Does your school have a blog? Are you the writer and/or content manager of your school’s blog? If so, you already know that having a blog is one of the best ways to attract prospective parents, connect with current parents, and other school stakeholders. And, if you’re interested, here’s a list of other schools that are blogging. (Feel free to leave a comment with your school blog link.)
You already know that having a blog is the number one strategy needed for inbound marketing and SEO and that, over time, it’s one of the best ways to increase enrollment for your school.
So how’s it going? Are you accomplishing the goals you’re trying to achieve with your blog?
If not, you’re not alone. Trust me on this. Blogging can be very rewarding and yes, some of us really enjoy the process. But honestly, if your blog is not increasing enrollment for your school, or accomplishing other goals you have set, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your blogging strategy.
First of all, if you don’t have a blog for your school yet – start one! Here’s a list of topics to get you started.
But I’m guessing that most of you already have a blog. So maybe it’s time to evaluate your blogging strategy and focus on achieving the goals you have set (my guess its increasing enrollment.)
In this ultimate guide for school bloggers, there are 5 strategies and 23 tactics you can use to improve the results you’re seeing from your blogging efforts.
STRATEGY #1. CREATE A PLAN FOR YOUR BLOG
This probably sounds pretty basic, but so many folks forget to make a strategic plan. And planning makes all the difference when it comes to blogging. Here are the elements you need in your plan:
- Get serious about your editorial calendar.
Don’t have an editorial calendar? There’s no time like the present. I suggest setting up your editorial calendar in Google Docs using Sheets – that way it’s easy for your staff to participate. And yes, ask others to participate. There’s no reason you have to do it all!
- Stay on top of your schedule – but be flexible too.
People like routine, especially when it comes to blogging. If you post regularly on a certain day of the week (FYI – I post on Wednesdays) people will start looking for your posts, and that’s a very good thing. But be open to doing extra posts that relate to school events or fun activities. Just make sure you have those permission slips signed if you post any pictures of their kids.
- Make sure you are writing about topics your audience is interested in
Use these tools to monitor and listen to your audience. It is amazing what you can learn from using the internet as a monitoring and research tool.
- Use tools that will save you time and improve your posts. Some of my favorite blogging tools are:
- Portent’s Content Idea Generator
- Answer The Public for topic ideas
- CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer
- Canva for graphics
- Ubersuggest for keyword research
- 40 Free Stunningly Beautiful Stock Image Sites
- Buffer for distribution scheduling
- Medium and Alltop for promoting content
STRATEGY #2. WRITE EXCELLENT BLOG POSTS
This is the fun part! Here are some guidelines for writing awesome posts. Which tactics are you already using? Any new ideas here?
- Focus on quality writing
Refer to my post 10 Tips for Writing Stellar Blog Posts for more specific suggestions related to “voice”, headlines, visuals, content, SEO and more.
- Express your school’s opinions
Don’t be afraid to occasionally post about controversial topics. People love controversy so don’t hesitate to share your school’s perspectives on relevant topics.
- Make your content scannable
Most readers will scan your posts to find parts they are most interested in. There’s so much “noise” on the internet today that it’s hard to keep people for too long. Use headlines, subheadings, and bullets to make it easy for your visitors to scan your content.
- Be generous with your knowledge
Your goal is to help people learn more about education in general (as it relates to their children) and your school. People need to see that your school is the “expert” and that you know what you’re talking about before they’ll be willing to set up that all-important enrollment interview.
- Focus on the headline
It’s so true – your headline is the magnet that will attract people to your post – and will determine if they want to read it or not. So spend a little time coming up with an enticing – but genuine – headline. I suggest using tools to generate ideas.
And once you have a headline you like, try using CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer tool. I find it to be very helpful!
- Use awesome visuals
- Search engine optimization
STRATEGY #3. ENGAGE WITH YOUR READERS
I know, I know. Easier said than done. We get so busy and engagement takes time. But the whole point of having a blog is to attract and engage with folks. So set up those notifications and respond as soon as you can. Or ask someone on your team to address customer comments, questions, and concerns.
When it comes to your blog, use these tactics for reader engagement.
- Ask for comments
Ask the reader to engage by leaving a comment at the end of the blog. It’s so important to give them the opportunity to express their reactions and thoughts to your content.
- Respond to comments
Take the time to respond to comments. If you’re too busy, assign someone on your team to keep up with the comments. It really is vital for folks to know you’ve seen their feedback or answered their question.
- Subscriber list calls-to-action
Get your readers onto your blog/email subscriber list. Be sure to have your autoresponder set up and visible from all pages of your blog to make it easy for them to subscribe. A lot of us hate those pop-up email subscriber light boxes, but they work. Include a call-to-action in the post if it’s appropriate. People will follow your direction.
- Write a blog post in response
Consider writing a blog post that responds to a comment or question you’ve received from a reader. It will show you listen – and care – about their concerns.
STRATEGY #4. TEST, TRACK AND ANALYZE YOUR DATA
- Gather Insights from Your Data
If you don’t already have Google Analytics set up on your blog, it’s time. You need to know where your traffic is coming from, and which posts are the most read (and with the least amount of bounces.) This will give you valuable information that you can use to focus your promotion efforts as well as future content ideas.
- Look for Long-Term Trends
While month-to-month analytics are important, looking at your blog statistics over a longer period of time will help you know how effective your blog truly is.
STRATEGY #5. PROMOTE YOUR BLOG RELENTLESSLY
- Publish to Your Social Media Channels
Seriously, you have to let people know about your blog. Of course, the obvious course of action is to publish links (with a snippet) to your blog on your social media channels. Make sure you write a little commentary about your post when you publish it to invite people to read it.
- Publish on Alternative Sites
There are several sites that make it easier for you to reach your target audience and build brand awareness. A few that I suggest are:
- Publish to Social Bookmarking Sites
Social bookmarking is not dead. On the contrary, social bookmarking sites like Reddit are growing in popularity because they tend to attract committed communities of people who are passionate about the topic at hand. Plus, they are great for SEO. Here are a few popular sites to check out:
- Comment on Other Blogs
Take the time to visit other blogs and comment on posts that interest you. Be sure to include a backlink to your blog. You can even respond to a blog post by writing one of your own and referencing it in the comments. Have fun with it!
- Link to Your Blog Posts
This is where inbound links come into play. Your goal is to drive traffic to your blog by getting other sites to link to yours, posting your blog in directories and remembering to link to other pages on your own site using internal links.
- Be Active in Groups
There are lots of places to get involved online. Two of the most popular are Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Groups, and Triberr, but there are other niche forums you can – and should – join. Participating in these types of groups will help you form online relationships that can be invaluable for gaining referrals. Just be sure to reciprocate whenever you can.
- Guest Blogging
Inviting others to post on your blog will help to build a relationship with them. And, by posting and adding value on other people’s blogs, you are creating goodwill. Bloggers can be very influential which can ultimately lead to more enrollments. Not to mention the SEO benefits as well as brand awareness.
So there you have it – the ultimate guide to a successful school blog. What other strategies and tactics have you tried (that I missed)? I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment below.