May 4

JETAA NY Learning to Blog Workshop: Part 2


I ran the second “JETAA NY Learning to Blog Workshop” last Wednesday evening, April 29 in the back of Cosi on 31st & Park, not knowing quite what to expect.  It turned out to be a lot of fun and everyone found it helpful and productive.  (Click here to read about the first one.)

  • We covered the basics of blogs (what they’re good for; advantages and disadvantages of WordPress, Blogspot, Blogger, etc.; posts vs. pages; using RSS feeds) as well as some more advanced topics (driving traffic; creative strategies; adding users).  By the time we were done, everyone had set up their own blog and was ready to go.
  • The attendees included two translators and three people who had started their own businesses.  One of the translators wanted to create a forum for his writing.  The other translator was inspired by the discussion of blogs at the JET Alumni Author Showcase (where Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), James Kennedy (Nara-ken, 2004-06) and Rob Weston (Nara-ken, 2002-04) all discussed how they resisted at first but now are glad they followed their publishers’ suggestions to start blogs.)
  • One of the JET alum entrepreneurs, Adrienne Smith (CIR Tochigi-ken, 1997-99), founder of Harlem Hip-Hop Tours (, said she had been thinking of starting a blog to help promote her tour business but had been holding herself back and appreciated the workshop because it lifted the “technology fog” for her.
  • Frank Luo (Fukuoka-ken, 1997-99), a Chinese-English translator, said afterwards, “It was really helpful… An efficient walk through on the mechanics of how to start a blog and why do it on WordPress, plus a few other useful bits of information. We also floated a few ideas on how to expand the scope of the workshops to make them more helpful to aspiring writers as well as those who are trying to promote their business through blogs.”  (Frank, by the way, brought a nifty little netbook, which we all sat around and marveled at for 5 minutes.)
  • Additionally, Friend of JET (FOJ) Jon Hills, a more experienced blogger who writes the J-News Mini-Roundup column for JetWit and also writes a blog for Hills Learning, a NY-based Japanese language learning services company he started, came to help out and also share a few new tricks (like adding blog functionality to a WindowsLive-based website).  He said afterwards he really appreciated having a chance to meet other people running businesses in a setting where everyone was working together towards a common goal.

Going forward

I’ll likely do one or two more blog workshops at Cosi or, if the weather’s nice, perhaps in Bryant Park after work one day.  If you’d like to be notified of future workshops, please feel free to contact me at professional [at] jetaany [dot] org.

Looking ahead, it would be nice for the “workshop” to evolve into a monthly “meetup” for JET alums and FOJs at beginner, advanced and in-between levels to spend some time working together, sharing experiences and tips and, of course, helping beginners learn to get started and have an opportunity to ask all the same “dumb” questions that I’ve asked along the way.

Additionally, for readers outside the NYC area, it would be great for people to get JET alum blog workshops going in other areas.  It’s a useful career tool and also a nice way to bring people together.

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