After a year of COVID, most of our research took place at home and online. This stressed the importance of presenting our findings in an organized online matter to attract other talent and encourage hydrogen research around the globe. After joining the CORE team in early September 2020, it became our job to seek out the lab’s research and post it online, whether that was a YouTube video, Instagram post, or blog post. As the months went on, we developed a system to create consistency between the different types of content and link them together for more information. It also became apparent that not everyone in the lab was familiar with these kinds of posts. Thus, this post is meant to encourage all people to post their thoughts and findings on the website in a simple and consistent manner.
In writing a blog post there are three main sections: the before, during, and after. For most people, the during phase comes naturally, sitting down, getting your thoughts out and then posting. In our model, however, we focus on relevancy, credibility, and efficiency. In the next three sections, I will define what each section should involve and what questions should be asked when writing. For information on how we edit videos, click here.
So, you have an idea for a blog. The first step is to think about why you want to make this post. Some questions to ask yourself, “did you learn something new?” or “do you want to learn something new?”. A lot of times, people will get stuck thinking an idea is not worth writing about. Almost all content is good content. Not every post has the same value, and that is okay. If you feel the information is worth sharing, then share it. People tend to underestimate how relevant their writing is. An idea for a post can be as simple as writing about what you learned that week. This can encourage other lab members to learn from you and your experiences.
The next step should be the literature review.
“Has something been done like this before?”
Because of the number of posts that exist on the website, there tends to be some overlap. For example, I was creating a decision tree poster on different types of pipe fitting and part of the research for that involved looking at HYPER’s own Indium O-Ring Design. When I clicked on the first link on Google, I found a lot of the information I needed, but there ended up being three separate posts, all containing relatively the same information but slight variation from post to post. While it was good to have the different types of information organized in some manner, I felt the three posts could have been combined into one larger page with different sections. As you plan to write, think about how your post can be categorized with other posts. Another thing to keep in mind is linking posts to each other. If you come across a page with similar content to yours, make note of it. When you are writing, you may find that additional reading is required or that you just mention an idea from a different post. Thus, linking an already existing post can help your reader better understand and help the website gain more traction and views.
“Are we the ones who should be writing it?”
While researching, you may realize you do not have enough background on the topic to start writing. One solution could be to bring in someone from the lab to help you. Even just a short meeting to ask them questions and get their expertise could be enough to propel you to write a compelling post. However, it may require more than that. When there is a lot of research or work to be done, know when to ask for collaboration or even when to pass the torch on to someone else who is more qualified to write about it.
Finally, make the plan to write. Think about what topics you should touch on and how they will be organized. Some things to keep in mind are whether it should be a “one and done” post or something that is continuously updated. A post is like an article, one main topic that does not require much further updating while a page is a permanent fixture of a website, like a category of posts or glossary page. For example, a simple learning experience would likely be a post while research on Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles could be considered a page.
Now is the time to begin writing. Since you have already planned out everything, there are a few things to keep in mind. It is okay to deviate from your original plan as long as you remember why you wanted to make the post in the first place. One example of this is the YouTube channel. Originally, the CORE team wanted to make a YouTube Channel for the HYPER Lab that promoted our research as well as brought new attention to the world of Hydrogen. For our first video we researched Multi-Layer Insulation and set up many interviews to film and add to the video. What we found at the end, however, was that this process was extremely time consuming and while it accomplished the goal of promoting our research, it was ineffective at attracting a larger audience since videos were not produced at a quick enough rate. As a result, the team went back and redefined how they were going to make the videos while remembering their main goals and intended audience. Now, a video is produced almost weekly and has an entirely different model of creating and posting videos. As you write your post, remember to stick to your goals and the rest will follow.
Another thing to keep in mind while writing is to make sure you are getting what you need out of it. Posts are an opportunity so do not let the idea of time consumption stop you from learning. Just sitting down and writing is always a great way to start. This will lead you to ask more questions as you write and seek to find the answers to include in the post. Whether this is analyzing a work experience or researching a topic you are already familiar with. If you do not learn anything while writing a post, you probably did not get the full experience. Even if you think you know all the answers to that specific topic, push yourself to further understand.
Now that you have finished writing, make a list of important terms and phrases as you edit. You may have noticed that throughout this post there have been links to other pages and the glossary. Making this list of words and phrases will help you link the terms to a glossary or another page for further reading, something you should have taken note of during the planning stage. This will help your reader further understand a topic and help you personally define a word or phrase. For example, the HYPER Lab defines cryogenics to be at <80K while other labs define it as low as <20K because there is not a standard definition for the term, thus, linking this term to the glossary will properly define your topic. On top of clarity, linking your page to other pages will attract more views to the article as there are now more places for it to be seen.
The next step is to think about what media to include to help the audience better understand. Some questions to ask yourself:
Will making a diagram help illustrate my ideas? Will more photos of the topic add or subtract to the post?
There can be such a thing as too many photos. This can make the post feel cluttered which will detract from the content. One suggestion is to look at posts from different websites to see how they space their photos to break up the text. Utilize titles and boldening to help the reader “skim” to find the information they are looking for. Another important note to make about adding photos to the website is when you upload a photo, be sure to tag it with appropriate terms and a description. This will help other lab members understand what the image is and help locate them when searching the website media library.
The final step before posting is to consider how your blog or page could be promoted through other social medias. Not all posts need to be posted about through the lab’s Instagram or LinkedIn, but posts that are relevant at the time are typically the most important ones to promote. For example, Kjell Westra had a research paper about origami bellows that was about to hit the media in the coming weeks back in December 2020. The CORE team read up on his post and acted swiftly to film a video for the YouTube channel so we could build off his paper’s momentum. The minute his research paper hit the media the video received 800 views over the span of one week. Thus, if you deem your post relevant, consider how or if a video should be made. Will it add to the content in your post, or will it just repeat everything already said? And if you do think pushing it out on the other social medias will benefit the lab, consider when posting might be most appropriate. Think about what relevant events might attract outsiders to your content and when those take place.
These three sections are meant to help you create a meaningful post that utilize the internet and the lab’s resources. The most important terms to keep in mind as you write are relevancy, credibility, and efficiency. If these steps above are followed, your post should be adequate and present your information and experiences in a meaningful and engaging manner.