You’re sitting in front of your computer, hoping that the ideas start flowing but nothing happens. You know that your school’s website is due for new content, but you don’t know what to write about.
We’ve all been there, and actually I’m there right now, stuck on how to start writing a blog that’s essentially about tackling writer’s block. If that isn’t ironic, then I don’t know what is.
The good news is, I’m here to help you generate high quality blog content, and dive into how to consistently create it without stress and frustration.
Your school’s blog can be one of your most powerful marketing tools. But only if you approach it with the same dedication, resources and commitment you do every other element of your marketing strategy.
If you want your school blog to make a serious impact where it matters (enrolments and enquiries) you need to put effort into your content, this way you will reach further and more effectively.
Blogging is no longer just for companies and influencers. Every line of business can benefit from blogging and not having an active blog is a missed opportunity for your school.
Blogging is an inexpensive way to drive valuable traffic to your website. By sharing informed, entertaining, and relevant content you will establish your school as a market leader, which builds trust and confidence around your school brand. Blogs are some of the most commonly shared writing pieces as well, giving your school the chance to expand your reach and capture a greater audience.
1. Write for your audience.
Your blog won’t gain traction if you don’t know who you’re writing for, and you don’t create content that they want to read. Is your blog for students, or parents? What do they care about? What are they interested in? What do they want to know from you?
John Monash Science School posts consistently and provides great resources for parents, students, and alumni alike.
As far as topics go, listen to your audience. People are open to tell you what they want to hear, for better or for worse. Crowdsourcing questions will give you an excellent starting point for topics.
Your admissions office, teaching staff, and coaches are all in contact with your target audience and fielding questions daily — pool these questions together and you’ll see what people are commonly asking for.
Perhaps parents are concerned about their first year students? Maybe they are weary of their child joining a sports team because of a potential decline in their grades? Maybe they aren’t sure if your school would benefit their child?
2. Focus on outstanding content.
From an eye-catching image to a well-written call-to-action, each element of your blog post should be carefully considered. Don’t throw words on a page to meet a deadline. Take the time needed to create a blog post that’s well thought-out, compelling, and relevant.
Both blog posts and news articles should inform, captivate, and in some cases even entertain; however, they do differ in a few ways:
- Blogs should generally be more general (with more nuanced ties back to your school), while the news is going to be specific to events happening at your school
- Blogs often aim to answer a specific problem or question, news posts typically are an update on a current event or significant announcement
- Blogs should be timeless, news should be now. If you’re writing a recap of the first week of school, that’s news. If you’re writing about your longstanding first week of school traditions, then that’s a blog post.
News articles are a great way to add updated content to your site while engaging your school community. People love to know what’s going on; having a place to update students, staff, parents, and your local community will open the doors to creating more involvement amongst everyone.
3. Create content frequently.
Because news is now, create content as frequently as possible. You always want your school’s website to be the main source of information.
As a general rule of thumb you’ll want to create at least one new blog post a week, and have it be at least 1000 words. Deep breathes. Don’t let that word count scare you, it’s completely achievable! Even one blog post every two weeks will put you ahead of the pack. (For starters, less than half of schools even have a school blog!)
We believe it’s possible for schools to post at least once per week when focusing on these four categories for news as content:
- Upcoming Events: Create content around your upcoming calendar. By informing your audience about your events you are inviting them to become more involved in their community. Kyneton High School uses this method well to share their upcoming School events.
- Summarise Past Events and Successes: You may have talked about your event a few weeks ago as an “Upcoming Event” but feel free to highlight the event after the fact. Share a few key takeaways of the event with the folks that couldn’t make it there. Within this category, you’d also want to include accomplishments of teachers, students, or your school.
- Recurring Content: Having a recurring story will help fill up your content calendar with some “defaults” and alleviate some of the stress of creating content for your site. Use this area to showcase a person in your school community on a weekly or monthly basis (Student of the Week, Athlete of the Week, Teacher of the Month).
- Local and National News: It’s important to not only focus on your school’s news, but also how the local or national news will impact your students. What’s happening in the world around your school and how does it affect your audience?
Adding in blog posts and news stories to your content calendar will help keep your website up to date, informative, and fun. Plus, much of this content can be used in your admissions, marketing and development campaigns. Because your teams can use it, make it a team effort in developing it!
Wondering if your digital marketing activities are effective? Our Digital Marketing Health Check can identify any issues in your current marketing, so you can make a solid plan. Fill out a simple questionnaire and we will personally analyse the current digital experience for your prospective users and provide you with a free action plan to increase traffic and boost engagement.
4. Be smart about SEO
Keyword research is a fundamental part of any blogger’s process. It allows you to identify the search terms users are inputting the most, and consequently, determine where your ranking opportunities lie.
You should develop keywords associated with your blog topic and weave them into each post to help your audience find you. Researching keywords can also be a great way to spark ideas for future blog posts.
Your page names and descriptions can increase your rankings, so don’t overlook them either. Your page title and meta descriptions should contain your brand term (usually your school name) and the basic information that a searcher will need to help them decide whether they want to click on the result or not.
Remember, web searches are likely to come in the form of a question so keep this in mind when choosing a title for your blog. To increase search engine optimisation (SEO) and website traffic you may want to pick a title that mimics the question that your blog is answering.
If you work with partners in your community, by publishing news relating to them on your website or linking to their business on your website, you might want to consider asking them for a backlink to your website. Being linked to an authoritative, non-spammy external website can have a positive effect on your SEO. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true — having links from non-authoritative, spammy sites can have a detrimental effect on your SEO.
Not exactly sure what SEO means? Or maybe you are not sure how it can help you achieve your goals? If you are new to SEO, it can seem daunting. To get the most benefit from SEO, it is important to understand what it is, how it works, and why it can help you.
That’s why we’ve created this list of frequently asked questions. We’ve done our best to answer the common questions that we’re asked to give you more insight. It’s been specifically designed to help you learn more about digital marketing, the services we offer and what you can expect from working with us. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
5. Close with a Call-To-Action.
Want your audience to take action? Direct them. End your post by inviting the reader to learn more about the topic or to stay connected with you. Further engagement can begin to develop a relationship that is beneficial to your audience and to your school.
The goal of a call-to-action is to encourage further interaction with your school (whether online or in real life), to make readers aware of something you offer (for example, a program or event) and, in some cases, can prompt them to share their information with you.
It’s what takes readers from simply checking out your content and then leaving forever to keeping them connected to your school. A great call-to-action catches readers when they’re interested and engaged, and prompts them to stay that way.
To create a call-to-action that connects with your audience and converts them into loyal readers, prospects, students and donors you should make them:
- Relevant: Ensure the action you’re asking your audience to take directly relates to your school and the content they’ve just read.
- Actionable: Use action words and give the audience something they can do right now. Make it as easy as possible for them to do what you’re asking.
Some power words to try: Join, Access, Discover, Download, Learn, Start
- Direct: Craft your CTA so clearly that the reader will have no questions about what they need to do and what they’ll get from doing it. Less is more; try to keep it under 150 characters.
- Audience-centric: Craft your call-to-action in a way that connects with your target audience. Make sure it takes into account what they care about and the information you know they’re interested in. Ask yourself: Is it about them, or is it about you?
If you’re worried about the Call-To-Action of your website or blog, let us know! We would love to work with you to make sure your website is working towards your goals and providing you with quality traffic.
In summary, creating quality content for your school’s site can come in a variety of topics and different styles. Between blog posts and news stories you will always have fresh topics to write about that will keep your audience engaged and entertained. The content that you publish can give your school a chance to be seen as an industry leader amongst your peers, and will prove why you are the best option for your target audience.
If you want to ensure your blog tells your school story, schedule a time to chat with us.