Free technology for teachers: Newsletters vs. blogs and social media

A few weeks ago a reader reached out to me for advice on creating a technical tips newsletter for his staff. Specifically, he wanted to know if he should create a blog and then email the posts to staff or just one newsletter would suffice. It was a question I was happy to answer. I shared with him some additional ideas about the newsletter compared to blogs and social media.

Does your whole school want more emails from you?
The first question to consider is does everyone in your school want to send you your technical tips every week or day? The answer is, unfortunately, probably not. So when you think you’re helpful, the reality is that those who don’t want to read your newsletter every week will trash your email before reading it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write it, it means you should consider other ways to distribute it.

One way to distribute your newsletter is to ask people if they want to receive it. You can do this with a simple Google form or a Microsoft form, and then add people to your email account to say yes to a contact group. Another option is to use a tool like ConvertKit that lets you create a sign-up form and automatically add people who sign up to your mailing list. I shared the details of how to use ConvertKit in this April blog post.

Create a blog or general website
Again, just because everyone in your school doesn’t want you to email them every week doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write a weekly tech tips newsletter. You’re going to create some great information that everyone in your school will want or need at some point. If you only use email, you’ll need to dig up your email to find the tip you wrote in September to share with anyone who needs information in April.

Write the content of your newsletter on a simple blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger then grab that content and email it to those who want to be part of your weekly mailing. Then when someone on your mailing list asks you for help, you can simply send them to your blog where they can search or you can send them a link to a specific blog post.

What about social media?
Yes, you have an archive of social media posts, but good luck searching through that archive in an efficient way when someone asks you a question in March that you addressed by a tip you posted in late August.

So if you enjoy the process of posting on social media, go ahead and post your tips on your favorite social media platforms. But if you specifically try to reach people at your school, I don’t want to waste my time like that. (Full disclosure: I’m rather burned out on social media and slowly severing ties with it).

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