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BE A GOOD BLOGGER. Blogging is a genre and so it has certain conventions. On the other hand, while we’re full of tips, we’re also both fans of experimentation. Here are some suggestions on how to get started with blogging, but these are only a jumping off point, from which you should carve your own path:
- Make it as easy as possible to post to your blog. Many blogging sites allow you to email your content and add an image as an attachment. Or there are sharing widgets you can add to your desktop or smartphone so you can add content at the click of a button. This means you don’t have to login anywhere to write full blog posts. It also means you can recycle content. For example the usual email announcement about your upcoming talk can be speedily repurposed into a blog post.
Help readers share your content. Most people can copy and paste a link from your blog post to their Facebook wall, but if you’ve added some sharing buttons (which can be done in seconds using a WordPress plugin) then you make it even easier. Likewise, consider setting up a ‘recipe’ tool like IFTTT so that when you upload a blog post you automatically post it to your own Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.
If it’s too big a commitment to blog alone, set up a group blog with some friends/colleagues. This can be an even better idea than blogging alone because you’ll bring more readers to your site with the increase in volume and variety of content. It’ll keep the blog fresh and full of interest and take the pressure off each of you to be highly productive.
Schedule staggered content. If you’ve got four big things planned in a month, write four posts and schedule them weekly. This will stop you ever having to even think about apologising for not posting. Likewise, if you’re suddenly feeling prolific, by all means write a whole bunch of posts, but spread out their publication. You might also bank a few posts in advance for quiet times.
Plan ahead. Aim to feed your blog with varied content by keeping an eye out – in advance – for what that content is going to be and by taking advantage of every opportunity. For example, if you know you’re going to a conference, why not arrange to interview someone or report on a particular paper or session?
Comment. Take time to read other people’s blogs and add your own comments to their posts. This will help you get a better idea of what other people are blogging about (and how) as well as directing them and their audience back to your own blog.
Have a piece of stock content as your fall-back. It could even be light-hearted. Why not post a relevant video every Friday, or ask another academic the same set of questions every Wednesday? The goal is consistency, and what might otherwise feel like “filler” can actually help create bridges from one substantive post to the next. And sometimes its the stock content that draws in the bigger crowd, meaning more people will eventually discover the meat of your research.
Other bits of regular content can include: book reviews; summaries for newcomers to the field; posts about your latest paper presentation, guest lecture, or journal article; profiles of your students and their work; and championing of contingent colleagues that might not otherwise have time to write about their own work.
Recycle and reshare. As your blog grows popular pieces of content will become less visible. Periodically review your content and re-share (through Facebook and Twitter et al) good posts over a period of time. You might consider writing a new post that updates or expands on the older one (but definitely visibly links to it). Also, when reviewing your past content, notice which posts are thematically connected and take a second to add links back and forth between each post. Again this will make burried material more findable to new visitors.
Look at your stats. Google Analytics will tell you how many people are visiting your website/blog and from where. Initially this might just be a nice ego boost and a way of forcing yourself to continue blogging when you feel stressed and over-stretched but eventually this is the type of data that can be used on grant applications and even CVs.
SET UP A BLOG. Having a blog or a website as a platform for your career is a really good idea. So often these days people will just plug your name into Google and work with whatever results come up. Having your own site allows you to have more control in how you’re perceived. It’s great for job-hunting as it can be your online dossier and you can also use your blog when you teach to communicate with students and share course materials. With a blog as part of your site, you can regularly broadcast what you’re doing, including posting abstracts for conferences and papers or sharing notes for lectures you’re giving. It’s also a really good way to reflectively share the work of your peers and work out ideas for forthcoming publications.
GET A TWITTER ACCOUNT. And while you’re at it, sign up for every social media platform, even if you don’t intend to use them. Here’s why: you’ll secure your user name of choice (good for branding purposes to keep these consistent); you’ll have a history with the tool when you do go to use it (which helps your profile show up in search results); and you’ll start making connections, even if you aren’t actively massaging those connections. Remember that not everyone is on any single social media channel, so having a presence on them all will assure that no potential collaborators fall through the cracks. As with the bulk of the tips in this series, this is actually less about promotion and more about presence — making sure that you’re only one mouse click away from a potential editor, colleague, or co-author.
But why the Twitter account in particular? Twitter is actually one of the lowest-maintenance platforms you can engage with. Just write your mini profile, upload a picture and off you go. The best way to engage is to log on at certain times (or leave Twitter open while you work) and just dip in to read tweets and chat with others when you have time. You may never keep up if you try to read all the tweets so it’s best to think of it as listening in on a live conversation. In fact liveness is key to Twitter, many people think of it as a place you send boring life updates, but it’s much more of a discussion space – like an Instant Messenger but where (potentially) the whole world is listening.
Twitter also boasts a number of live chats that provide space to discuss a range of academic conundrums, which will also help you build an almost-instant network of supportive peers. Check out #phdchat for all things PhD, #digped for discussions on teaching in the digital age, #acwri for academic writing, #ecrchat for issues pertinent to early career researchers and #scholarsunday for recommendations on who to follow. Finally, if you teach, consider finding ways to incorporate twitter into your pedagogy.
‘Networking’ is a word often made cold by its business associations. It’s easy to imagine CEOs on a golf course and think that’s a million miles away from what we do as educators and scholars. Perhaps a better way to think of networking — particularly in academia — is as yet another form of publishing. For example, each time we share information about our work we’re performing a valuable citation. In the same way that direct marketing takes an idea straight to the right audience, this form of citation is fast and efficient. And it goes both ways. Each time we find out details about someone else’s work we’re potentially saving ourselves hours of research time. And each time we boost that person’s work by sharing it on social media, we’re potentially saving someone else hours of research time. This info-thrift can be very potent and it’s why coffee breaks at conferences are often where the real work happens. So whilst there’s no need to take up golf… We are here beginning a new set of tips in our How to Be a Hackademic series focused specifically on academic networking. So, our first bit of advice:
GO PUBLIC BY DEGREES. The decision to go public on social media with our professional life is actually a very nuanced one. And it’s not a decision anyone should make all at once. We strongly encourage going public by degrees. Start with a professional site that houses a CV, links to syllabi, online publications, etc. Academia.edu is a great place to start or perhaps set up an about.me page. You might then decide to explore a platform like Twitter where you can dip your toe in by following lots of interesting people and gradually engaging them in conversation. Eventually you might decide to get a domain of your own and use a tool like WordPress to build a more personalised online space.
We’d like to interrupt your AcWriMo with the following announcement…by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse StommelNovember 16th, 2013
This is an interruption to AcWriMo by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel! This weekend they are hosting a virtual flash mob in creative writing. So if you need a break but still want to expand your writing practice, see below for how you can join in…
A virtual flash mob unleashes upon the web (or into a single space on the web) a somewhat coordinated, somewhat chaotic flurry. All too often the work of the web looks nothing like the web, forcing dynamic text into static containers, community into hierarchical forums, and rich experiences into flat content management systems. The classrooms of the web are too often contained, given no room for improvisation, experimentation, failure, and discovery. We are interested, rather, in creating events that push the boundaries of what is possible online, relying on the rich ecosystem of digital space to create things impromptu and unexpected. The democracy of the web is not something it hands to us a priori but something we must take, forcefully if necessary.
Beginning November 15 at 11:59PM Eastern, Hybrid Pedagogy, in association with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Continuing Studies, will host a Digital Writing Makerthon. A playful experiment like MOOC MOOC and DigiWriMo, the Makerthon aims to create a text-image-sound hypertext novel written in 48 hours by multiple authors. More than a simple text novel, this novel project will invite all forms of digital media: text, video, audio, animation, graphics, tweets, computer code, etc. As well, the novel will exist in multiple places at once. While the narrative will be primarily housed in one document, writers may choose to use hyperlinks within that document to lead readers willy-nilly across the landscape of the Internet.
Last year during Digital Writing Month, hundreds of writers collaborated to write a novel in one day. This year, we’re raising the stakes, allowing more than just text to fill the page. In true maker fashion, we want story to give way to craft. We’re calling it a makertext — a narrative made into a living artifact.
Digital writing and storytelling is at the center of many online experiments — from DS106 to Phonar to the journal Hybrid Pedagogy itself. In his recent article, Sean writes, “Storytelling has changed. Stories are no longer told to audiences, but by audiences.” Some would say that digital environments, along with the inherently social and collaborative capabilities of platforms like Google Docs and Twitter, have changed the nature of writing, in ways both good and bad, permanently. The Digital Writing Makerthon seeks to explore what happens when writers actively engage with narrative as it is both enabled and deconstructed by digital tools.
The Makerthon will be held from November 15 at 11:59PM EST to November 17 at 11:59PM EST. (Visit World Time Buddy to find out what time we’ll be starting in your time zone.) Writers-artists-makers are encouraged to join for as much time as they can commit during the weekend — be that 15 minutes or 48 hours.
The Makerthon is a collective act of creativity — a massive artistic collaboration — but it is also a demonstration, a gathering place for doers, makers, writers, and thinkers. For more information, and to sign up, visit www.readmake.com, and follow @Jessifer and @Slamteacher on Twitter.
AcWriMo is a month-long academic write-a-thon that happens every November. It’s inspired by the amazing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) but caters to the specific needs of academic writers at all stages of their career (from undergrads to the most distinguished of professors). It’s hosted by us – PhD2Published – and throughout the month we run dedicated posts about academic writing and share literally thousands of tips via Twitter.
The idea is that you set yourself a writerly goal and get stuck in with all the information, advice and support you’ll get from others taking part. The month helps us:
1) Think about how we write,
2) Form a valuable support network for our writing practice,
3) Build better habits for the future,
4) And maybe – just maybe – get more done in less time!
And if you can get a lot done in November – a busy time for us academics all over – think how easy it’ll be to get writing done the rest of the year!
So here’s how you get involved….
There are 6 basic rules:
1. Decide on your goal. You might count words, hours put in or projects achieved – it’s up to you. But try and push yourself a bit. (And if you need help counting our PhDometer app – the proceeds from which help fund this month-long writing extravaganza – was designed for just that!)
2. Declare it! Basically, just sign up on the AcWriMo 2013 Writing Accountability Spreadsheet and fill in the sections on what you’d like to achieve by the end of the month. Being accountable is key to this working for you. You need to feel a bit of pressure to get the work done. So sign up and add your goals as soon as you can.
3. Draft a strategy. Don’t start AcWriMo without doing a bit of planning and preparation. Get some reading done, carve out time slots in your schedule to dedicate to writing, even buy your favourite coffee. Sort out whatever you’ll need to write, and get it done now, there won’t be time when November comes around.
4. Discuss your progress. OK so being on Twitter and Facebook with us all day isn’t acceptable – you’ve got work to do – but checking-in at certain times is really important! We want to know how you’re getting on? What is working for you and what isn’t? Do you need help? Do you want to share a writing triumph? (You’ll find most discussion about AcWriMo on Twitter using the #AcWriMo hashtag, but if Facebook is more your thing, go there. Or use your own blog to keep in touch. You can even write little updates you want to share in the spreadsheet.)
5. Don’t slack off. As participant Bettina said of the first AcWriMo, you must ‘write like there’s no December!’ If you push yourself, you’ll quickly discover the tips and techniques that work best for YOU and that’ll save you even more time in the long-run.
6. Declare your results. It’s great to use the spreadsheet everyday (or as often as you can) to chart how you’re getting on, but even if you can’t do that, you MUST announce your results at the end of the month. Our writing community benefits not only from sharing in your achievements, but knowing what didn’t work and being reminded that, at the end of the day, we’re all human!
Last year, AcWriMo go so big that we’ve had to change things up a bit for 2013. We’re now excitedly presenting a team of AcWriMoAmbassadors who’ll all be on hand to help you and cheer you on throughout the month! They include:
Anna Tarrant, Charlotte Frost, Eljee Javier, Ingrid Marais, Jennifer Lim, Jodi Campbell, Linda Levitt, Lorry Perez, Melanie Boeckmann, Nadine Levy, PhDForum, Rachael Cayley, Sarah Rowe, Virginia Yonkers
There’s lots on the way, it’s going to be the biggest and best AcWriMo yet!
EDIT. Remember that good writing is about what you take out, not what you leave in.
What else can help your Hackademic writing ? Click here to find out!
FIND INSPIRATION. Look to writers/academics you admire for inspiration. This sounds sappy. I don’t mean put up a poster of an academic superstar and pray to the goddesses of tenure. I mean, look at how their career was built. Find out what their early papers and teaching positions were. Did they write collaboratively a lot at the start before going it alone. What events have been pivotal in firmly establishing them on the map of academia? In short, be a sort of unofficial biographer of someone in academia you hold in high esteem and make sense of some of the steps they took to get where they are. Of course some things happen by chance – right place, right time – and some of it is not what you know but who you know – sadly enough – but you can still learn about strategising your future from their past.
What else does it take to be a Hackademic? Click here to find out!
CREATE A SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM. It’s a good idea to reward yourself when you make lots of progress on whatever writing project you’re working on. Even better, though, is to set up a system where other people reward you for making progress. When Jesse was working on his dissertation, he asked his parents and partner to sponsor his writing practice. His partner gave him $1 / page, his Mom gave him $.50 / page, and his Dad gave him $1 / page and another $1 / revised page). They paid in increments as Jesse hit milestones (like a finished chapter), all in the form of Amazon gift cards, which he mostly used to buy research materials. Over the course of his work, Jesse produced over 300 pages of writing, so he netted over $1000. Getting the money was insignificant, though, when compared to what he really got out of my dissertation sponsorship program, which was a finished dissertation.
For more information on becoming a Hackademic , click here !
HAVE A BIO. Write a concise bio (you might like to take the twitter bio word limit as your guide) and use it across all social media. It’s worth using the same profile picture everywhere too. You can write longer biographies to use for conferences etc but having a nice short one and a good memorable picture mean that people will easily find and remember you online. It’s a little like branding yourself, which sounds icky, but don’t think of it like that. Many of us are really bad at remembering people’s names and faces – let alone now that we live so much of our lives online and don’t always actually meet the person behind the avatar. Help everyone out by always looking and sounding the same online. And when you get to meet people IRL (in real life) who you’ve mostly known only in cyberspace, they’ll recognise you in an instant and feel like they’ve known you for years.
Besides Bio , there some other important tips to be a hackademic.
BE THE BIGGER PERSON. Be receptive to comments and advice on your writing style and content and remember it’s not personal. First, any criticism of your work is just that, criticism of your work, not you. Second, it’s useful. Every bit of feedback you get is information, even if you don’t act on all of it. Try to think about critical comments that seem unduly harsh as badly packaged generosity. It’s better to know as early as possible that your work might be received this way because you can adapt it in advance – depending on whether you agree with their points or not – or steel yourself for possible further criticism. You might also try to think of their input as somehow collaborative. All too often we are urged to see our written work as somehow finished, but really it’s a frozen chunk of an on-going and much more divergent conversation. When someone offers feedback, view your discussion with them as a way of working with them and making the exchange positive for both of you. You might even suggest working on an article together, and learning more about your own work and writing skills through theirs. Or you might go and scream out of an open window and move on because hey, life’s too short!
Maybe this tip can help your hackademic writing as well!
TEACH TO WRITE. We strongly encourage building the interests of your current writing project, where possible, into the syllabi for courses you’re teaching. This doesn’t mean you should teach an entire course to college freshman in the evolution of the North American cave cricket or a senior seminar studying the penmanship in Jane Austen’s grocery lists. On the other hand, you will be more efficient with your project if you create moments of overlap between what you’re writing about and what you’re teaching. Plus, your students will get to benefit from your knowledge and enthusiasm about the project.
Maybe this tip can help your hackademic writing as well!