Is your school blogging as part of your digital marketing strategy? If not, you need to be. Nothing engages an audience with schools like a good story, informative post or fun video. And a blog (or vlog, a video blog) is the best place to share your school’s unique stories.
According to HubSpot, blogs can result in a 434% increase in indexed pages and a 97% increase in indexed links. Impressively, companies with blogs produce an average of 67% more leads monthly than companies that don’t blog. By regularly publishing high-quality, relevant content to your prospects and current families, you can:
- Drive enrollment and reinforce retention
- Bolster the all-important word of mouth
- Increase your website’s search engine optimization (SEO)
- Position your school leaders as thought-leaders
- Strengthen your school’s brand by keeping it top-of-mind and
- Give your audience something of value
What a Successful School Blog Is (and Isn’t)
Blogs make for great, effective digital content – exactly the kind that your audience is looking for. Blogs that focus on strategic content can answer your communities’ and prospects’ “pain points,” which are the specific problems they face when considering an independent school like affording it, understanding the application process, determining the value-adds, etc.
Blog posts also give you the important opportunity to share in your voice exactly what distinguishes your school. And you can link the reader to the exact web resources or downloadable content you want them to click on to ensure that they are engaging with your school.
With a school blog, you control the message and showcase the messenger. You can address hot-topic educational issues, highlight a program at your school, speak directly to your school’s culture and much more.
What a blog post ISN’T:
- A list of school events
- Links to your weekly e-newsletter or school magazine
- A compilation of school news only – list these separately and call it “School News”
These things are important digital content, too, just don’t call them a blog. Your blog, not your list of school events and news wrap-ups, is the place to showcase your school’s learning outcomes, mission and core values, distinct voices (including student voices) and thought leaders.
Benefits of Blogging
When you blog regularly – at least weekly should be your goal – you build credibility with your audience as a trusted expert offering helpful information to parents.
Regular blogging also improves your website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization). When you publish a new blog, you add another indexed page to your website, which can increase organic searches and drive more traffic to your website. When you are actively and frequently creating new content for your website, search engine algorithms rank your content higher in the search engine results page (SERP).
You create a trove of content to repurpose on social media, as articles in your school magazine, as links/content for weekly e-newsletters.
You also can convert web traffic into leads with strategic Calls-to-action (CTAs) at the end of your blog post. Any kind of open-ended question works well. Try “Want to read more about <this topic>? Click here.” Link to a relevant post or “Click here to connect with us to learn more about the value of a NAME OF SCHOOL education.” Then drive them to a strategic landing page to request a phone call or appointment.
Read more about how to create effective landing pages.
Crafting Blog Posts that Connect to Your Prospects’ Pain Points
Connecting with your audience or current and prospective families comes down to one thing. Are you addressing their pain points?
Do you know your audiences’ most pressing questions as they consider their child’s education? How can the experts at your school answer these questions? You can find your school’s unique pain points by:
- Reviewing recent exit interviews with graduating students and ANCs (those accepted but not coming) for good topics to address
- Talking to your admissions staff, tour guides and division heads about what issues come up frequently on visits, tours, interviews and parent meetings
- Looking at where your school is experiencing attrition issues
- Asking your college counselors what issues high schoolers and their families are most concerned with regarding college admissions
- Surveying your health staff (nurses and guidance counselors) on what health issues are top-of-mind for families right now
If your middle school needs more students, focus your blog posts on key topics for a middle school audience. You might ask your middle school counselor or tech teacher to write a post on best practices for the social media use for tweens and early teens. Or your middle school dean or head could address the best ways to help a middle school student study and approach classwork. Your athletic director could give tips on the healthiest way (mental health and student development perspective) to approach middle school sports.
Perennial “pain point” topics for any independent school include addressing how to afford a private school education and advice on applying for a school and for financial aid.
Once you make a list of topics to cover, match your experts to the topics. Ghostwriting blog posts for your experts is the best way to manage the message and egos. Start with an interview (in-person, over Zoom or through email) and draft the post for your expert’s review.
Pro tip: ask your interview subject if you can digitally record the interview for ease in transcribing it. It will save you time. Use a trusted transcription service like Rev.com. If the person is particularly good on video, you can create a vlog (no longer than a minute and a half) and link to the larger interview to read on your website – just be clear up front before the interview that a vlog might be a possibility.
Creating High-Quality Blog Content
Your communications and marketing department is very busy, and creating great blog content from scratch can seem daunting. The good news is that you don’t have to start from scratch!
Great content is right under your nose:
- Repurpose graduation and start-of-school remarks by your division leaders and head of school.
- Any alumni speaker series online or in-person can be repurposed as a blog.
- Attend events and take notes, specifically any college counseling events for parents and students and faculty meetings.
- Mine e-newsletters from your head of school or division heads on parenting topics that are top-of-mind and repurpose those letters as blog posts.
- Look at your recent school magazine and republish/repurpose an article that was particularly resonant. This gives you a chance to follow up with the article’s subject/interviewee via email or phone to ask if there is anything additional they’d like to address on the topic.
Think practically. Checklists and “advice” posts have universal appeal. For back-to-school season, ask your faculty and students at your school’s key entry points what their advice is for starting ninth grade, sixth grade, Kindergarten, etc. Or ask teachers for tips on creating great communication between home and school. For these types of posts, include checklists, infographics (easy to make with Canva) and more to keep readers engaged.
Consider the calendar. Research national STEM days (engineering, Hour of Code, etc.) and plan blog posts in advance to coincide with these events. Interview STEM faculty to showcase your school’s programs.
Is there a hot-button topic in the news like school safety or student mental health? Get your experts to weigh in on the topic.
Showcase student writing. Ask your college counselor if there are any standout college essays this year that you could republish with the approval of the student author, of course. You could include a short profile of the student.
Consider a series of posts on a topic, such as student mental health. If your school has various age divisions, you could approach it with age-appropriate experts from your faculty and administration.
Some great Q&As are:
- Preschool faculty kindergarten readiness
- Lower School librarian on tips on reading aloud to your child
- Round-up (several voices) of counseling staff for tips on dealing with age-appropriate mental health concerns for children or from coaches on creating a healthy, child-centered approach to sports
- Advice from your school nurse about keeping children healthy throughout the year at school and at home (with checklist)
- Before FASFA time, tips from your CFO and/or Financial Aid director on how to file the FASFA and stay sane
Need some inspiration?
Independent School Magazine lauded four independent schools for their blogs. Sanford School has an engaging blog that speaks to timely education and parenting topics. Check out what some colleges and universities are doing with their blogs.
Need help with your content? Kalix can consult and/or write and edit content for you. Contact us.