An abundance of entrepreneurial spirit is one of the defining features of charter schools. Like many small businesses, when faced with a challenge, charter school leaders tend to roll up their sleeves and solve the problem themselves — no excuses!
Are you an entrepreneur at heart, too? Are you unsatisfied with your neighborhood schools and want to organize your community to attract an outstanding charter school? Or, are you proud of the charter school your kids attend and want to spread the word to other families? Blogging is a great way to spread your message. I maintain a blog about charter school news in San Antonio, and I can share some tips to help you get started.
Your first step is picking a blogging platform. Popular free sites include WordPress, Blogger, and Tumblr. Create an account, choose a name for your blog, and tell your story on the “About” page. Choose a blog theme that you find attractive and customize it with photos. If you need more help, check out some how-to books at the library, sign up for a community education class about blogging, or seek out mentorship from a social group for bloggers.
Next, focus on your subject. There are so many developments with charter schools nationally; keep your blog primarily local so you don’t get overwhelmed. If you see a story about charter schools in your local paper, post a link on your blog and offer your own commentary on it. Remember: if you cut-and-paste from another website, be sure to set it off with quotation marks or italics and provide a link back to the original site.
Besides your local paper, there are many other sources for blog post ideas. Sign up for the email lists from the Texas Charter Schools Association and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Follow mom blogs and political blogs. Look for Facebook pages and Twitter feeds about education news. You can even do your own original reporting: go to meetings and events, take photos and videos, then share it on your blog.
Part of the fun of blogging is making it personal. Share tips about kid-friendly activities for all families—charter school, public school, or home school. What is your special expertise? Whether it’s recipes, crafts, fashion, sports, books, or pets, there’s room on your blog for an occasional off-topic post that makes your blog unique. Remember to be an ethical blogger: If you accept free samples of products, disclose that to your readers.
Once you have your topics planned out, think about your schedule. Writing, like so many things, gets easier if you make it a habit. Is there a particular time of day or day of the week when you are more likely to have a quiet moment to write?
After the blog is up and running, it becomes a focal point for advocacy. Tell your friends about your blog and invite them to sign up for updates. Link your blog to other social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Build up an electronic mailing list using a tool like MailChimp or Constant Contact. (Remember, do not spam: never add anyone to your mailing list without permission.) Make business cards and flyers. Host an event — a playdate, a story time, a craft session. Team up with other parents to take action, such as writing letters to your representatives or testifying at a hearing. Your growing group of readers and followers will become a source of ideas and inspiration.
So, do you have the can-do, entrepreneurial spirit to start a blog to advocate for charter schools? Like starting a business, blogging is rewarding in so many unexpected ways. New challenges will inspire you to solve problems and build new skills every day. Blogging is not a solitary activity: it will bring you closer to other people who share your interests and help you on the path to success. And, every post you write brings you a step closer to reaching your goal.
Guest Blogger, Inga Munsinger Cotton, San Antonio Charter Moms
About Inga: I am a lawyer, a nerd, a wife, and a mother of two. My son goes to an excellent public school, but we had to move and leave the historic neighborhood that I had called home for over 20 years. I started a blog to help bring more charter schools to central San Antonio so that other families can stay and raise their children in San Antonio’s historic neighborhoods.