Blogging 101: Syracuse Univ. Offers Blog Writing Course

May 10, 2011 4:09pm

ABC News on Campus reporter Danielle Waugh blogs: If the stereotype of a blogger is a "guy sitting in his underwear in his mother's basement writing opinions," blogger Sean Keeley is trying to break it. Keeley, 32,  calls himself a "professional blogger." An editor of sports blog sbnation.com, he also maintains two of his own blogs: one about Syracuse University sports called nunesmagician.com, and another about local news in his neighborhood of Freemont in Seattle, called freemontuniverse.com. He spends so much time writing blogs he could teach a course about it. And starting next week, he will. Keeley will be teaching a summer course at Syracuse University called "Blogging for Information Professionals." "It's going to be a course for people who want to blog for a living," Keeley said. "It's not just writing a blog for yourself, but what about writing a blog for a company or corporation? How do you go about making money?" Blogging vs. Reporting Offered through the university's School of Information Studies, also known as the iSchool, it's open to students of any major and is not journalism course. "There's not going to be an attempt to teach journalist approaches to blogging, ethics, and things like that," said iSchool Professor Anthony Rotolo, who proposed the addition of a blogging class into the iSchool's curriculum. Rotolo said the course will discuss how bloggers manage relationships with the media, but will not teach them how to be reporters per se. "I think there's a stigma that [journalists and bloggers] are enemies, when in fact they work hand in hand," Keeley said. "It's a symbiotic relationship between the two." This is how Keeley understands that relationship: journalists create the researched, fact-checked reports and bloggers reference those reports in their posts, providing their own opinions. "I source it and make sure the person who wrote it gets credit, but then I give my own spin on it." Keeley does acknowledge that there are many similarities between blogging and reporting, but he didn't go to journalism school to get his start. Originally a business student at Syracuse University, he graduated in 2000 and moved to Los Angeles to get into screenwriting. "Sometime around 2006 I looked around and realized that blogs were taking off," Keeley said. And his blogs began taking off as well. On average, his SU sports blog receives 400,000 page views and 250,000 visitors per month. When he realized he could support himself with money coming in from his blogs, he quit his day job and became a blogger full-time. Making Money from Blogging "In theory, you can certainly make a lot of money doing it," Keeley said, and monetizing a blog will be one of the main topics in the syllabus. Ad sales is just one way to create revenue. Keeley plans to discuss everything from affiliate programs (joining a larger network of blogs), to editorial sponsorships, to product promotion. And that's just for the "independent bloggers" operating their own websites. With the growing social media industry, there are more opportunities to be hired as a blogger for businesses of all sizes. "One of the best things about this course is that [Keeley] will talk about more than just being the 'lone blogger,'" Rotolo said. "It's also the idea that blogging is becoming important in all companies and organizations." One student enrolled in the class, Kim Brown, currently works as an alumni coordinator with Career Services and was asked to create a blog for them. "For me, personally, it's important because we'll be venturing into the blogosphere here in Career Services, and I don't feel I have the skills yet," Brown said. Building a Blog But before bloggers can cash in, they have to have a following. The other topic in the curriculum will teach students how to be a better blogger, and according to Keeley, it's all about "content, content, content." His advice is to "write as much you can, as often as you can. Make sure your audience knows 'I need to come back 3-4 times a day because I know there will be something new there.'" The ability to create such constant content has to come from passion and interest in the topic. "It has to be something where every morning you wake up and you're excited to write about it," he said. Though it may seem like common sense, Keeley said he's seen a lot of blogs come and go because the initial excitement wanes. His last piece of advice: be yourself. "Readers are savvy," he said. "If you're not funny, you shouldn't try and be funny. Use a genuine voice." For a summer class, the blogging course has high enrollment, at around 20 students. The class will be held during Syracuse's "Maymester," and will meet from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., May 16 – 20. Rotolo hopes the blogging class will continue after this summer, and wants to try and make it an online course offered during the regular academic year.

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