When it comes to inbound and content marketing, I hear a lot about the same struggle many of our clients are having: they want to write blogs but they don't know what to write about. As a marketer wearing many hats myself — I get it. You don’t always have time to blog two to three times a week, or do thoughtful keyword research or website data analysis. You need those “meat and potatoes” topics: the ones that will really make a difference in your admissions funnel.
After years of blogging (and hundreds of posts later) I can sum up the “meat and potatoes” of blogging into five key categories:
“Best of” lists
But First ... Blogging 101!
Okay, it might be tempting to start right here if you’re starting a school blog...but before we get into the topics it’s important to remember a few “best practices” for blog writing:
Be mindful that blogs are great for addressing frequently asked questions, and not necessarily a platform to directly promote your school.
Blogs that are at least 1,000 words long perform best in search, but you don’t need to stretch a blog to be 1,000 words if you can’t!
Aim to create at least one post a week to keep content fresh and relevant.
Be intentional with your blog title to encourage engagement. (Need inspiration? Download a free copy of our 66 blog title template to create a title that really work.)
Lastly, have fun! Show your brand, use your voice, and build trust and powerful, lasting relationships!
Okay. Now onto our meat and potatoes: the big five blog topics every school should have.
How often do you hear a parent say, “I don’t care what the cost is, my child must go here!”? Probably not very often...would be nice though! The reality is that the price of education is both extremely important, and intimidating.
The average cost of attending a private high school in the U.S. is $14,522 per year, a significant annual spend for most parents. Your goal is to take their worry and turn it into confidence in their financial decision.
How can you bridge the gap between worry and confidence? In a blog!
Common Questions or Comments on Cost
How will I be able to afford this?
Do you offer scholarships?
How is this cost justified?
Is the cost really worth it?
What does the cost of tuition include?
What are the extra expenses I should prepare for outside of tuition?
When you analyze these questions there are two main themes that emerge: Preparing for the cost, and justifying the cost.
This is where your focus in blog writing should be!
You can provide an invaluable service by helping people prepare for the cost and learn some excellent money-saving habits as well as helping them understand how much your school is truly worth!
Make it a point to talk about financial options such as 529 Plans, ways to help save for the future, and the advantages of private school for a child’s success.
Avon Old Farms has done a nice job of addressing those cost concerns in this blog on affording private school.
Once parents feel confident in their financial situation you have eliminated one of your biggest obstacles.
Cost aside, what are some of the other problems your prospective and current students face? Crowdsource to find out!
Spend some time with your admissions, academic, and athletic staff and ask them what they are hearing from parents and students alike for the unique problems that your school may be facing. You can’t address the problems if you don’t know what they are, and who better to relay these problems than the folks on the front line?
These “problems” might be:
Feeling accepted at a new school
Balancing school and personal life
Understanding the admissions process
Moving away from home
In this example from The Quaker School of Horsham, the school lends advice on dealing with child anxiety.
And in this example from Tilton School, the blog shares tips for overcoming homesickness.
By addressing your these topics, you have the chance to admit your awareness of a particular hurdle or obstacle, but also share your solution. Being in control of the narrative around a common obstacle can help build trust in your school.
Download out Posts for Blogs and News datasheet to learn how your school can start blogging today!
When prospective families are making decisions about where to send their child to school, they are likely doing a lot of comparisons — and you can control those conversations. Think about how you could talk about the following on your website:
Public school vs. private school
Charter school vs. public school
Boarding school vs. day school
Co-ed school vs. same-sex school
IB school vs. state-funded
International vs. American school
By creating blog content around comparisons, you are creating a debate that you have complete control over. Yes, the comparison is already out there, but with blog content, you can own the narrative and sell your side!
For example, Avon Old Farms created a tasteful way to tackle comparisons, while highlighting their side.
And this example from The Post Oak School combats the traditional vs. Montessori daycare comparison head-on.
4. “Best of” Lists
Remember magazines? Those paper things that you used to have delivered to your house, or you’d buy at the brick and mortar store that you used to go to? Magazine covers would boast “10 Best Ways to Brighten Up Your Space”, “20 Ways to Change Your Skin for Good”. Magazines were covered in “best of” lists, and we still love them to this day.
While fashion and fitness won’t help your enrollment, the concept is completely transferable. Tap into the mind of a prospective student once again: what are they asking, and more importantly, what are they searching online?
Using lists help with content creation. Think about this in categories (these, or others of your own design!):
1. Academics: Provide helpful tips for the journey from the first school visit to graduation.
- “5 Best Ways to Prepare for Application Deadlines”
- “10 Ways to Create a Confident High School Graduate”
This example from the Tilton School shares five essential skills for success in the world.
And in this example from Friends’ Central School, they share a round-up of essential life skills.
2. Location: Focus on your campus, community, region.
- “4 Best Ways to Get Involved on Campus”
- “5 Must Sees as a Student in Boston”
Tilton School, located in beautiful New Hampshire, shares the top five hikes in their region in this fun blog post.
In another example from Friends’ Central School, this round-up of top ways to enjoy the 4th of July is another example of how blog content can be fun — and doesn’t always have to be school-centric.
3. Problems: Ease worry and concern.
Remember those problems from earlier in the blog? “Best of” lists are another great way to tackle them head on!
“10 Ways to Help you Save for your Child’s Education”
“3 Tips to Help your Student Succeed Socially at Their New School”
This example from Avon Old Farms hits home with advice from the students themselves.
And this example from The Post Oak School rounds up the best back-to-school tips for families.
Your school has a unique academic experience, location, and problems. Use the “best of” method to create a quick-to-digest content that’s jam packed with information.
People look at online reviews for everything! Yelp, Angie’s List, Yelp, Facebook Pages...everything and everywhere! Wouldn’t it be great if you could influence the perception of you school, even if you can’t control reviews?
A quick way to achieve influence is through blog content. Have a post that is created on a regular basis (weekly/bi-weekly/monthly) that highlights someone of something from your school. Use this as an opportunity to showcase the successes of your program.
Here are a few examples:
1. Staff Spotlight
Give the spotlight to a member of your staff who has gone above and beyond. Highlight all that they do for your school. This allows you to show the public what a great program you offer with top-notch staff. You are essentially creating a review of your employees, but on your own terms.
2. Student of the Month
Broadcast what a great school/sport/personal life balance your school encourages. This will hit especially close to prospective parents, they want to see their children do well. ‘Student of the Month’ blogs allow parents to picture that success for their child. Also, having successful students is one of the best “reviews” you can share, that’s who this is all for!
3. Alumni Achievements
Do you have an alumni who is changing the world? Perhaps they’re volunteering to make a difference? Or they’re on the national soccer team? Share their story! Interview the alumni, one of their former teachers, people that worked alongside them. There is no better review for a school than the success of a former student. Be proud of them and proud of the role that you played in their life.
The Haverford Schools blog, The Big Room Blog, has a brilliant blog series featuring a variety of alumni.
Hone in on human’s inherent love for reviews while controlling those reviews in a fact-based way. Your successes have a great voice — allow them to speak for you!
If you are just getting started on your school blog, these five topics to create content, engage with your audience, and tell your story. Most importantly, they are the content that will fuel your content marketing efforts for attracting, recruiting, and retaining more right fit families.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As Finalsite's Director of Demand Generation, Mia plans and executes a variety of inbound marketing and digital content strategies. As a former TV and news reporter, freelance cinematographer and certified inbound marketer, Mia specializes in helping schools find new ways to share their stories online through web design, social media, copywriting, photography and videography. She is the author of numerous blogs, and Finalsite's popular eBook, The Website Redesign Playbook.