Benefits of blogging

Jennifer Hamrick
Thursday 14 April 2016

Blogging: what was once thought of as only a platform for online diaries has now become a powerful tool for businesses, newsgroups, politicians, creative professionals and, more relevantly to St Andrews, academics.

Academics, departments and schools within universities have increasingly used blogs to publish news and events, disseminate research and share expert insights into relevant subject areas.

Some examples of UK university blogs:

  • Study Abroad at Edinburgh Uni blog includes posts from students from around the world about their experience studying at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Cambridge University Press has multiple academic blogs which feature current academic news and commentary, research and journal articles, and resource lists.
  • The Centre of Sustainable Chemical Technologies at the University of Bath has a blog which includes posts from individual academics and alumni about their job or internship experiences, research updates and seminars and conferences.

If your school or department doesn’t already have a blog, now may be the perfect time to launch one.

Why should you or your school blog?

  1. Share and archive time-sensitive information. Rather than including all of your events, conferences and news on your main website (which you have to constantly maintain and update), put time-sensitive information in a blog. Posts will be time-stamped and organised with the newest information at the top. In addition, older posts will be archived. This way, you won’t have out-of-date information or archives cluttering your main site.
  2. Disseminate, collaborate and amplify research. “Blogging should be seen as part of a programme of dissemination and collaboration, and is best used alongside traditional academic outlets (such as journals) as a means of amplifying the reach and potentially the significance and future direction of the research.” – Julie Northam, Bournemouth University.
  3. Increase search engine traffic. The more content you have, the more your site will become indexed in search engines. In addition, Google rewards sites with new content with better visibility, and you can share your posts through social media and newsletters to direct traffic back to your main site.
  4. Share your voice. The main websites for schools and other departments within the University typically use a formal and objective tone. A blog is the perfect platform to share the fun, quirky and unique aspects of yourself or your group. By humanising your image, you will be able to “converse with a wider audience of people than you’d otherwise encounter.” – University World News.
  5. Upload photos and videos. Lots of images and photos on a main site often appear chaotic, and they can slow loading times. They are sometimes time-sensitive or only appeal to one group of readers. Upload photos and videos from specific events to a blog in order to reduce loading times on your main site. Images and videos in a blog will be archived and included with other time-sensitive information.

Blogging has a lot of benefits, including freeing up main website resources, reaching a wider audience, developing brand authority, and collaborative discussion.

In the digital communications team we use our blog to provide updates about our projects and resources and tutorials for University staff, and to introduce complex digital communications topics.

Take a moment to discuss with your colleagues whether information you currently host on your main website might be better as a blog post.

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