The following is a collection of ideas gathered from volunteers through the Office of Third Goal’s Blog It Home contest in 2013. Additional suggestions are encouraged as this is a work in progress- by volunteers, for volunteers. Just submit your ideas using the form below.
FOR MORE ABOUT THIRD GOAL BLOGGING:
OUR NEW SITE -> INTENTIONAL TRAVELER’S GUIDE TO AWESOME AND MEANINGFUL BLOG POSTS ABROAD
- The most commonly used, free sites are: WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr. See the tutorials on their homepage to learn more about the technical aspects of setting up a blog.
A note about safety:
- Follow your PC post’s safety policies. You may not want to disclose the location of your site, whether it be sharing the name of the village or pictures of your front door.
- Once you set up your blog Peace Corps requires all volunteers to post the following disclaimer: “The contents of this blog are mine/ours personally and do not reflect the views of the United States Government or the Peace Corps.”
How to make your site easy to navigate:
- Use a menu tab on your hompage that will link to “static content” pages with info that people might want to reference frequently. For example, instead of a blog post to explain your volunteer assignment, set up an FAQ and/or “About” page that people can easily find from your main menu.
- Use Categories to label each post- this will help people find more of your content based on the topics they’re interested in.
- Use hyperlinks to link readers to additional resources, news stories, other blogs, or websites for for more information about what you are writing.
- Use relevant tags (e.g. Jamaican Recipes, Mexico Photo Diary, Thai Language, Ethiopian Culture) on each post- this can help your blog be more accessible on search engines.
- Add a “subscribe” option on your homepage. This way people don’t have to remember to check your blog because they can automatically receive emailed updates whenever you post something new.
- Promote your blog via social media to increase your readership- share links to new posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. (With some blog programs, you can set up your social media accounts to share your new blog posts automatically when you hit publish.)
- Add Twitter status updates to your blog’s homepage: you can Tweet via text message (Twitter settings > Mobile) for speedy site updates to your blog.
How to monitor your site’s traffic:
- Use your blog program’s privacy settings to control how accessible your blog is (friends and family vs. general public).
- To avoid “trolls” and spam, adjust your settings so that comments must be approved by you before they publish- keep in mind you may not want this option if you can’t get to internet regularly to approve the comments.
How to generate new ideas for blog content:
- Brainstorm all the time: carry a notebook and camera to collect ideas when away from the computer.
- Be creative: use storytelling exercises to experiment with ways to convey your story online.
- Get inspired by other bloggers for blog post/series ideas.
- Collaborative blogging – Link to posts from others who are blogging in your country or start a group blog to share about a specific topic (like sharing recipes)
How to blog effectively with limited internet access:
- Reduce the size of the photos in a photo editing program if you have to upload photos using a slow internet connection.
- Save your blog posts on a word document and upload multiple posts when you access the internet. Avoid putting all of your updates into one, never-ending post. Break them up for easier reading.
- Schedule your posts so that your blog is updated at the desired frequency. Once or twice per week is a good start. (Blogger has a “Schedule Posts” option under “Post Settings,” WordPress allows writers to set a “publish date” next to the Publish button).
How to blog with limited electricity or no computer:
- With some extra effort, blogging can be done on a smart phone application.
- Keep a list of ideas, or start writing out thoughts by hand, and type them out when you travel to a town with an internet cafe or to your PC Office. Use the “schedule post” idea listed above to publish your posts periodically over several weeks.
- Invest in a solar charger for your phone or laptop, like this blogger uses.
- For more, see Blogging Off the Grid, featuring Matt in Zambia via Peace Corps Passport