If you're looking for a handy, no frills book of suggestions for blogging, this book should meet your requirements. Having been designed as an email course, 30 Day Blogging Challenge, written by Nikki Pilkington, consists mainly of 30 very short articles on different aspects of blogging. Being able to buy the whole lot in the form of a book is excellent for those of us for whom deferred gratification is an alien concept.
Having looked at several "Improve your blog in 30 days" type articles and books, I wasn't holding my breath expecting anything too different, but I was pleasantly surprised. The main stand-out feature is that several of the suggestions made are unusual in the sense that I have not seen them mentioned elsewhere.
For example, on Day 6 we are told to write a blog post saying something nice, whether about a product, a client or whatever. A “nice” idea, although perhaps not one which comes easily to a person like me who, I am constantly told, has gradually turned into a grumpy old man (what's with the "old"?).
Other ideas include taking inspiration from a song (I've used a variation of the idea occasionally myself, and I think it works well), and a number of other suggestions which made me sit up and think "Oh, I hadn't thought of that!" I also learnt about the correct way of using anchor text (the text used for a link), and there is good, easy-to-implement advice on search engine optimisation.
There are some excellent links included too, such as 25+ places to which to submit your blog, in order to promote it, and a handy list of places where you can find free high-quality photos with which to illustrate your blog posts.
I like the fact that the advice is byte-sized. You can open the book at random and find and read a suggestion very quickly. Should you wish to delve deeper into a particular aspect, there is usually a link back to an article on Nikki’s blog. There are also a few longer articles towards the back of the book.
There are a couple of niggly things. Sometimes, especially when you’re somewhere without internet access, the byte-sized chapters with links to a more in-depth article can be a bit frustrating. Also, the section on tags is particularly weak. We’re told that we absolutely must put them in our blog posts, but to find out why you have to buy another book. Still, these are relatively minor concerns.
Does this book have any educational application? If you’re looking for a way of raising your school’s profile through blogging, whether to promote pupils’ work, drum up more interest from parents of current pupils, or to raise awareness of the school’s work in order to attract potential pupils, I think this book would help. Some of the advice would be less relevant in an educational content perhaps than a business one (search engine optimisation comes to mind, although having said that I have sometimes had quite a job finding a school’s website through search engines). On the whole, however, there is a lot of good advice here that could easily be adapted by a school for its own blog.
The book would prove useful, too, for schools that teach pupils about the business potential of blogging as a marketing tool.
The 30 Day Blogging Challenge ebook is available for £5.
This review first appeared in Computers in Classrooms, the free e-newsletter for those with a professional interest in educational ICT. Please also see the review on the Writers’ Know-how website for a slightly different perspective.