English 106 Blog Assignment
This assignment has a number of components: The Proposal, the Blog
Itself, the Google Adsense
Application Process, and the Final
Project Report on the blog's effectiveness.
The proposal needs to identify the overall topic (or category) of the
blog, and how this topic will be narrowed down and focused for your
specific audience. In general, the narrower and more focused, the
better for your topic! A good
blog topic should be:
You'll also need to think about your audience in detail, and about
yourself in detail.
- Unique. This
doesn't just mean you haven't plagiarized. It also means that
there are not a million blogs already out there with exactly the same
kinds of content. The
same category of topic is ok,
as long as you can differentiate yourself in some way with your unique
content. (Your unique take on things, your unique angle, your
unique focus, etc.)
these questions: Why would an internet user want to read your blog
(instead of somebody else)? Why are they searching for this topic
in the first place? What exactly are you giving them that will be
useful to them? If you have a clear and solid answer to these
questions, then chances are good that your topic is relevant.
Relevant content means it's useful and relevant to someone else. If someone
is searching on the web and they come to your blog, you want their
search to end at your page! This happens when you're giving them
something of relevance and substance that is immediately useful to them.
means aimed directly at a specific kind of internet user. A good
blog is reader-centric, which means that it clearly and immediately
delivers on your readers' expectations or desires in some way.
The clearer you can picture your readers (your "target audience"), the
easier it is to focus and narrow your topic to hit this target.
Ten Required Elements of the Proposal:
- What is the general category of topic that your blog will
- How will you narrow this down to a topic that is focused
- What will you call your blog? (Put a lot of thought
this after answering the first two).
Explain in detail the rationale for your choice of blog name.
- Provide a detailed description of who your target audience
- Provide a detailed description of what your target audience
be searching for when they find your blog. (Why are they looking? What do
they want to do?)
- Is your targeted audience broad or narrow (or broad in some
but narrow in others)? Briefly explain your rationale for
focusing your target audience in the way you have.
A complete, printed rough draft of your Proposal is due in class on
Friday, January 26. Email the final draft to me by the start
of class time on Monday, January 29. Please consider the class
reading "Effective Document Design" when deciding on the appropriate
format and layout of this document. The design of this document
will be part of its grade
- What makes you
qualified to write about this topic?
- What additional work or research will you need to do to
best content you can about your topic?
- How does your topic relate to a possible future career
- Briefly explain your interest in (and passion for) this
topic. (Note: Don't BS
on this last one! I genuinely want to help you find a topic that
interests you a lot! Your interest level in your topic will make
the difference between an awesome semester and a tedious one!)
The Blog Itself
Class blogs will be created on Google's Blogger platform. This is
very easy, and integrates well with other Google products. If a
student desires to go beyond this (register a domain name, find a host,
use a CMS program, create a website, etc) that should probably be
ok. Check with me if you would like to use a different platform.
Creating a blog is a lot of work,
and this work needs to happen consistently
throughout the course of the semester. How much content
will you need to produce?
Number of Blog Posts:
At the bare minimum you will
need at least two blog posts each week
once you start your blog in Week 3, although for a successful blog, you
will really want to aim for more than that. Some experts
recommend a new post every day, since visitors are more likely to
bookmark your site if they know they will be greeted with fresh content
each time they come back. Some experts say every other day.
You will need at least 15 blog
by March 19. On March 19 you will be submitting your
blog for approval to Google's Adsense. Google reviews
applications carefully to insure that their ads only go onto
high-quality sites, and to insure that your site is focused and
targeted clearly (so they can serve up targeted ads for your
readers). It is highly recommended that you have established a consistent pattern of posting
relevant, targeted, and unique content by the time you submit this
application. "Consistent" doesn't mean one post on the first day
of your blog, and 14 posts a week before you submit. Consistent
means steady and reliable. I also recommend that you have at
least 15 blog posts. This is a bare minimum. The more quality, relevant, content-rich posts you
have, the greater your chances of success will be.
Length of Blog Posts:
This is a tough one to nail down, since the optimal length for your
posts will depend a lot on your topic, readership, etc. Also, it
can be quite healthy to have post lengths that vary from post to
post. A short post might just be a paragraph or two, and a longer
post might be longer and require some scrolling. Occasionally, it
might be fine to have a really short post, like a linked or embedded
Youtube video and some text that explains why this link is relevant to
your specific readership. But too much of that can be a
problem. Remember, you want to attract readers to your site because of your quality content, not
send them away to other sites because they have quality content!
Here are some things to consider when you decide on a blog post's
The course instructors will periodically review your blogs to see if you need to beef up your
content, or streamline it. Feel free to ask at any point if you
- Each blog post should have a rationale or "mission."
is the reason why you are putting it on your site in the first place,
and the reason why you think your targeted reader will benefit from
it. Is the post long enough to accomplish its mission?
- Each blog post should be able to stand alone.
a search engine might send a visitor directly to an individual blog
post, bypassing the front page of your blog. Is the blog post
complete and self-standing?
- Will a visitor feel fulfilled and satisfied by this post,
they feel cheated?
- Will a returning reader (who bookmarked your blog) feel
and satisfied by this post, or will they feel cheated?
A Note About Work-Load:
This will seem like a lot of work. Here are some things that will
make it more manageable:
- Most of the assignments in class will be constructed in
way that you will be able to recycle them as posts to your blog.
Case 1, 2, and 3 specifically will be directly linked to posts
to your blog.
- Spread your blogging out for sanity. Writing a single
post can be a fun, easy, and spontaneous activity, and it needn't take
longer than an hour. In this case, slow and steady will win the
race. If your normal work habit is to procrastinate for long
periods of time and then try to do everything at once, you might
consider trying to make a schedule.
- Choose a topic you love, and an audience you can relate to.
AdSense Appliation Process
Applying for AdSense, and lising ads on your site, is an easy, built-in
function of Blogger. You can read about it here.
Once your ads are on your page, you will want to come up with a
coherent strategy for displaying them, and you will need to be able to
articulate the reasons behind this strategy.
The Final Project
At the end of the semester, you will using tools like Google Analytics
to do analysis of the traffic to, through, and from your blog.
You will also be analyzing the effectiveness of different posts or
posting styles. You will also be experimenting with and analyzing
different strategies of promoting your blog, generating back-links,
retaining return visitors, etc.
The Final Project Report is a presentation of this analysis, along with
a more general "What I learned from this experience." This final
report will take the form of a 20 minute power point
presentation and a written report.
You will highlight:
Feel free to incorporate the material you generated for Case 2 and Case 3
directly into this final report! Both of these cases were
designed to let you do this: They both asked you to analyze your
different methods, and use that data to improve your blog.
Although be aware that your final report needs to go beyond these two
- What your blog is. What strategies did you use to
identify a market and refine or develop your focus? Did the focus
change from the start of the semester to the end? How is your
blog unique, relevant, and targetted?
- Show some information that you got from Google Analytics
about your blog traffic. What did the numbers tell you? How
did you act on what the numbers told you to improve your blog's
- What strategies have you used to promote or increase
traffic to your blog? How have you tested these strategies?
What have you learned?
- Other tips or tricks you can share with your classmates
that you have learned in this process?
- Stepping back from the blog itself, what have you learned
about "Content Engineering" (as opposed to just "Writing") from this
experience? How might you apply this in your future career?
Return to the syllabus.