....I blog and I understand

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I blog and I understand. - Confucius (almost)

In early April this year, this blog quietly crossed the threshold of 5 million views. This was not an earth shattering event, nor were lives changed, or kingdoms overthrown. But reaching 5 million views was a personal - and a significant - milestone for me.

When I started blogging around seven or eight years ago, I set out to share my thoughts with a small community of my own colleagues and friends. I didn't intend - nor did I strive - to achieve a publishing platform that would be so widely read. Nor did it happen overnight. Over the past few years I have mainly written about ideas that interest me. I have shared some run-of-the-mill teaching experiences. I have written about things that have surprised or challenged me. Occasionally I have written provocative pieces designed to stir up heated discussion, and now and then I have also turned my hand to satire. Some of my posts have dealt with emerging or exotic new technologies that I believe will have an impact on education. I have also featured interviews with thought leaders in education, and I have shared a number of videos, slideshows and links to resources produced by my own hand, or by others whom I respect and value. I have always tried to ground my posts in research or successful and proven professional practice. Some of my most popular posts have been incorporated into my new book which was published by Crown House just a few weeks ago.

Across the years, my top five posts so far have been: Fire and Brimstone (>92,000 views, went viral when linked to a certain web image), Teaching with Twitter (>56,000 views and featured twice on the BBC News website), 7 reasons teachers should blog (>39,000 views and retweeted almost 1000 times), The Meaning of Pedagogy (>33,000 views) and A Convenient Untruth (one of my most controversial posts with more than 30,000 views).

It is gratifying to think that every time I publish a new post here, it has the potential to reach between 3-4 thousand readers in a single 24 hour period. Why this blog has become so popular and has maintained its success for so long, I really have no idea. But I can speculate. I use a specific formula each time I write, usually accompanied by a snappy title, always an evocative image, and most importantly, a concise but usually thought provoking message that can generally be read through in about 5 minutes. I usually include a handful of hyperlinks which readers can click on to drill down and explore further if they wish to read more and have the time to do so. It's a formula I have kept to for the last 4-5 years and it seems to work. I also try to engage with readers' comments and try to respond quickly to as many as I can in the time available. Many 'guides to successful blogging' articles say much the same thing - that these are useful principles to follow.

I will continue to write regularly on this blog for as long as I have an audience for my ideas. I would probably still continue to write and publish regularly even without the audience, because as I write down my thoughts, I find they become more concrete, and I begin to understand more clearly what I am trying to express. But the audience does help to focus my mind and keep me honest. So, a big thank you to all those of you who continue to read and support this blog. To all those who re-blog share and repurpose this content, and to all those who retweeet, or otherwise amplify, translate, like or comment on this blog - thank you! I hope you continue to partner me as I share my thoughts - as ever your comments are very welcome to keep the dialogue going!

Photo by GFlores on Wikimedia Commons

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....I blog and I understand by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Hana Tichá said…
Congratulations! The number of views is stunning and it’s well-deserved. I agree that the key to success is to write about things that interest you. The rest is a mixture of various ingredients which finally create a perfect recipe. Also, I notice that some blogs have this kind of human touch, which you can feel from every word and every image, as well as from the dialogue the blogger encourages...
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks Hana, I try my best to write in an accessible, and hopefully conversational style in many of my posts.
Hi Steve, your formula is every effective! Once I have finished my masters I intend to blog more, at the moment it is too easy to get distracted, hence I am here and not reading what I should be! I will look forward to reading more of what you write. Keep going it is obviously working...
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks Elizabeth. Do tweet the links to your blog posts when you publish them. ... and all the best with your Masters studies!
This was inspiring. I used to blog all the time, somehow I seem to have dropped the ball and I miss it.
This helped.
Thank you!
(great blog btw)

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