So, you want to start blogging about life as a SEND parent?
We recently talked about what a difference blogging can make in the world of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND). When you find someone’s blog and you can relate to so many of their posts, it can have a really positive impact, as a reader.
What about as a blogger? So many of the parents I know who blog about their experiences, say it often feels like therapy. There is nothing quite like writing a post, pressing publish and getting lots of parents going “oh yes! This!”. There are also some group blogs for those posts that you want to write but need to be anon. You know the one? When the practitioner, family member or friend says something stupid and you know it will cause a back lash if you write it on your own blog or perhaps it’s about your child and you don’t want them to be identified.
So how do you start to blog?
First of all, let’s look at the different ways you can blog.
- Your own site. Your little piece of the “interweb”.
- We are also seeing a surge of what is called “micro bloggers” (if you thought the world of SEN had lots of acronyms and jargon, wait until you start blogging). Micro bloggers are people who use a Facebook Page or an Instagram account to share their stories. For many, this is a quick and easy way to start.
Tip – Starting with a FB page or Instagram account can also help you to decide if blogging is for you – perhaps you think you have a tonne of posts ready to go and then realise you don’t have the time or inclination to write them.
The one big down side to Facebook or Instagram micro blogs is FB and Instagram control who sees them, they control if the photos are acceptable and gasp, they can even delete the post or the page without warning.
However, this can be a good starting point.
Tip – Write your posts in Word, Pages, One Note, Evernote, etc before you share. This way you have a record of your posts if anything does happen to your page. Also a good store of posts if you decide to set up a proper blog.
When you decide this blogging lark is for you, then what do you do next?
Your own site
This sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. There are several sites out there, set up just to help people to blog.
Both of these allow you to create your own site, for free.
You will need a name. So give it some thought. This was a good post I found about choosing a blog name.
Once you have a name in mind, check if it already being used. If it’s not taken, then check if the social media accounts (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc) have anyone using that name.
Once you have a name you can use, head over to wordpress.com or blogger.com and set the blog up.
Your website address (domain name) will be “blogname.wordpress.com” or “blogname.blogspot.co.uk if on blogger.
What does it all mean?
You’ve probably set it up and come up with a dashboard and thought “what the …….”!! Don’t panic, honestly, it looks much more difficult than it is. Here is a quick guide to what the various items on the dashboard mean.
When you set up the blog, think about a few pages you will need. Blog pages are static pages such as “About Me”, “Contact Me” etc. As a minimum, you need a page for blog posts, a page for About me and a page for Contact me.
This is where you introduce yourself to your readers. Now you may decide to share lots of info about yourself – your name, how many kids, etc – or you may decide to keep it generic and anon (eg. Mum/dad to three children, one of whom has ……) etc. Entirely your choice.
Tip – Think about how you will identify your children on the blog. By initial, with a pseudonym, by a number (child 1) etc? Remember, one day they will be adults and may not thank you for posts you made 10/20 years earlier.
This does what it says on the tin. Add a contact form or an email address for people to contact you.
Tip – A good idea is to set up a gmail email or similar, just for the blog – firstname.lastname@example.org This will help you to ensure your blog emails don’t get caught up with your every day work/home related emails.
You can buy domain names, you can buy hosting so you can really play around with the design of your site, add adverts, buy new themes or email addresses, etc. Believe me, the amount of stuff out there you can spend money on for blogging is immense. However, I would suggest starting with the basics. If you do enjoy it and want to take it further, then we will be sharing some great sites offering courses, advice and tonnes of tips on blogging in the near future.
These are the actual stories/articles you write. So your blog page will be “blogs” but the posts will be “6 things I wish I had known” or “what I’d like to say to my son’s school” or “I got some me time this week”, etc.
Look at your categories and ensure you add a category to each post. This will help people looking at your site. They can see what you write about and choose to look at more posts in the same category.
Tip – if you started with a Facebook page or Instagram account, you can cut/paste your posts into your blog. This will help you to have some posts to start with.
It is always a good idea to think about the different categories you want to cover. So for example, your categories could be “campaign work”, “school life”, “home life”, “diet”, etc
Each post you write should come under a category. Don’t panic if you write something and you don’t have a category for it – your blog will develop as your child does – it is easy to add a new category. However, having a few basics at the beginning will help you when you are thinking of what to write next.
Tags are different to categories. Posts should have one or two categories at the most, but you can add a tonne of tags. Again, it helps people to find specific info on your site. So, for example, if your category is “school life”, your tags may be “teachers”, “EHC Plans” “School Transport” etc. So your reader can find more specific information to search for.
Other things to add:
Email sign up – always good to have an email list. If something happens to your blog, you can contact your readers. If you want to crowd source some views for a post you want to write, you can contact your readers.
WordPress and blogger both have easy sign up “widgets” you can add to your site. WordPress define a widget as “a fancy word for tools or content that you can add, arrange, and remove from the sidebar(s) of your website or blog”
Search bar – These are a great tool. If a friend recommends your blog to someone but they don’t have the link to the specific post, they can use the search bar to find it. You can do the same – perhaps you are trying to find all your posts on a specific subject or just a post you remember writing months ago. Or have you ever found something on Pinterest but when you click on it, it goes to the main site and you have to start scrolling through the posts to find what you came for? Search bars are great.
Learning about blogging is one of the things Pinterest was made for (see, another reason to spend even more hours on there). There are so many posts on Pinterest covering every aspect of blogging, from starting a blog to creating a book from your blog.
I have a few boards you can follow on Pinterest to get you started, if you want to be inspired by other bloggers.
Over to you
So there you go, the very basics of starting a blog.
If you are looking for ideas on how other people blog about life as a SEND parent, head over to our SEND Parent Bloggers page.
If you do decide to go ahead, we’d love to know. You can either share a link to your blog below in the comments or you can email us directly.
If you are already a blogger, maybe you would like to share your top tips in the comments below?
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