It’s Tel Tales birthday today and we’re celebrating 2 years of blogging. 2 years – that’s a big achievement for us, in the past blogging was never our forte as a team – but this time, with Tel Tales, we’ve stuck to it – so what have we learnt in the last 2 years as a group of novice bloggers and how has this time been different from our previous attempt?
Raising our profile
In early 2016, we were thinking of ways to raise our profile within the University. We are a long standing central service, but we offer much more than Moodle support, as a bunch of talented individuals with an array of experience and expertise, we felt this was often unknown and we also weren’t too good at voicing our achievements.
Building a blog site seemed like the perfect platform where as a team, we could all contribute and write posts journalling our adventures in technology and education.
As a team we had reservations, we had quite a few failed blog attempts in the past and this had knocked our confidence, which I talked about in my first blog post Why Blog? For some members of the team, blogging came naturally and were able to write posts with ease. For others writing a post for all to read was quite a scary concept and putting pen to paper was difficult. As this was a team blog and we wanted everyone to feel comfortable and happy to post, we knew that the project would need planning, organisation, ongoing management and time to be a success.
Tips for setting up a team blog
Here are some of our tips for starting a team blog:
- Communicate the goals and focus of the team blog – from the offset, as a team, we discussed what we would like to include in our blog site, things such as events we’d attended, projects that we were working on, useful information about the technologies people in the University were using, and topical news that had interested us.
- Develop a team blog style guide and author guidelines – we put together some guidelines as to the style of the posts i.e. sizing of headers, images, copyright, referencing etc so that the posts were consistent although written by multiple people.
- Choose an appropriate team blog tool – we choose WordPress as our blogging tool and created each member of the team their own user account so they had ownership of their own posts.
- Have team editors/proofreaders – we delegated the proofreading and editing of the posts to 3 members of the team – so all posts after written in draft were checked by them before going live.
- Create an editorial/blog post calendar – we created a calendar so that we could organise and schedule when posts were going live and keep an ongoing spreadsheet of all posts to keep track of what stage they were at.
- Offer collaboration and communication tools to contributors – all members of the team have access to Slack where we can discuss the blog posts and Google Drive where we structure and manage all the posts. Everything is clearly structured in folders and everyone has access to everything.
- Provide feedback to contributors – feedback regarding the blog site as a whole and feedback regarding posts are either discussed on Slack or directly to the contributor.
- Recruit guest bloggers – we have had several members of staff from other departments contribute to the site which has been great in networking with other departments.
- Repurpose content without losing quality – when times have been a little quiet we have been able to repurpose content that is topical – so we are never short of finding content for our site.
- Remain flexible – I think flexibility is key to running a team blog site, nothing is set in stone, so we are able to accommodate for any obstacles that we’ve come up against over the last 2 years.
Build it and they will come
We did build it and they did come, but slowly. It’s easy to assume with blogging that once you’ve built the site then that’s it, ta-dah job done. We’ve learnt however that this isn’t the case and we’ve had to be patient and continue to be, building an audience doesn’t happen overnight.
What’s in store for the next 2 years
It’s uncertain where Tel Tales will reside in the future, we may become part of the University of Portsmouth website, however we still hope to have a presence in one shape or form. We continue to raise our profile in other forms of media, Tom L has created some Podcasts on Tel Tales, so if you haven’t listened to those yet then check them out. Tom is also looking at our YouTube channel and will be providing some new videos on there. Shaun is working on our Instagram account, so make sure to follow us if you’re a keen Instagrammer.
I’m immensely proud of the team and everyone that has contributed to the site, especially those that have found it difficult to write for an online environment but have still given it a go! Big thanks to Mandy who’s our team organiser and keeps us informed of who’s doing what and to Stephen, Alana and Tom C for being our team proofreaders, Tom L and Shaun our social media bods and for Will and Mike for all their help behind the scenes with the ‘techy stuff’ and thank you to everyone in the team that has contributed to Tel Tales. Thanks to all our followers too – we hope you enjoy reading our posts!! Cheers everyone!
Wishing you all a very ‘Happy Easter’ from the TEL team.
If you would like to feature as a guest blogger on Tel Tales then please get in touch and we can discuss ideas with you 🙂