Thursday, November 15th, 2018
10 Years of Blogging - How We Have Survived and Thrived!
10 Years of Blogging - How We Have Survived and Thrived! Financial education needs to be timely and engaging; blogging is an ideal means to achieve this educational goal. According to Pew Research Center's 2018 report, 77% of Americans go online daily. Using University of Illinois Extension's personal finance blog and other well-read blog as examples, we will examine best blogging practices for educators and practitioners who wish to increase the financial knowledge of their audiences. Since November 2013, the Plan Well, Retire Well blog (www.RetireWell.illinois.edu) has had over 350,000 views, approximately 80,600 per year. The bloggers aim to provide relevant, accessible, research-based financial education. Accessibility in this context means embracing flexible approaches that connect us to the communities and audiences we serve - and that includes being on the Internet. A key goal is to develop a writing style that uses relatable, unbiased, sensitive and inclusive language that is easy to read and understand. The overarching objective of the blog is to help people take informed action to improve their financial lives. The blog targets people specifically in Illinois (although it is available worldwide) with a focus on the financial changes and transitions of young adults through the early retirement years. It is most relevant to people with lower to moderate incomes who have earned income. Our goal is to educate readers across the lifespan, as financial knowledge requires lifelong learning. For example, the financial questions of a twenty-year-old are often different from those of someone approaching retirement. Our collaborative blog involves multiple writers, of different ages and backgrounds allowing us to provide an across-the-lifespan blog. Attendees at this session will explore strategies that increase the reach of individual blog posts including building a subscriber-base, using social media and an e-newsletter to promote posts, writing blog post titles that engage readers, and speaking to our audience. Additionally, through a guided goal-setting process, attendees will be encouraged to create action steps to start their own blogs or to increase the reach of current blogs. Join us in our conversation about timely, research-based blogging and explore whether this is an educational tool you'd like to implement.
Questions or Implications for Researchers: What research methods or tools can be used to evaluate the impact of reading personal finance blog posts? What questions should be asked to measure behavior change based on online education, especially education that comes in small bites? Beyond page views, what can be said about the reach of a blog post? How can we use this research to improve blog post writing?