

But if you don’t already have a twitter account, then there is no better time then now to get one!

  1. Go to twitter.com
  2. Click on the yellow ‘Sign-up’ button on the right, and off you go!

To get your feet wet, “follow” a handful of people. If you don’t know anyone yet on twitter, maybe the four organizers of this challenge are a good place to start:

@suewaters, @tasteach, @murcha, and @ronnieburt

To see how bloggers use twitter to share their new posts and more, you might also start with:

@Larryferlazzo, @rmbyrne, and @edublogs

You can easily follow these by signing into twitter, clicking on the links above, and clicking on the “Follow” button on the page.

Challenge yourself to follow a few twitterers and see what it is all about. And before diving in too far, do check out the post mentioned above:

A Twitteraholic’s Guide to tweets, hashtags, and all things Twitter

Step 5: Visit the Discussion Question for Activity 8

Visit the Discussion question for activity eight and leave your feedback.

If you have any problems with the antispam word then come back and leave your feedback on this post.

Step 6:  Complete the extension activity (if you have time)

Visit the Advanced Activity 8 post and scroll down to the comment section.

Find 5 posts that other bloggers have written in the comment section about building readership and social networking.

Read these posts and leave a comment about your thoughts or sharing what you learned.

53 comments for “Kick Start Activity 8 – Beginner – Building readership and blogrolls

  1. Courtney Takabayashi
    March 28, 2013 at 8:56 am

    What a great activity! I finally added a blogroll to my blog. (^__^) I’m now motivated to find new and exciting blogs to share with my readers! In fact, I just visited Larry Ferlazzo’s page (http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/) and was so impressed by his content!

    And then I signed into Twitter for the first time in awhile and started following @suewaters. I wanted to follow everyone recommended above, but I didn’t want to come off as a creep or a spambot. :)

    There are so many blogs I plan on visiting and I owe it all to the Personal Blog Challenge!

    Cheers!
    Courtney

    http://www.courtneytakabayashi.com

  2. James Sandberg
    February 24, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I really like blogrolls and I’m planning on putting one onto my website shortly… it’s a nice way of having links to your blogging buddies online and also a nice way of getting links back to your site as well :)

  3. miabryte
    November 20, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    Im having trouble with finding the notes link on facebook?

    • December 14, 2012 at 2:08 am

      Hi miabryte, sorry for the delay. I have been busy with the Edublog Awards. Thanks for making us aware of the issue with Facebook. I’ve removed this section from our post because Facebook and Twitter regularly change how you are able to connect which does make it harder. The best option is to activate the AddThis Social Share plugin and use the Facebook share link or add your posts manually to Facebook.

  4. Bilson Miles
    August 4, 2012 at 6:07 am

    Thank you for sharing this great article. A very well-detailed images.

  5. February 9, 2011 at 5:35 am

    Wait! What?! The last challenge? Oh no! OK in seriousness I have really enjoyed this challenge and will continue to follow the blogs I was introduced to in the challenge. I have a new and growing group of subscribers and visitors to my blog.
    When I first started blogging I felt that having a blog roll was important and I worked hard to create my blog roll. These were blogs that I followed and enjoyed. As time went on however I noticed that these bloggers no longer updated or I didn’t follow there content. Again, this is a breathing animal and will need updating. Also this should be meant to link to other blogs in your genre in order to create a network. This should not be blogs you necessarily follow. This reminds me that I need to update =) Blogger has a cool widget that does this for me. I just fill in the blanks. Consistency and Time, are the 2 most important parts of blogging. Consistency to posting quality posts I agree is essential to being a quality blogger. My 2 examples are free technology for teachers and mets blog. FT4T posts at least once a day with a quality well linked post. These posts are a wealth of knowledge however I just don’t have that type of time on hand. MetsBlog is more my speed, again quality posts however they are short and to the point. Some are links to other content and some are just quick thoughts or pieces on information. I am in the middle. However I don’t have the time. It will take me approximately 3 hours to create this post. I can not always devote this much time to writing. I jot things down a minuet here and a minuet there to create what you see before you. Blogger is great because I can save my posts as an email draft then when I am home email into blogger. This helps with time saving and because blogger works so well it helps me be more consistent with posting. When it comes to social networking this challenge has pushed me to actually do just that. Before I would post, check analytics once in a while and see who linked to me and that was that. I have learned that you need to devote time to comment on other blogs and actively promote yourself. It can be all post. I use Twitter to post info and pictures. Twitpic drives an amazing amount of traffic to that site. I don’t have the time to devote to Twitter with this blog and to be truthful was not something I wanted to use for this blog. I do talk about posting tools when I teach social networking for small business a useful tool if that is something you would like to use.

  6. Dorene Bates
    February 9, 2011 at 3:17 am

    This has been a great challenge. I have learned a lot. I posted a blog on networking tools (from the advanced side of the challenge). I could only come up with 4 that I use on a regular basis. I have Facebook and Linkedin, but Facebook is blocked at work, so I only get on it in the evening (and not very long at that), and rarely get on Linkedin. Here is my blog: http://teacherchallenge.edublogs.org/2011/01/13/kick-start-activity-2-%E2%80%93-beginner-%E2%80%93-effective-and-engaging-blog-posts/. Again, thanks for the challenge. It was great.

  7. lhowlin
    February 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Thank you Sue. Thank you fellow bloggers. I began this Challenge with very little knowledge. I had been following several bloggers, a friend and a fellow Teacher Librarian for some time but had very little idea what I was getting into 30+ days ago.
    It has been a great adventure. I have learnt so much and have become inspired by so many. I feel motivated to keep my blog going and can see the importance of having my students involved. My readership may not expand quickly but it will expand and I will continue blogging, following and growing in confidence and knowledge.
    Creative commons, photopeach, slideshow, wallwisher, gloster, wordle are just a few of the words which a month ago I had never heard, and now I’m using (some with my students) and loving it.
    Visit my beginning blog at http://cosycorner.edublogs.org and watch it grow in the weeks and months to come.

  8. February 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I sadly post my final post for the Teacher Challenge, but I am excited about what I have learned and the people I have met through this Challenge. Thank you Sue for a wonderful challenge! I set up my blogroll and joined Twitter (@cimeronejana). Here is my reflection piece about the challenge: End of a Challenge…Beginning of a Blog

  9. lhowlin
    February 7, 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Thank you Sue. There has been so much information in this Challenge, I think this is just one bit (of many) I have overlooked.
    I have really enjoyed this Challenge. For someone who had never written a blog before I am delighted at what I have achieved with the wonderful guidence you have given. I feel very motivated to continue and think I will be referring back to the information given as I become more confident.
    Thank you again

  10. lhowlin
    February 6, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Not sure where to ask this question so I’ll try here.
    I wish to insert the words Teacher Challenge into my post about promoting readership. I wish these words to be inserted as a link. How do I do that? Thank you.

  11. February 5, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    If it rains all the time like today i will do lots of blog posts:) I have spent a couple of hours now back tracking over the last challenge, adding more widgets, writing posts, posting to twitter (have been there for a long time) and now will perhaps reconsider my position on facebook – maybe not. I use facebook for outside of ed stuff…there has to be somewhere that is school free…and my family don’t need to see my posts re education on FB and most of them will be about education. Therefore I don’t think i will do the auto post to FB. I will do it manually when it matters. Anyway – to check my progress you can take a peek by going to the blog
    http://nenifoofer.edublogs.org/ See you on twitter @nenifoofer I am off to tidy up my blogroll:)

  12. February 5, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I am reading all your comments about learning the value of Twitter. I recently starting using Twitter and its has become my 2nd PLN. Through Twitter I found out about:
    – this challenge
    –excellent tech webinars, videos, tools, and other leading educational tweeters
    –excellent sites to use w/students
    –connected with teachers who are integrating tech in curriculum
    –a place where I can get quick answers to ed tech questions
    –articles on teaching and learning
    –you can choose to connect w/educators who are teaching in your exact field- that was the great plus.
    –tons and tons of resource that have impacted my teaching
    in such positive ways.
    –Then you find out that other Tweeters value your thoughts, ideas, resources, your blog, etc and want to follow you. What an honor!

  13. February 4, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Feeling all at sea with Twitter at the moment. Have never explored it before so it is all new and bewildering. I know that I just need to persevere and keep reading all the great help posts linked to here. I think the schedule posts button will come in handy to be able to space out posts and keep my blog fresher.

  14. February 4, 2011 at 1:50 am

    Is there still activity 9 and 10? They aren’t showing up on the left side and I am worried. What are the future challenges?

    • February 5, 2011 at 3:53 pm

      I am hoping that @suewaters or @tasteach or @ronnieburt will answer this, but I think this is the last challenge. The last 4 challenges were merged into two, so that the challenge would finish within the 30 days as first publicized. Have you enjoyed the challenge?

      • February 5, 2011 at 4:00 pm

        Hi Anne,
        Yes as far as I know, this was the last challenge. I think there might end up being a post as a reflection but leaving that to Sue and Ronnie as instigators of the challenge. I am getting the student blogging challenge ready.

        • February 6, 2011 at 11:32 pm

          Hi Sue and Anne, did we leave the reflection post with Ronnie?

      • February 6, 2011 at 6:37 am

        Thank you so much to all of you at Edublogs…this was a great challenge and I have learned a lot! Also, I have now started following many of our fellow challengers which I think is the best part of Blogging!

  15. February 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Hi, well it is really food for thoughts. I don’t get it how you can post 5 times a day. I don’t have that time, with everything else that is going on in life I’ll be happy if have the time to post a few times a week.
    I created a twitter-profile almost a year ago, but didn’t really get in to using it. I will have another try now and I hope that it worked with the feed thing, so that my blog posts show up on twitter and facebook. Well, my name on twitter is anna_bring if anyone is curious! I guess I have to add it to my blog as well.

  16. February 3, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Hi, tried to add my feed to my facebook-account but I couldn’t make use of the link you provided on how to – it could be outdated. I followed the instructions given here instead and I hope that it will work.

  17. February 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    I never felt I had the need for a twitter account until 5 minutes ago. I have just signed up and added some of the names to follow that were suggested in this post. I also activated the twitter plugin and added the widget to my sidebar – I guessed that is what I had to do. So I’ll see how it goes. Once again delving into unknown territory and it feels great!

    • February 3, 2011 at 11:32 pm

      Hi, tried to find you on Twitter but there are to many Vanessas out there. What did you call yourself?

      • February 4, 2011 at 11:42 pm

        Thanks Anna, I had difficulty finding a unique username, so had to use my initials
        vijenkins. I have yet to complete my profile, but am hoping to get to it over the weekend.

    • February 4, 2011 at 9:08 am

      Vanessa,
      I just accepted you as a follower in Twitter, but you might find it easier if you have something written in your profile. Some Twitter people want to know who it is that is following them and then to decide if they will follow them back as well.

      • February 4, 2011 at 11:33 pm

        Thanks Sue. I am planning to get to that over the weekend. First week back at school, and as usual, hit the ground running. I’m not sure what I’ll twitter about, I guess the more I follow others I’ll get the hang of it.

    • mrsdkrebs
      February 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

      I’m following you now, Vanessa! (On Twitter) :)
      Denise
      Dare to Care
      On Twitter: @mrsdkrebs

    • learningspy
      July 15, 2011 at 6:47 am

      Yes – me too. I am a week into my Twitter experiment and am buzzing with ideas as a result. Twitter + blog = great professional development

  18. February 3, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Thanks for this activity Ronnie. I might have to reactivate my facebook account after reading this!

    For those who have a Blogger account and need help with setting up the “Blogs I Follow” widget, I’m happy to help.

    Regarding post frequency, I have to say that I go for quality over quantity. With the prolific bloggers who churn out 5+ posts a day, I might read one post and the rest just crowd my google reader. All I can say is thank God for RSS and google reader, otherwise my inbox would be a nightmare.

    Allie Brosch, one of the world’s most popular bloggers, might only publish one post every 3-4 weeks on her blog Hyperbole and a Half (not an education blog, just a really good place for busy minds to chill out). She has over 43,000 followers, including me, who eagerly anticipate her posts, and read them hungrily as soon as our feed readers notify us of a new one. Her posts get at least 200 comments in the first hour after publication.

    I think less is definitely more; 2-3 posts a week being optimum to balance supply/demand. Feel free to disagree.

    • February 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Amy, thanks for your interesting comments. When I looked at those who had won awards for the “Best Teacher Blog”, I noticed that some of them did not post regularly either.
      Thanks for sharing the blog of Allie Brosch. I think it is essential that teachers read blogs other than those of eduationalists to ensure they expand their horizons, understandings and learn new applications.

      • learningspy
        July 15, 2011 at 6:45 am

        Absolutely – otherwise no cross-fertilization & creativity

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