5 Lessons from Blogging about My School

In nine months,

  • 145 e-news subscribers and 15+ blog subscribers via RSS
  • a few comments on every post
  • a prominent position on Loyola’s leading community at Orkut
  • links from Loyola bloggers,
  • 19,000+ pageviews, and
  • 3,750+ absolute unique visitors.

In the first year of blogging about the school, could I have asked for greater acceptance and recognition?

As year 2007 ends, here are a few lessons, sweet and sour.

  1. Loyolites are hungry for news about the school, teachers and old boys. Even though the biggest discovery of my blog was probably the composer of the school song, it got overshadowed by two news reports: Deepa Madam Moves On, and IAS Exam: 3 Loyolites in Top 10. There is a lesson in this for Loyola Old Boys’ Association, the school, and other ventures based in Trivandrum.
  2. Readers come to read online, not act offline. Your blog can pump out ideas (like digitising school magazines, Great School Campaign), but you should not expect readers to take the initiative for implementing them. At best, readers will do activities that can be done online; primarily, supplying intellectual inputs. They don’t lead, they follow. For getting things done, you have to write to people personally, ask for funds privately, and mobilise action offline. Like the Joseph Uncle Campaign. You will get support, not leadership. The blog is in a wired enclave.
  3. You can’t please everybody. One of my beliefs when I started the blog was that the content would be attractive to not only Loyola old boys, but also old boys of other schools in India, especially Kerala. People who read about the school song will think of their own school song, people who read about Loyola’s buildings will think of their own school building, and to go back to their school, they will come to this blog, that was my train of thought. The meagre feedback I sought from non-Loyolites suggests that they do not find the blog attractive. “You are writing about your school, and I can’t identify with it,” said one. But the bigger surprise was that there were Loyolites who did not find this blog appealing. Why? The language is not casual (none of the “Hey dude! Gr8 to c ya”), the matter-of-fact tone is dry, there is no nostalgic “Loyola is great” tom-tomming, the topics are too intellectual…you can add your grouse to the list.
  4. Blogging steals time, like television. As a blogger based far away from Loyola, I knew that I could not channelise a news river from the school. That’s why the blog was to revolve around the social history of the school, rather than what was happening in Loyola now. Blogging about people, places and the past wouldn’t be difficult, right? How wrong I was! Writing a new and interesting article every fortnight drains your energy and time. Replying to comments, answering queries via e-mail, planning and co-ordinating specials (like on Fr Pulickal), writing posts…phew! Where’s the time to market and monetise this blog, to make it self-financing?
  5. To be a happy, amateur blogger, find a niche and be regular. I chose Loyola’s social history as the pivot for my blog, after months of research on blogging. When I floated the idea, there was silence from some quarters and opposition from others; not even one person welcomed the choice of topic. All wanted me to blog, but friends (including Loyolites) and relatives groaned and asked, “Haven’t you grown out of this Loyola thing?” But within months, the same friends and relatives were applauding. Whatever success the blog has achieved is mainly due to (a) the niche topic; (b) the regularity of postings; and (c) basic writing techniques.

I enjoy every interaction that arises via the blog and thank all of you for your encouragement through online visits and offline phone calls, blogpost comments and e-mails. Two among you have been regular and unwavering in your support from day one — Jiby (online) and Roshen (offline). I cannot thank you enough. Syam appears villainous on screen but is a hero backstage — he scouts energetically for the Loyolites’ Blogs section.

My blogging goals for 2008

  1. Deliver good content and regularly.
  2. Build the great school campaign and spark a few more ventures.
  3. Make the blog self-financing, at least to pay the webhosting charges ($10/month).
  4. Do all this more efficiently, i.e. in less time.

11 Comments

  • Hi Ashok,
    Just thought I’d mention something I noticed. If you go to Google’s Blog Search and type in “Holy angels trivandrum”, the first page of results is composed almost entirely of blogs by Loyolites.
    I think you can take part of the credit/blame for this.

  • @Ashok
    Thanks for the kind words 😀
    I try 😀

    @Aju
    not true. I was googling other stuff(In connection with a prasanth teaching me about how google rates priorities)
    And then i saw this and tried. Dosn’t really do exactly as you say.

    However
    I once got a comment on my blog from two ladies of HAC Saying they came across mine while seearching their school and liked this one 😀

    hmm has its advantages 😀

    I take credit 😀

  • And does my clicking on all those AD’s help you ashok chetta ?

    and i should remember not to give my name here 😀 its putting my page 2nd on google search somtimes 😀

  • Aju, the results seem to vary across computers. But yes, Loyolites’ blog dominated on my results page too. Incidentally, my blog does not figure at all in the search results for “loyola school trivandrum” at Google’s Blogs section. Hmm…guys, stick to Google’s main search 🙂

    Syam, of course it helps if you click on the advts here. This week, my blog earning for 2007 doubled to $4 — looks like you are the reason!

  • Hi Ashok,
    The viewership for your blog has been upto the levels I had expected right from the time you told all of us in your website that you were planning to start a blog on Loyola. The topics have been varying in content and intent which makes the readers anxious to know the “next one”. Keep up the good work.

  • The stats often leave me confused. So, truth be told, I don’t rely on them much. On the other hand, the number of e-news subscribers is a more reliable and simple indicator, even if it does not tell us how many subscribers open the mail and read 🙂

  • “How wrong I was! Writing a new and interesting article every fortnight drains your energy and time.”

    @Ashok

    That is because of extensive research that you put in.
    People are more accustomed to casual write-ups in blogs and serious stuff elsewhere.
    I am only an occasional reader! Gee

    I find point number 2 appealing, I was JS and editor for one year. I found LOBA enthusiasm on the lower side and being my most difficult time on the personal side of my life, I withdrew from the old boy spectrum without regret.

    Let me see where the great school campaign reaches. For now I sit and watch(no acting offline).

  • Vishnu, am I that “serious” and high-brow in this blog? I mean, you got that impression from my offline pretention, right? 🙂 Yes, I hope to continue research-oriented blogging — it is exhilirating as much as it is draining.

    Offline action can largely be done only when you are in Trivandrum. But yes, I am not surprised by your waning LOBA enthusiasm.

    IF you wish to be a frequent reader, I suggest you use Google Reader or similar free RSS software. That way, you will be alerted to any new write-up here as soon as the article appears.

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