Lessons Learned from Running a Blog for a Decade
I wrote a post today at my education policy blog celebrating 10 years of writing there.
That post got me thinking: What have I learned in 10 years of blogging about the same topic?
When I started the blog, I thought I would be filling in a gap — covering education news at a time when lots of media outlets were reshaping newsrooms and providing less issue specific coverage.
Having worked at the legislature, studied school funding in grad school, and written a book on education policy, I thought I could provide a service people would want.
Turns out, I was right.
And that’s the first lesson. Your writing (blogging) should add value. Sure, I write about topics I enjoy.
But I also aim to do so in a way that engages a target audience.
In my case, it is teachers and parents who want to know more about how politics influences education — how what happens in a state legislature filters into classrooms.
At first, the blog was, well, a blog. Words on a page. No ads, no email distribution.
I tracked views and eventually added an email feature.
About six months in, I added ads to generate at least some revenue. No, it’s not a lot (even today).
But, it’s something.
The larger point, though: People were reading and sharing my content.
This is hugely rewarding. Seeing an article get hundreds or even thousands of views or hearing your work cited in a key policy meeting — that’s motivation.
So, I kept going.
I thought I might have a project for a few months or a year, and it turns out, Tennessee Education Report has become a staple of the political/policy landscape in my state.
There will be haters.
Mean comments. People who suggest you go away. People who try to copy what you’re doing.
I write what I call “advocacy journalism.” Yes, I share facts and data. But I also have opinions and positions and I don’t hide them.
A surprising (to me) number of people who strongly disagree with my perspective follow me.
Sometimes, they’re not very nice. However, sometimes, I learn a lot when someone disagrees agreeably and forces me to reconsider my position.
Distilling this to simple messages for blogging:
- Add value
- Keep going
- Learn from the haters
What’s your blogging story?