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:
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,
Consider 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.
Targeted. This 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.
You'll also need to think about your audience in detail, and
about yourself in detail.
Ten Required Elements of the Proposal:
What is the general category
of topic that your blog will address?
How will you narrow this down
to a topic that is focused and distinctive?
What will you call your blog? (Put a lot of thought
into 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 is for this blog.
Provide a detailed description
of what your target audience will 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 ways but narrow in others)? Briefly explain your
rationale for focusing your target audience in the way you have.
What makes you
qualified to write about this topic?
What additional work or
research will you need to do to write the best content you can
about your topic?
How does your topic relate to
a possible future career choice for you?
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!)
A complete, printed rough draft of
your Proposal is due in class on Friday, January 25. Email
the final draft to me by the start of class time on Monday,
January 28. 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
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 posts by March 22. On March 22 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 length:
Each blog post should have a
rationale or "mission." This 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. Remember that 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
Will a visitor feel fulfilled
and satisfied by this post, or will they feel cheated?
Will a returning reader (who bookmarked your blog) feel
fulfilled and satisfied by this post, or will they feel cheated?
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 are wondering.
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 such a 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 blog 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
The Google 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.
Final Project Report
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
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
You will highlight:
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 performance?
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
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?
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 blog with
different methods, and use that data to improve your blog.
Although be aware that your final report needs to go beyond these
Return to the syllabus.