Blogs can provide youth groups, agricultural cooperative and farming business with an easy and free online presence.
The recent success of the Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition (YoBloCo Awards) shows the importance of blogging to young people in ACP countries. Young farmers, agribusiness entrepreneurs and rural cooperatives also
use blogging platforms to inform clients of the latest products or notify associates of upcoming events.
Developing a dedicated website requires specialised skills and is expensive to build and maintain for many organisations. Blogs, on the other hand, are free to set up, easy to maintain, use advanced social sharing features, and provide a convenient way for individuals and businesses to develop an online presence.
Several blog-publishing services offer user-friendly interfaces and comparable functionalities. One of the most popular is WordPress.com. Others include Blogger, Posterous and Solidaire du monde.
WordPress is an open source project, offering two types of blogging services. Its worpress.org software can be downloaded and installed on servers. The other option is to visit www.wordpress.com, a web-based service where you can set up a blog quickly, for free, and with no specialist software installation required. The advantage of this is that you can access your blog from any computer or mobile device that has an internet connection.
As with most other blogging services, Wordpress offers many options to populate, manage and tweak your blog after you have signed up. When you next login, you will see a ‘dashboard’ where you can find links to add new posts, view statistics and authorise comments.
To decide on the look of your blog, use the ‘appearance’ menu to search the selection of themes. Themes allow you to choose the combination of colours, layout and design to complement the general topic of the blog.
The appearance of your blog can be further improved by adding or removing ‘widgets’ (also available from the ‘appearance’ menu). The available widgets vary according to the theme you choose, but most will allow you to add a calendar showing the dates of previously published posts, a list of categories or most popular posts. Select widgets that you think might be useful and relevant to your readership, and use a limited number (5–6) so your blog can load faster on slow connections.
You can add documents, pictures and videos to posts from your computer by clicking the appropriate buttons on the new post page, or by uploading them to your media library by clicking ‘media’ from the dashboard page. The media library can be more useful when you have media that you want to reuse on other posts, as you can then access the photos or videos from any computer.
When adding additional material from other sources, make sure you have the rights to use and cite the original author accordingly. Using unauthorised copyrighted material could result in your blog being taken offline.
To make your content easy for others to discover, use tags and categories, either from the post menu or on a new post page. Tags are keywords that give potential visitors an idea of what your post is about. Consider the keywords you would use to find a similar post, and use them as tags. Keep tags simple and relevant, and to a low number (5 to 7 is adequate). Add them in the ‘add tags’ section under each post, separated by commas.
Categories are used to define the broad groups to which your posts belong. They are more general than tags and help people find your blog based on its broader topics. For example, if you write a post about using cell phones to get agricultural market information in Jamaica, you could use tags such as cell phone, market, Jamaica and farm, and use the categories agriculture and technology. The categories are more like a table of contents with the tags being keywords in the index.
Readers will return to your blog regularly if you keep its contents focused on the same few recurring topics. Tags and categories can be reused the need to create them each time you produce a post.
Gaining new readers and maintaining returning ones is essential for your blog’s success. It is better to start promoting your blog when you already have a number (4 or 5) of published posts to give readers an idea of what your work is about.
One good way to promote your blog is to visit other related blogs, add helpful comments and join in discussion forums. This will help to get your name known and increase the number of links back to your blog. To keep people interested, publish at least three blog posts per week. Visitors will then bookmark your site and come back regularly.
Bloggers rely heavily on social networking tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, Delicious and reddit, to promote their posts. Promote new posts through the various social media sites and make sure you add the widgets, such as the Facebook ‘like’ widget, to make it easy for others to share your posts.
Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition
Solidaires du monde