After the training on Tuesday for peer mentors, I thought it would be helpful to gather some tips that came out from our conversations.  Apologies to my faithful readers (all 2-5 of you) for some repetition from earlier posts, but it’s always good to be reminded.  So, without further ado, my “Top 10 Tips for Peer Mentors”:

(1) Embrace your Digital Nativity

You are comfortable online and in digital environments, so take advantage of the fact that you are not intimidated and that you are flexible.  Use the 24/7 help page on wordpress.com and just play around and have fun.  Soon you’ll be an expert.

(2) Consider your audience

Remember who you are talking to (brand new students) and why (to guide/support them).  Think about what you would have wanted when you were in their shoes.

(3) Speak from your own experience

It’s way more engaging to hear what happened to someone else alongside more generic advice.

(4) Let your personality shine through

While your ePortfolio is a professional space, the blog portion can allow you to cultivate your own voice, where you sound like you and like the expert peer that you are.  This is also where catchy titles can come in handy.

(5) Proofread and follow grammar conventions

Even though we are used to using certain shortcuts online, your ePortfolio and blog should follow English grammar conventions.  Use the spell check feature above the posting box.  You might even ask each other to proofread your posts before they go up because it’s sometimes easier to catch someone else’s mistakes.  If you notice errors or typos after your post, edit them right away.

(6) Use links strategically

One of the coolest aspects of blogging is the ability to use hyperlinks in the body of your posts/pages.  You can use them for humor (ex: this is me when I see you all excited about blogging) or as a way of providing more information than you have the space or inclination for (ex: this is the article I referred to about studying abroad in the UAE).  When you insert a link, try to remember to set it to open in a new window, so people don’t navigate away from your post and then get sucked by YouTube, never to return.

(7) Keep your posts short and focused

It can be tempting to try to take on a huge topic, like how to manage your time in your first semester, in one post.  However, it is more helpful to break that down into subtopics and have a bunch of short posts addressing specific needs.  Try to make your posts in the 300-400 word range.  If you feel yourself going over, divide it into two posts.

(8) Schedule posting into your life

MaryBeth does a great job of always posting at the same time and always weekly (me, not so much).  However, even if you can’t commit to posting at the same time every week, try to plan times that would be convenient for you.  It’s important that you have lots of posts and recent posts if someone stumbles upon your blog — otherwise you might lose them.

(9) Insert images, sound files, and videos

Besides hyperlinking, the ability to insert other types of media is another way blogging is different from other types of communication.  This is something I need to improve on, but posting pictures, audio and video files is a good way to keep people engaged.  If you can imagine it, for the most part, you can do it.

(10) Promote your blog

If you really want to get readers, you should post your blog on facebook, red rover, and any other social networking platform you use.  You might consider making business cards with your blog on it, or adding the url to your email signature.  MaryBeth’s experience is a prime example of how it can take a while to build up an audience, but through promotion and perseverance she now has about 150 consistent views.


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