You are all setup to begin writing your blog post. Writing blog posts in WordPress should seem extremely similar to the word processing software that we use every day. Here is what you need to know:
- You’ll put the post together in the large white rectangle (where in the image below I wrote “Compost post here”). You’ll notice a bunch of icons just above the rectangle, like bold and italic buttons, which work exactly as they do with your word processing program.
- You can add images to your post with the “Add Media” button (number 1 in the image). Although you could add video with this method, you don’t want to do it.
- To link to another web page, select the associated text in your post and hit the Link button (looks like a chain link, number 2 in the image; note that button is grayed out in image because no text was selected).
- To add YouTube, Vimeo, or other videos, just add the video url directly to your post content. WordPress will automatically embed the video!
- To add a title to your post, type it in, in the textbox of that name (number 3 in the image).
- To make it easy for readers to find all posts on the blog on any particular topic, it is really important to add keywords to your post. There is more than one way to add keywords in WordPress and in this exercise, we’ll be using Tags. In the Tags box (number 4 in the image), write down a few keywords for your post.
- To see what your post would look like, if it were live, you can hit the Preview button (number 5 in the image).
- When you are done with your post hit the Publish button (number 6 in the image).
Now that you are familiar with composing a blog post in WordPress, try it! Using one of the message boxes that you developed last week, write an outreach-oriented blog post that involves some aspect of your research or your scientific field.
As you get started with this, we need to emphasize that you should have fun with this! You are passionate about your message and you want other to be as well.
Consequently, you don’t need to stress out over this exercise! As scientists, writing can often feel like a fraught affair for us. The hostile nature of the scientific review process very frequently reinforces the idea that any public writing must be pored over and perfect. Don’t worry about perfect here! Remember that anything you write here is going to be erased.
There are six key points for writing a good blog post.
- The more you connect your post to the concerns and interests of your audience, the more likely that they will actually read it. So, your post should be strongly centered around an issue or concern that your audience cares about right now. How do you know what your audience cares about right now? Check the Twitter list for your audience!
- Short is better than long. The shorter your post, the more likely that your audience will actually read it. If your audience sees a post with 3000 words of text, that is going to discourage quite a few from getting started. How long should this post be? 500 words is your absolute limit for this exercise. Try to write less – hopefully much less! What is the minimum that you can write that allows you to connect to your audience?
- The more visuals you include (images, video, and audio) in your post, the more likely it is that people will actually read it.
- A successful blog post only tackles one idea. Why? Your audience is likely to be reading your post with far less care than you wrote it. Consequently, the more major ideas you include in your post, the more likely that at least one of those ideas will be missed. What if you have a complicated multi-factorial argument that you want to write about? Each of those factors gets its own separate post. If you do happen to have a complex argument that you want to address for this exercise, pick one component of that argument to write about with perhaps a short message that more of the argument will be coming in future posts.
- Keep an eye out for jargon and double-meaning language. The latter, as a reminder, is language that means something different for an audience of your scientific peers than it does for the non-technical audience you are connecting to.
- The title for your post matters! Good titles are eye-catching and help people identify your message on search engines and if you share your story via social media.
For this exercise, please do the following:
- At the top of the blog post, state your intended audience in italics.
- Please don’t write more than 500 words (hopefully much less)!
- Include at least one link to another web page.
- Include at least one YouTube or Vimeo video.
- Include at least one image.
- Remember to fill in a few keywords in the Tags box.
- Don’t spend hours and hours writing your post! In fact you have a time limit: 2 hours. If you can write your post in much less time, so much the better.
- Optional: include a tweet in your post (like the following). Here are instructions.
— Phil Plait (@BadAstronomer) October 31, 2015
Once you are done publishing your blog post, read at least 3 other posts by your classmates. When reading, keep the following questions in mind:
- How effective was the post in communicating with the potential audience?
- Does the post contain any jargon or double-meaning language? Keep in mind that what is jargon and double-meaning language to one audience could be perfectly compelling to another audience.
For each of the posts that you read, please provide feedback through the comment box at the bottom of the post. So that everyone can get feedback, please focus your attention on posts that have received fewer comments.