For the past two weeks I have been running a workshop I am developing called “Blogging for People Who Should”.
The long-winded title begs the question “So who SHOULD blog?” This course is designed for anyone with an important story to tell: activists trying to change the world, filmmakers and authors with stirring stories to share, independent consultants whose work makes positive contributions to social change, anyone doing inspiring works that they want the world to know about.
Running for four consecutive weeks at the Centre for Social Innovation, the workshop introduces people who have important stories to tell to the concepts of social media by learning the original social media: blogging. We cover four main topics over the four sessions: creating a blogging plan, listening to conversations already happening on the web, writing effective blog posts and finally, promotion and evaluation of your blog.
I have planned to teach a course like this for quite some time, mainly because I think it’s important for the right people to have these basic skills. I meet smart people who are excellent communicators and have important things to share. These campaigners, writers, filmmakers, freelancers, and lawyers often don’t quite ‘get’ the basics of saying what they have to say online and making sure the right people hear it. I don’t think any of this is rocket science, but I think it helps to have someone shake up your thinking and show you how to make blog life easier.
“What qualifies you to teach this course?” you might ask. I certainly don’t want to fall into the trap of the know-it-all Social Media D-Bag who has lots to say but nothing to share.
I began writing blogs for Greenpeace International when blogging was still a relatively New Thing – 2003 to be exact. I have helped both coworkers, other activists and friends take their message online over the years since then, and wanted to make the basic skills more accessible (and less time-consuming for me to teach!)
I learn as much as the teacher as the participants in the class do. There is a lot of information to cover, and making it as interesting and as easy to absorb as possible has been the main source of learning for me. By focusing on a few main themes – the internet as conversation, blogs vs. websites, the importance of links and a few others – I hope to make the information more sticky.
I find that most people are a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in running an active blog: listening, responding, creating new content and tracking results seems like a huge amount of work for already-busy people. I have explained to them that there are many types of blogs that meet different goals and require different time commitments. This blog, for instance, gets updated twice a month at most, and meets my (modest) goals of a presenting my work to potential collaborators and clients.
I have really enjoyed the classes so far, and already have a February session planned. The course will keep evolving as I find new and better ways to present the material, and I am looking forward to that process. Some people have contacted me and asked to take the course online, as they aren’t based in Toronto. This wasn’t in my original plan, but I hope to explore that in the near future.