SchoolArts Magazine

September 2016

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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Y ou're an art teacher who has started an artroom blog. You're proud of your students and yourself as well. Maybe your prin - cipal or school district is e ncouraging you to share the goings-on in your class via social media. But after all that work setting up your blog and posting regularly, how can you make sure people actually read and return to it? Your Audience Start off by determin- ing which readers you are targeting and how you will provide them with useful con- tent. A conversational tone and straightforward writing style is great, but some blogs read almost like diary confessionals. That's fine if you're writing for yourself or for family, but keep in mind that fellow art teach- ers and homeschoolers want to know how you got such great results from your students. They'll skim past most of the personal stuff. Use Photography Include good, sharp photographs with every post. Rename all the photo- graphs on your blog with searchable t erms. No one is going to search for "JPEG 423," but they'll search for "Popsicle stick catapult" or "tooth - pick tower worksheet." This works b etter than any other technique I know and it will drive traffic to your Rachel Wintemberg A D V O C A C Y How to Start an Artroom Blog old posts for years to come. It also improves the quality of search engines and everyone's web experience. Think about how easy it would be to find what you were looking for if every pic - ture on the web was named properly. Additional Features One unique thing about my blog is that it features a site map. This makes it easy for anyone to find my posts, old or new. Adding a search feature on your home page is also a good idea. Visual Appeal Return to your old posts and reread them with a fresh eye. Are they too wordy? Do you find yourself skim- ming and not reading for understand- ing? Did you write a description when a photo would do? Do you have a link to your YouTube channel? Can you embed a video? Embedded videos, looping GIFs, and other neat tricks will increase visual appeal. Get Connected Start following other art teacher blogs and be active and com- ment. If your comments are thoughtful, sincere, and reflect genuine interest, you'll start seeing traffic on your own blog. You might even make a few new friends. Start a Facebook page to promote your blog and invite your followers to like and share your content. Post interesting, relevant art- related articles to develop a following and share something every day. If the rest of your content is good, your blog promotions won't read like spam. Also, follow online groups and cross-post the link on your boards whenever you update. Do Something New Are you blogging to share, or just to show off? Too many blogs do the lat- ter. The best bloggers have generous h earts. Yes, I know your students do amazing stuff. I want to share that light bulb moment with my students, too. You pulled off a great project. You boosted a kid's confi - dence. You handed your class a moti- vational hook that got them excited. T hey walked out of your classroom with something inside of them that they didn't have when they walked in. But what are you doing that I'm not? If you tell me that, I'll keep coming back to your blog. Rachel Wintemberg is an art teacher at Samuel E. Shull School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and the author of the blog, The Helpful Art Teacher. rachelhw1966 @ W E B L I N K After all that work setting u our blog and posting regularl , how ca ou make sure people actuall read and return to it? 8 SEPTEMBER 2016 SchoolArts

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