You may have set up a successful class blog. You might be using Quadblogging and Twitter to share your work with other schools and teachers, but you are finding parents, guardians and family less motivated to get engaged with your project, visit your blog and comment. The "Subscribe by Email" plugin is a very powerful tool that can get your message through to an audience who don't necessarily take the time and effort to visit your blog and has some very useful configuration options to make sure that the outgoing message from your blog looks both professional and appealing. It works by visitors adding their email address to a "Subscribe by Email" widget,usually positioned somewhere prominently on the blog. Once added, the subscriber will receive an email automatically either once a week or whenever a blogpost is published according to the configuration settings outlined below. The options to manage the plugin appear on the menu of your Creative Blogs site towards the bottom of the menu. Through the "Settings" option you can configure the following:
- How often your subscribers receive emails from your blog;
- What the outgoing email template looks like (including school logo and colours etc);
How often should you send emails to subscribers?
Because the plugin can be configured separately for each blog you should set this differently depending on the purpose of your blog. For example, if you are using a blog to publish your school newsletter, or other important items, then the setting chosen should be "Immediately as soon as a post is published". However, you should make sure that this is not the case on a class blog as you don't want to bombard subscribers with email. Instead, select the weekly digest option and choose an appropriate time for the email to be sent. See Illustration 1 (click to enlarge in a new window).
Configuring the mail template
Setting up a professional looking email template is straightforward. Firstly, upload a school logo or class photograph. Next configure the colours (you will need to use html color codes for this: this website will show you what colour codes your blog uses by entering the URL of the homepage). After that, edit the header and footer with some text. For example, you could put something like, "Please take your time to comment on your child's work to help them with their learning." Finally, refresh the template view and send yourself a test email to make sure you are happy with your email template. Below is an example of a template set up for a primary school newsletter where the email is sent out every time a post is published.
Adding Subscribers in Bulk
Because many schools already maintain lists of email addresses for parents, it is also possible to auto enroll parents into receiving emails from your blogs. In order to do this you need a spreadsheet of email addresses (a separate list for each class). Note, you do not need any names on the spreadsheet, simply a single column of email addresses. Next, go to Subscriptions > Add Subscribers and upload the spreadsheet (the spreadsheet must be in .csv format). By doing this you are not relying on parents to add their email addresses in to the Subscribe by Email widget.
Adding the widget to your blog
Once you have configured the settings on your blogs, the last thing that remains is to visit Appearance > Widgets and drag and drop the Subscribe by Email widget into the desired position in your blog's sidebar.
Uses and Ideas
- To make sure parents and carers receive a copy of the school newsletter by email as soon as it is published;
- To make sure that the writing on your class blogs gets pushed to as wide an audience as possible;
- Set up a staffroom blog and auto enroll all staff so that posts on the blog get looked at by everyone;
- Set up a residential blog ahead of the event and auto enroll all parents so that notices such as kit lists, timetables etc get emailed out to all concerned;
- Set up club blogs and make sure parents and children (if they have valid email) are enrolled;
- Make sure the PTA blog has subscriptions enabled so that members get notice of meetings and events.
I am sure there are many more possibilities with this powerful plugin. Please leave your suggestions below as a comment. Creative blogs uses the WPMU Dev Subscribe by Email plugin to power this feature. Other subscribe by email plugins also exist.