blogs / opinion / Tech

How Do I Decide What to Write About?

I’d like to claim that I pick topics of paramount importance in the tech ed community, the pinnacle of edtech conversations and just must be talked about.

But that’s not true. I select the topics that interest my readers. It’s a pull-through approach rather than push-through.

You-all communicate what you’d like to read about in several ways:

  • comments–though not often. I have many loyal readers, but most don’t comment. That’s OK.
  • Dear Otto–I get many questions through Dear Otto (don’t you love palindromes?). More often than not, they are questions I never considered, like my latest–How Do You Keep Students From Playing with Settings? and my upcoming post What About Teacher Tech Training? (scheduled for April 16th, 2012)
  • click-throughs–those are the links I provide in posts that people click to garner additional information

I’m going to share the statistics from my click-throughs today. Amazingly, I get an average of 38% click-throughs from visitors–i.e., if I have 2,000 visitors on a day, 760 of them click through to one of the links. That tells me I’m providing material of interest to readers.

Here are the top sites you the reader clicked through to so far during 2012:

  1. libraryspot.com
  2. bbc.co.uk/schools/typing
  3. factmonster.com
  4. jonmiles.co.uk/fingerjig.php
  5. kids.nationalgeographic.com
  6. kids.yahoo.com
  7. tvokids.com/framesets/bby.html?game=66
  8. typingmaster.com/individuals/bubbles.asp
  9. abcya.com/keyboard.htm
  10. ivyjoy.com/rayne/kidssearch.html

4-5 of these top click-throughs are from how-to-research posts and 5 from keyboarding posts. When I see this many readers interested in these topics, I know I should write more about them.

How about you–how do you decide what to write?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s editing a techno-thriller for her agent that should be out this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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4 thoughts on “How Do I Decide What to Write About?

  1. Jacqui, I appreciate you sharing how you get your topic ideas. I generally write about something that is of personal interest to me at the time of writing, whether it is due to something I’ve experienced at work or something I’ve read about through Twitter or other blogs. Conferences and workshops lead to some of my blog posts as well – often in the form of session notes or summaries/thoughts on what I learned.

    I had not thought to use blog statistics to help me pick topics, at least not consciously. I like your idea of using click-through data to help find writing ideas. May I ask what tool you use to gather your click-through and other data on visitors to your blog?

    • I think our blogs–yours and mine–have a slightly different focus. I read your posts to stay on top of what’s happening in tech ed–cutting edge, changes, that sort. You are often a featured presenter because of your big ideas and overarching take on the industry. By the time I write about it, it’s with a more reflective eye–how’s it working in my classroom so my readers can gauge how it might work in theirs. Plus, by tracking what my readers are interested in I know what sorts of resources to share.

      Thanks for sharing your strategies for selecting topics. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how we-all get from A to Z?

  2. Oh wow, I am enthralled by that Dance Mat Typing site – I cannot touch-type, I never learned at school. Typing class (with real typewriters!) was only mandatory for a short time, nowhere near long enough to get me to learn. I chose all the science classes after that. Plus I had no idea of how relevant it would become for pretty much anyone. Back then, it was really only the people who were interested in administrative-type careers who seemed to be choosing typing classes.

    I know where all the keys are, and I can type quickly with maybe 3 fingers, often without looking, but I’m not geared to using the right fingers, or all of them.

    Maybe it’s time for me to do some Dance Mat moves!

    • Dance Mat is by far the most popular typing program I put my students on. It’s fun, keeps their attention, makes them laugh. I often have parents tell my they hear their children giggling over their keyboard homework.

      Adults get to pick the typing strategy that works best for them. Lots of us use one finger, two. An interesting factoid: Most adults don’t use all fingers. That’s fine, too. We-all type as fast as our lives require. In my case, I’m slowed by the arthritis in my hands/fingers, but I can almost type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts.

      I’ll let you draw your own conclusions!

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