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How to Launch a Blog for Scholars, Academics, and Scholarpreneurs

February 24, 2024

A women is typing on her computer with a cup of coffee next to her laptop. She is creating some content during her women's writing retreat

The Scholar’s Guide on How to Launch a Blog

Blogging became all the rage in the 1990’s (this is your cue to realize how long ago the 90’s actually were). The blog-sphere experienced a few peaks and valleys with the advent of microblogging sites like Twitter, may she rest in peace. A staple, it remained. And today, we’ll be covering how to launch a blog for scholars, academics, and scholarpreneurs interested in expanding their thought leadership. 

A blog is a frequently updated web page used for personal commentary or business content. Many academics, scholars, and scholarpreneurs maintain blogs in some form or fashion. While it can be a slow drip, blogging can help scholars establish a strong foundation for thought leadership, a well of content, and a potential research article or two

You can launch a blog about self-help, descriptions of academic practice, technical advice, academic cultural critique, personal reflections, research dissemination, career advice, teaching advice, or whatever your heart desires.

Regardless, academic blogging allows for combining personal and professional identities in ways not found in traditional academic writing. Blogs are really great at showcasing more informal “thought in progress” writing.

In this post, we cover: 

  • Why Should Scholars and Academics Launch a Blog
    • Benefits of blogging for scholars and academics
    • Examples of successful scholar blogs
  • The Essentials to Launch a Blog
    • Establishing your goal
    • Choosing a blog platform
    • Selecting a domain name
    • Designing your blog
  • Creating Content and Search Engine Optimization
    • Develop engaging and informative content
    • Incorporate visuals, data, and multimedia elements
    • Optimize for search engines
  • Promoting your blog
    • Leverage social media platforms
    • Guest blogging and collaborating with other scholars
    • Utilize email marketing
  • Blog metrics & impact
  • Conclusion + Sources

Why Should Scholars Launch a Blog?

Benefits of blogging for scholars

For academics, the world often feels confined to academic journals and conferences, where research is conducted, published, and discussed; rinse, repeat. The world is a bit more accessible for those of us outside the academy, but can be a challenge to share our perspectives in a way that feels meaningful and rich. 

Enter: the blog.

Blogs are an excellent way to connect directly to an interested audience. It is a great way to exhibit thought leadership. As a outlet for commentary and content, blogs give scholars the opportunity to flesh out ideas and thoughts in a public forum where followers can read, comment, and engage. It also allows you to share your research, connect with colleagues, and expand your reach beyond the traditional confines of academic journals and conferences. 

Here are some ways a blog can benefit scholars and scholarpreneurs:   

Democratize Knowledge

Blogging can help scholars break down barriers and make your research accessible to a wider audience. Imagine students, researchers, and the general public engaging with your work, sparking discussions and fostering a deeper understanding of your field. As long as you are writing in an accessible format, you can help lower the walls of the ivory tower. 

Build a Community

Blogging connects you with a vibrant online community of scholars and people interested in your research topic. Believe me, there are people who are interested. Share ideas, engage in discussions, and find collaborators and partners. This collaborative space can enrich your own research and offer valuable perspectives.

Boost Your Expertise

Regularly writing and sharing your knowledge sharpens your communication skills. Blogging hones your communication, critical thinking, analytical abilities, and empathy, making you a more effective researcher and communicator.

Shape the Conversation

Academic blogs are powerful tools for shaping your field. Discuss critical issues, offer alternative perspectives, and influence policies and practices. Your voice can make a real difference.

Develop Your Research

Blogging can be a space to explore early-stage ideas, gather feedback, and refine your research. Share your thoughts, get constructive criticism, and watch your ideas evolve through interaction with a diverse audience.

Examples of successful scholar blogs

  • Catherine Cronin – a blog focused on critical and social justice approaches in digital, open and higher education
  • Tressie McMillian Cottom – while this is an archive to her original blog, Some of Us Are Brave, it is an excellent example of foundational thought leadership by launching a blog from the bowels of graduate school
  • Patter – a blog on research education, academic writing, public engagement, funding, other eccentricities

Getting Started: The Essentials of How to Launch a Blog

Now that I’ve convinced you of the potential benefits, let’s delve into the practical steps of how to launch a blog:

Establishing your goal

Establishing your goal on the onset is crucial for the decisions to come when launching a blog. Your goal will determine platform, design, content, your investment in search engine optimization, etc. Here, you should be asking yourself: why do I want to launch a blog?

There are many different goals for launching a blog. From: monetization, using it as an open research journal, a outlet to establish thought leadership, sharing your research in an accessible format, help readers shift their perspectives, and more. 

Determine your goal(s) before you select your platform. 

Choosing a platform to launch your blog

There are plenty of platform options, which can be overwhelming. Select a platform that fits with your goal(s). Most, if not all, offer plenty of personalization. Many also offer free, albeit limited, options. Look at some of the blogs you enjoy and find out what platform they use. Investigate a bit more on what the platforms offer.  

I use WordPress to launch my blog, as a part of my larger website. 

I do not recommend launching a blog on sites like LinkedIn, Medium, Substack, etc. for a few reasons. While these sites have built-in audiences which makes them appealing, the audience is borrowed. Depending on your goal, one of these platforms could be a great avenue for blog publishing. But, like social media sites, the platforms can fluctuate in their relevance, their existence, etc. Imagine spending months or years building an audience, just for the site to lose significance in the culture. 

The key point when considering launching on a site like LinkedIn, Medium, Substack is this: you are loaning out your thought leadership to the platform.You are sharing your thoughts but it is elevating their platform as content havens. They may be your words, but it is their content. Harboring your content on your own website will prove valuable in the long run. 

Selecting a domain name and web hosting to launch your blog

Your domain name is your blog’s unique address on the internet. Choose a name that is professional, memorable, and relevant to your field of expertise. Reliable web hosting ensures your blog’s smooth operation and accessibility to visitors.

Many scholars use their name as their domain name. This is absolutely fine especially as scholars look to build their professional brands. Your domain name should depends on your goal. Is your blog for developing thought leadership, or sharing specific content? If it’s for the content, you may consider a domain name that represents the research. 

Designing your blog

First impressions matter. Launch a blog with a visually appealing and user-friendly layout that reflects your professionalism and aligns with your academic discipline. Design your blog using templates provided in the blogging platform. You can hire someone to design it before you launch your blog. You can design it yourself using Canva, which is free (limited), with plenty of fun designs and templates. 

Ensure your blog is mobile-responsive for optimal viewing across all devices. Most people are viewing these things from their mobile phones. Build a blog that is accessible for visually impaired readers. 

Launching Your Blog With Compelling Blog Posts and Search Engine Optimization

The heart of launching a blog lies in the quality and value of the content you produce. Scholars are a content creators, whether you want to admit it or not. Thought leadership is content creation at its core. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Develop engaging and informative content: Focus on topics relevant to your research area and expertise, ensuring your writing is clear, concise, and accessible. Finding one’s voice in this non-academic platform may present itself as a challenge. Practice makes perfect. You can write research briefs, reactions to the news related to your research interests, highlighting other research related to your interests/field. A blog can be used as a place to build and grow research ideas in real time. It can be as long or as short as you want it, but consider how this may impact search engine optimization (SEO; see below).
  • Incorporate visuals, data, and multimedia elements: Don’t be afraid to elevate your content with images, infographics, charts, or even videos to break up text and improve comprehension. Just make sure the image sizes aren’t large, the data isn’t too dense, and you provide relatable context.
  • Optimize for search engines (SEO): This is pretty crucial if your goals are related to monetization, web traffic, and thought leadership. Ensure you launch your blog with the foundation that will help you gain traction with SEO. A developed SEO strategy can help you move up in the search results in Google organically (aka without paying for Google Ads, etc.). But SEO is also so complicated and overwhelming if you are new to this space. A few points to start:
    • Ensure you launch your blog to be crawled and indexed by Google
    • Conduct keyword research (Google Keyword Planner is a good start) to identify search terms related to the topics you intend to write about. The more people search a term, the more likely you can more up in the search rankings
    • Strategically incorporate the keywords into your blog posts and titles
    • Utilize clear and concise meta descriptions to entice potential readers from search engine results pages
    • Write good content that people want to read!

Here is one of many SEO resources. I launched my blog in 2021 and I am still learning about proper SEO structure, so give yourself some grace if you don’t get it.  

  • Maintain a consistent posting schedule: Regularly publishing new content is crucial for retaining audience interest and establishing yourself as a reliable source of information. Yet, this point depends on your goal. If you are not interested in monetization or the search engine, posting regularly is less important.

Promoting Your Blog and Building an Audience

Once you’ve launched your blog, it’s time to spread the word and attract readers. 

  • Leverage social media platforms: Share your blog posts on your social media channels. Engage with followers, participate in online discussions, and join relevant academic groups to increase visibility.
  • Guest blogging and collaborating with other scholars: Collaborate with colleagues in your field by guest blogging on their established platforms or inviting them to contribute guest posts on your blog. This cross-promotion strategy expands your reach and exposes you to new audiences.
  • Utilize email marketing: I can’t emphasize this enough! Build an email list of subscribers and send regular newsletters promoting your latest blog posts. Even if the newsletter is once a month! This direct communication channel fosters stronger relationships with your audience. But again, this depends on your goal.

Each of the above points can help your SEO. But it is an ongoing and slow process. It includes developing your domain authority so you can gain search visibility. Regularly monitor your website analytics to track traffic sources, identify what resonates with your audience, and adapt your strategy accordingly.

Metrics & Impact of Blogs

If you are interested in quantifying your blog for tenure and promotion, we recommend a few key considerations. First, before you do anything, review your tenure and promotion guidelines to ensure you set yourself up for success before you commit to anything. Talk with your chair about what are the expectations, what would be an acceptable qualitative and/or qualitative measurement, etc. Get it in writing. 

Other metrics can include shares, webpage visits, comments, collaboration opportunities (e.g., “hey I read your blog post on this topic and I’d like to work with you on a research paper,” etc), speaking engagements (e.g., “hey I read your blog and I am interested in hosting you at my event as the keynote speaker,” etc.), media opportunities, etc.

As you select your website platform, prioritize setting up Google Analytics to measure web traffic in general and for specific posts. Consider installing a SEO platform on your website to help you position your site to be optimized to be found (if web traffic is the metric of choice). 

Establish a metric based on your tenure and promotion criteria or your own impact measurement, whether its shares, page visits, comments, domain authority, etc.. Constantly evaluate your metrics to improve them.

Conclusion

Launching a blog is a journey, not a destination. It’s about sharing your passion, connecting with others, and making a difference in your field. Launching a blog takes time, dedication, and consistent effort.

By following these guidelines and tailoring them to your specific field and expertise, you can leverage the power of blogging to amplify your voice, share your knowledge, and connect with a wider audience. So, take the first step, explore the possibilities, and discover how your voice can resonate beyond the ivory tower.

If you were to launch a blog today, what would be the topic?

Looking for some assistance? We can help you launch your blog off the ground! Schedule a free strategy session today.  

Sources

How to turn your research into a blog

“Think about how fascinating this is”: Engagement in academic blogs across disciplines

Why do academics blog? An analysis of audiences, purposes and challenges

Why do academics blog? It’s not for public outreach, research shows

SEO Basics: How to Do SEO for Beginners

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Alicia Cintron, PhD

Research Public Communications Trainer & Coach + traveling Scholarpreneur

Welcome! Here you’ll find insight, musings, and thoughts about research, public engagement, communication, travel, and higher education. Have an idea for a topic for us to cover? Shoot us a note
 

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