The purpose of a blog as part of an instructional designer's portfolio is to showcase their expertise and skills in instructional design, as well as to demonstrate their ability to create valuable and engaging content. A blog can serve several purposes such as:
- Demonstrating expertise: A blog allows an instructional designer to share their knowledge and expertise in instructional design, and to demonstrate their understanding of the latest trends, best practices, and research in the field.
- Showcasing skills: A blog can be used to showcase an instructional designer's writing and presentation skills, as well as their ability to create multimedia content such as videos, podcasts, and infographics.
- Building a personal brand: A blog can be used to establish an online presence, to create a personal brand, and to connect with others in the field.
- Providing evidence of work: A blog can be used as a platform to share instructional design projects and examples of work, which can provide a visual representation of the instructional designer's skills and capabilities.
- Engaging with an audience: A blog can be used to engage with an audience, to receive feedback and to foster a sense of community.
- Networking: A blog can be used to network with other instructional designers, educators, and experts in the field.
- Provide a platform for sharing ideas and promoting critical thinking: A blog can be used to share ideas, opinions and strategies on instructional design, and promote critical thinking about the field.
Overall, a blog is a powerful tool for an instructional designer to showcase their skills, knowledge and expertise, and to build a strong personal brand that can help them stand out in the field.
Finding topics for blog posts
There are many topics that can be covered in blog posts for instructional designers, some examples include:
- Instructional design theories and models: Blog posts can cover different instructional design theories and models, such as ADDIE, SAM, and UDL, and how they can be applied to create effective learning experiences.
- Emerging technologies in education: Blog posts can cover the latest technologies and tools used in instructional design and how they can be integrated to enhance learning experiences
- Learning strategies and activities: Blog posts can cover different learning strategies and activities that can be used to engage learners, such as gamification, project-based learning, and problem-based learning.
- Assessment and evaluation: Blog posts can cover different assessment and evaluation methods that can be used to measure learning outcomes, such as formative and summative assessments, and how to use data to improve instruction.
- Designing for accessibility: Blog posts can cover strategies for designing inclusive and accessible instructional materials, such as accessibility guidelines and Universal Design for Learning.
- Tips and better practices for remote learning: Blog posts can cover best practices and strategies for creating effective remote learning experiences, such as online collaboration, video conferencing and online assessment.
- Case studies: Blog posts can cover case studies of instructional design projects, highlighting the design process, challenges and successes.
- Professional development and career advice: Blog posts can cover tips for professional development and career advancement for instructional designers, such as networking, mentoring and continuing education.
Again, these are just examples, there are many other potential topics that could be covered in blog posts for instructional designers. The most important thing is to choose topics that align with your interests, skills and expertise and that would be of interest to your target audience.
Writing good blog posts
If you Google "how to write a good blog post" you will get lots of advice; however, most of the advice about writing a good blog post is related to marketing. Your blog is your primary networking tool on the web. The following video provides some tips for writing good blog posts.
Know your audience. Who are you writing for? A professional blog is typically written for others within the same profession. Someone who is your colleague today may be your boss tomorrow. Be aware that your audience is bigger than you think. You may be writing to a small group of people but because you are on the internet, that audience can grow. Make sure you include enough context so that your larger audience understands your post.
Share useful information. What is something that you know that might help your colleagues? What is one thing that you do, and how can you show that you know that topic? Try to “show” rather than “tell”. For example, I will often post YouTube screencasts on how to do things in Microsoft Word, and then blog about it - embedding my YouTube video. In this way, I’m talking about it - sharing it - but also showing it.
Remember that networking is an act of generosity, and your blog post is in part about sharing something that other people might want to learn.
Create a meaningful title. You want your title to be as concise as possible, but also have enough information in it that the reader knows what to expect. Make sure your title matches the content of the post.
Find a matching feature image. Originally feature images were not a thing. It was not necessary to include an image with your blog post. As a result, it can be easy to forget this vital step. In today's blog posts, it is necessary to include a feature image. When you share your post on social media, the feature image is a key part of what draws readers to your post. Your feature image should be in some way related to your post.
Ensure you have permission to use the image (see images). If you are searching for images on the web, ensure that the image allows for commercial use. Also, it is a good practice to credit the creator or source of the image, even if it is public domain.
State the problem in the first paragraph. Your first paragraph is often used as the excerpt for the blog post – unless your theme allows you to specify an alternative excerpt. In many cases, readers will read the first paragraph and if it isn’t engaging they stop reading. You want to use this paragraph to draw people in. One trick is to pose a question in the first paragraph that you answer in the rest of the post.
End with a question or call to action. If you want engagement, that is comments, on your post, one way to help encourage people to leave comments is to end your post with a question. That makes it easier for someone to jump in and answer your question. For example: in my post “What I learned about online teamwork”, I ended the post with the question ”What do you do to help your online students work as a team? What strategies have worked for you?”
Be your authentic self. Don’t try to be something you are not. Part of the reason a blog adds value to your portfolio is that it helps the reader get to know who you are – and the types of things that you can contribute. People read your blog to learn, but also to get to know who you are. They want to hear what you have to say.
Don’t struggle. When you first start, you need to experiment a bit to find your voice. It can take a while with regular practice before you figure out your style. Try not to struggle too much with it. If it feels unnatural for you, then it likely isn't your style.
The only way to figure out your style is to practice. After writing a few different posts, you will figure out what style you like. Also, reading different blogs will help you figure out what you like and don’t like.
When Scott and I started writing for GoingEast, our travel blog, it took a while to figure out how to write as “us”, learning to refer to yourself in third person, but using “we” when it was both of us. Things like that take a while to figure out, but once you do, writing becomes a lot easier.