We'd love you to write a post to share your experiences of working in music education, discuss inclusive practice, or seek advice. Here are some tips to get you started:
1) Think of your audience
Before you get started, think about who’ll be reading your post. If you’re posting on the Youth Music Network, your audience is mostly going to be adults who are involved in music-making projects with children and young people. What will they be interested in? How much do you need to explain?
The Youth Music Network is a community for people and organisations supporting young people's lives in music. The site is run by Youth Music, a national charity investing in music-making projects that help children and young people aged 0-25 to develop personally and socially as well as musically. Many people who use the site work for projects funded by Youth Music - but you don't have to be a Youth Music grantholder to be part of the community (find out more about applying for Youth Music funding here). Inclusive practice is central to the Youth Music Network community - you can find out more about what this means on our Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England page.
It's likely that readers will have similar experiences and knowledge to you - but try to avoid jargon, and explain things as easily as you can. If you're including abbreviations, spell them out in full the first time you use them. For example, you might write 'Music Education Hubs (MEH)' in your first paragraph, and then you could refer to them as 'MEHs' or 'Hubs' afterwards.
2) Pick a good title
The title of your post is very important. It’s your chance to encourage people to read it! It’s best to be clear rather than cryptic. If I'd called this blog ‘A few thoughts…’ or 'Hello', would you have read it?
Imagine you’re using a Google to look for a post like the one you’re writing. What words would you type? Those are words which should appear in your title.
3) Choose appropriate photos and give credit
Make sure the image you use is one you have permission to post. If you’ve been asked to credit a photographer, you could write this information in italics at the beginning or end of your blog.
You may encounter copyright issues if you borrow an image you’ve found on the internet. If you haven’t got a suitable image, a good thing to do is to search for pictures tagged with Creative Commons licences on Flickr.
Make sure you add a description of your photo in the alternate text box which appears once you've uploaded the image. This text will be used by screen readers, search engines, or when the image cannot be loaded. I've described the image attached to this blog as 'Young musicians playing drums'.
You can also add videos and audio files into your post by adding them into the Article Video (YouTube or Vimeo) or Soundcloud Embed fields.
4) Add headings and bold text
People tend to skim when reading online, and long paragraphs of text can be off-putting. Make your blog posts easier to read by breaking them up with headings, and highlighting the most important points in bold.
Page headings and bold text are the parts of your writing most likely to get picked up by search engines, so make sure they are informative and that headings accurately describe the section which follows.
5) Create relevant links
Links make your post more useful. If you’re writing about something like the National Plan for Music Education, add the link so that reader doesn’t need to take the time to search it for themselves.
If you paste a web address (URL) into the text of your blog like this: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-importance-of-music-a-nat..., it will automatically turn into a clickable link. But you can also add hyperlinks, where highlighted words go through to a link.
How to add a hyperlink on the Youth Music Network:
- Copy the URL of the page you want to link to
- Type the text you want to hyperlink
- Highlight this text by clicking where you want the link to start, holding down your left-hand mouse button (on a PC), and dragging it across to where you want the link to end
- Click on the Link button, which has an image of a chain and a plus sign. A pop-up box will appear
- Paste the link you’ve copied into the box marked URL
- Press OK. Your text should now be hyperlinked.
As with many of these tips, links help your blog to appear in search engines. The more sites that link to your blog, the more popular search engines judge your blog to be. So once you’ve written a great post, promote it! Add a link to it from your own website, your newsletters, and your Twitter and Facebook accounts.
6) Make it easy to read with lists and bullet points
Text on a screen is much easier to read when it has more space around it. Bullet points and numbered lists are a great way of breaking up your information and creating easy-to-follow instructions.
7) End by starting a conversation
The Youth Music Network is an online community, and we give our members the chance to give their opinion on each post. The best way to encourage comments is to end your post with a question, encouraging users to reply (see below).
8) Save and check your work
Writing posts can be quite time-consuming, and you may want to save your work and come back to it later. The best way to do this is to scroll down to the bottom, and untick the box next to Published. Then press the Save button at the bottom. This will save your blog as an unpublished draft. When you next log in to the Youth Music Network, the draft will be in your profile. Don't forget to publish it once you've finished!
Looking for inspiration? Take a look at the most popular Youth Music Network posts of 2019.
Have you got any other useful blogging tips? Let us know what’s worked for you in the comments.
Photo by Ivan Gonzalez, from the Live Music Now SEND Inspire Training Programme.