We often receive comments about our blog posts. Some ask us to address certain learning management, instructional design, online vs. classroom training and other topics. But others question the value of reading blogs. Here's an example of one email we received:
“I’m a training manager at a local bank, and we’re getting ready to convert a huge portion of our customer service classroom training to online courses. So we’ve been looking for an elearning consulting firm to help us with the conversion process. In our research we’ve noticed that some consultant websites have blogs about training, while others don’t have any. I’m wondering, though, are these blogs really worth reading?”
Our response: You should definitely read as many blog posts as you can from any consulting firm with whom you're thinking about doing business (or, for that matter, any LMS provider, software-as-a-service provider or other business with products or services that you'd like to integrate into your learning platform). It's an important part of due diligence.
If well-written and well-presented, a blog isn’t just a bunch of short essays or lists of tips and techniques: It’s actually a window into knowledge and experience. The blog posts tell you not only what and how much the writers know but how thoroughly they know it. Only thought leaders are confident enough to discuss their ideas with all interested parties.
Six things to consider
Blog posts should offer helpful information and insight, based on the staff's combined decades of experience, that you might otherwise overlooked. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to read a company's blog:
1. Learning while reading: Does the blog regularly offer useful ideas for learning professionals ...or does it merely promote the business?
If the former, you've found an excellent resource of information on a variety of learning topics. Review the posts to see if there's a particular topic you're interested in, or to discover a perspective that you've never considered before. Instead of searching pages upon pages of posts, consult the blog's list of tags and click the ones that will guide you to the posts you want to read.
If the latter, you might review the blog to find details about the company that you can't collect elsewhere on the website. Otherwise, the blog could give you the impression that the firm isn't interested in helping prospective clients become better learning professionals.
2. Frequent posting: Do new posts appear regularly…or only once in a long while?
If the former, you’ve reached a business with a lot of intelligence. The best blogs are those that add new posts at least once a month or more. This frequent blogging behavior means staff members keep abreast of what’s new in their field and know many topics to discuss. Focus on those blogs that are kept fresh with new posts.
If the latter, you might not want to return to their blog frequently in hopes that there might finally be a new post.
3. Ongoing management: Are the posts recent…or did they stop suddenly a few years ago?
If the former, this means a business that's dedicated to constantly training anyone who stops by, both clients and non-clients alike, and that wants them to learn. In this case, try to read each post.
If the latter, it could mean that the business once thought it was a good idea to start a blog, but eventually ran out of steam. Perhaps they didn’t have the time or interest in continuing the blog. As important as the information in these posts might be, the blog itself has become stale because it hasn’t been well-managed. So, you might read outdated blogs only if you have the time.
4. Variety of bloggers: Do several staff members contribute posts…or does just one person (such as the chief learning officer) write them?
If the former, you’ll probably find many people in that firm with plenty of knowledge to share about interactive design, video, classroom preparation and other areas that you can put to good use when developing your next learning project.
If the latter, you might be dealing with only one person to build an entire project (when you'd really like a team). In that case, reading a few posts will give you a good idea of what to expect from the person with whom you may be working.
5. Writing style: Do the bloggers actually know how to write…or does it seem that they stumble to string words together into a sentence?
If the former, they'll know how to communicate well and they'll do the same with you as a client. You’ll learn important information in their blog, and you won’t be confused when you read each post.
If the latter, save yourself a headache or two. Frequent spelling or grammatical errors aren't worth it; just move on to the next prospective company's blog.
6. Social media links: Does the firm do a good job of alerting readers about new posts…or must you search for them on your own?
If the former, they’re certain they've got knowledge to share on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media platforms, They’ll also frequently refer to previous posts in their new posts, in case you wanted to read more about the topic.
If the latter, don’t spend time hunting. The company might not want you to actually find the blog, or even read posts they might not be proud of. And you’ve got better things to do with your time, such as finding a helpful, recent, ongoing, well-written and easy-to-locate blog with multiple contributors.
Do you have a question about our blog or learning blogs in general? Please send us an email.