Tag: blogging

Inspired by Robert Fulghum’s poem, “All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.

I’ve been a nonprofit web worker (webmaster, web content administrator, web project manager, web writer/editor, social media administrator) since 2006. I’ve worn many hats in my career. I’ve managed websites and social media for organizations, designed and optimized graphics for the web, wrote and edited web content, learned to use and administer different content management systems, led web redesigns and content migrations, trained staff in these skills, etc.

Prior to being a nonprofit web person, I was a blogger for seven years. I took blogging pretty seriously and between 2003 and 2010, I wrote for and maintained two blogs. The first one focused on jobs and career issues for Liberal Arts graduates; the second one focused on my thoughts and opinions on music, culture, politics, and books. I had a good run and was featured twice in the Washington Post.

Like many bloggers who started out around that time, I’ve since taken my blogs offline because life simply just got too busy (graduate school, raising a child, household chores, job duties). But I look back fondly on blogging, not just because it was fun. I truly do think much of what I did was excellent preparation for work as a full-time web worker for nonprofits.

Learning new systems

A big part of web work for organizations is knowing your way around content management systems. These can be open source or proprietary and can run the gamut from simple and easy to use (such as WordPress) to highly complex and technical with a steep learning curve (such as Drupal). My first blogging platform was Blogger. I graduated to WordPress.com and, eventually, to the hosted version of WordPress. Blogging platforms are essentially simple content management systems. If you get a good handle of learning the ins and outs of writing in, formatting text and images, uploading files, administering and tinkering with the backend, and customizing the blog with features such as plugins and themes, you’ve got the basic skills needed to learn and administer a content management system! Big plus if you are really good with HTML, CSS, and technical configuration. You can make a very solid argument that you’ve got the background and skills to work on an organization’s CMS under someone’s supervision.

Planning for creativity

To keep a blog going, you need a constant stream of content. If you are not writing it yourself, you are seeking it out elsewhere and linking to it, or re-purposing it from other sources. You learn to get creative as you realize writing text and essays is just one aspect of blogging. You learn to use and properly format and optimize images, audio, video, and combinations of these elements. Once you have a blog and you’ve gotten the bug to keep it going, you learn that if you don’t constantly and regularly update your site with new stuff, your blog becomes static and stale pretty quickly. This holds true for an organization’s website, blogs and social media accounts. You have to keep “feeding the beast” with content. You have to not only be creative and proactive, you learn to plan content ahead of time. You incorporate an editorial calendar to keep track of things. You get creative about re-purposing content from other sources so you don’t have to create everything from scratch. Guess what—you’ve now gotten the basic skills and experiences for web editorial work!

Understanding your audience

To build and maintain an audience over time, you need quality content. You can’t just phone it in. You need to produce and publish material that people who read your blog will be interested in reading, downloading, commenting on and even sharing. You need to give your audience content that is relevant to them and that they find interesting or else they will go elsewhere. Once you are applying this principle consistently to your own blogging activities, it is not a big stretch to apply it to working for an organization. This insight can be used to bolster your background for web editorial and social media work for an organization.

Analyzing the outcome

Once you attract an audience, you will want to keep track of them. Where they come from, how many of them visited your site, what did they look at/download, what aren’t they looking at or downloading, etc. That is why people use tools like Google Analytics. Once you learn Google Analytics for your own blogging use, you can apply this skill to administering any other website, including for an organization.

Building relationships

Once you have a blog going and you’ve gotten some traffic, you will notice that people will comment and share your posts. You will notice that you might attract the same three to five individuals consistently and they are commenting, sharing your stuff and are engaged with what you are doing online. Some of these folks can be just fellow hobby bloggers. But sometimes, you get lucky and you attract someone who has a substantial audience or following, someone well-known or famous, or (like in my case) someone who works as a journalist for a nationally known newspaper or publication and they decide to write about you. Congratulations! You’ve now gotten experience with online influencers! Experience in attracting, maintaining relationships with, and using the exposure you get from these influencers to expand your audience comes in very handy when making a case for administering an organization’s online presence, especially their social media accounts.

Blogging, for me, started out as a hobby and as a way to vent and express my thoughts about issues I felt strongly about. Along the way, I learned some valuable skills and got a good, basic background to get my foot in the door for web work. I’ve used skills and insights I learned from blogging pretty much day-to-day in my jobs for the past fourteen years.

Liberal Arts graduates (I am one) often find the work world bewildering, initially feel lost and, have difficulty finding ways to apply the skills they learned in school to work. Blogging was a good (and fun!) way to develop the skills and background to got my foot in the door to do web work for nonprofit organizations.

To help us understand how editorial guidelines can help build relationships with guest storytellers, Marlene Oliveira of Nonprofit MarCommunity answered some of our burning questions.

When and why did you first create editorial guidelines for your blog?

I created the Nonprofit MarCommunity editorial guidelines before the blog went live, in April 2013. This was my first time running a multi-author blog and I heavily researched ways to do it right and keep it manageable: editorial guidelines emerged as a must-have. I also looked at big, successful multi-author blogs that I respected like Content Marketing Institute, Marketing Profs, and Social Media Examiner; they all had strong editorial or submission guidelines in place.

Based on my research, I knew that I needed editorial guidelines that outline the blog’s purpose and plan. I knew it was important to have them documented and easily accessible so I could:

  • Share them when approaching potential contributors. The guidelines summarize everything I’m looking for in a blog post, and why.
  • Send them to potential authors who approach me to guest blog. The guidelines help ensure the right fit before we start making specific plans.
  • Provide them as a reference and guide for bloggers during writing and as they neared completion of draft copy.

And there’s an additional benefit: The editorial guidelines also show my commitment to quality, relevant and consistent content—which attracts quality contributors!

How have your editorial guidelines changed over time?

For the most part, the original guidelines are intact and I have made small additions and adjustments over time. Here are two examples:

  • In addition to what we cover on the blog, I’ve added information about what we don’t cover. Specifically, I was getting too many fundraising-related pitches and it’s neither a focus of the blog, nor my particular expertise (important to acknowledge since I’m the managing editor). So, I added a note in the guidelines to say that we don’t cover fundraising topics—preferring to leave that to the fundraising experts.
  • Over time, I’ve also added a number of links to more details on some of the points in the guidelines. For example, because our focus is on how-to content, I’ve added links to articles that guide authors through writing for the how-to format.

How often do you modify or refresh your guidelines?

The short answer: as needed.

Over the years of running the blog, I’ve paid attention to revisions or suggestions I find myself making repeatedly, and for multiple authors. Repeating myself in this way is a sign that I need to add more detail to the guidelines in a particular area.

This also applies to vetting post ideas. I mentioned earlier that I’ve added in a note indicating we don’t feature fundraising topics. I used to get many pitches for fundraising posts, and now I rarely get them.

And then, sometimes our authors alert me to something that is out of date! For example, I initially asked contributors to include a thematic feature image, which I noted in the guidelines. Over time, for consistency, I decided to take care of those myself. Just this week, I received a question that made me realize I needed to remove that request from the guidelines.

What do you think your world/blog would look like without these in place?

My world would be much less efficient! I always urge nonprofit communicators who are planning to start a blog to establish and publish guidelines as soon as possible. I believe it’s truly an essential step.

Without the guidelines, I would have to communicate and repeat and explain so many points on a weekly, or even daily, basis.

The guidelines save me time when talking to potential bloggers about their ideas—if the alignment is a little off, I resend the guidelines and ask them to consider an angle that fits. I send the guidelines to people with an interest but without a specific idea; the guidelines will help them to understand whether they have content/ideas that fit and can sometimes inspire new ideas. I send the link to new bloggers to help them shape their content for our publication and to use as a checklist once the draft is coming together.

Running the blog is something I do as a side project of my business, so the time the guidelines save is essential!

How much direction is too much? Where do you draw the line?

If you can get as specific as possible when pulling together editorial guidelines, I think that it’s a good idea.

I think that the majority of bloggers appreciate specific guidance. Remember, blogging might seem like an old format now, but even many experienced writers have never written for a blog. I just received a pitch this week from a communications pro with 20 years in the business who has never blogged before.

On the other hand, you don’t want to be so heavy-handed with direction that you scare people away (either from contributing or even just from reading your long guidelines). I recently wrote about managing the blog review and revision process and some of the same points, such as leaving room for individual voices and styles to shine through, apply when crafting your guidelines.

What is the purpose of asking others to write for your blog? Isn’t it more work than it’s worth?

Yes, it’s work. A lot of work! But yes, it’s worth it!

I’ve found that for many nonprofits (and of course, there are exceptions), a multi-author blog makes more sense than a blog written from a personal or corporate point of view. Nonprofits are rich with potential contributors who can share information, insights, and experiences in a way that will be much more appealing than posts written strictly from a single “corporate voice.”

Managing a multi-author blog is certainly work; you need to understand that from the beginning and plan accordingly. However, as you build up your community of contributors, put systems and tools in place (like editorial guidelines), and figure out efficiencies, you’ll find that the work is much lighter than it would be if you took on all of the writing yourself.

On a slightly different topic, it might sound self-serving, but you’ve also got to keep the reach of your blog in mind. Every guest blogger has the potential to bring your blog to new audiences—a potential benefit in that can’t be ignored.

What questions should an organization ask themselves when creating submission guidelines?

You should be asking:

  • Who is this blog for?
  • What do we want the blog to achieve?
  • What contributors do we want to attract?
  • What types of content do we feature?
  • What’s our blogging style?

Before you have guidelines, you need a clear blogging plan that defines your blog’s purpose, goals, audience and content. All of these should be stated in your guidelines, along with practical information about what you want to see in each individual post. I have an article that offers a detailed step-by-step process for creating blog editorial guidelines that should help.

April 6-12, 2014

This week is National Volunteer Week! Points of Light, the organization that established this program in 1974, says “National Volunteer Week is about taking action and encouraging individuals and their respective communities to be at the center of social change – discovering and actively demonstrating their collective power to make a difference.”

To recognize the tireless work of volunteers that support the nonprofit sector, we’ll be publishing a blog post every day this week to celebrate their contributions. We’re kicking off Monday with a shout out to NTEN’s Community of Practice (COP) leaders.

Here at NTEN, we marvel at the community members who run our COPs all year long because they create the space for that discovery and difference-making to happen, through thoughtful facilitation of online discussions and regular calls, webinars, or tweet chats. Some are veterans in the #nptech space who’ve been organizing with us for years; others have just started their groups after being inspired at the 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference. We can’t ever thank them enough, but in honor of National Volunteer Week, I want to give a heartfelt shout-out to these volunteers:

We also have COPs for accidental techiesonline/offline community builders, and nonprofit tech consultants, all of which are fueled by community participation.

If you’re looking for peers who will help you hone your skills and develop your career or network, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to peruse the COPs, and join one or a few. I know the volunteer facilitators will make sure you feel welcome.

Is there a COP that you wish existed? Thinking of starting one yourself? Read this FAQ and then email us at community@nten.org with questions or ideas.

A recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute showed that 92% nonprofits are using content marketing. While nonprofits are using a wide variety of sites and services to distribute their content, the effectiveness of these efforts is often uncertain.

In fact, nearly 75% of those polled rated their efforts middling to ineffective, while only 25% of respondents reported having a documented content strategy.

Without a plan for content creation, it’s pretty hard to gauge success.

Your plan for creating content should start with your website. If it’s difficult to add or edit pages, upload documents or embed videos, you’ll always be struggling to produce great content. A blog is a great way to add new content to your website since there are so many free or low-cost options available. Search engines also value new blog posts because it shows that you’re keeping your content fresh and updated. This makes your website more relevant in searches related to your community, your cause or your industry.

Here are 6 ways you can develop a content strategy and create content your audience will value.

  1. Answer donor questions. Every day, you get questions from donors via phone, email or in person. And, if one donor has a question, many more are likely to have the same question, but haven’t asked yet.  One way to answer the questions of your donors is to create blog posts or pages on your website dedicated to answering their questions. By taking this extra step, other donors – and potential new donors – can get their questions answered without needing to call. You’ll provide them with relevant information while also building a great library of content on your website.
  2. Post information about your industry or cause. As an organization that is passionate about your cause, community and industry, you likely receive news about issues that affect your donors from time to time.  Here is your chance to demonstrate your organization’s expertise and share that information with your audience on your website. Posting industry or community trends, reports that affect your cause and related news demonstrates to your donors that you’re actively involved and passionate about your nonprofit’s area of focus.
  3. Create numbered lists. Providing content in list format is a simple way to engage your audience. Are you unsure how to create a numbered list? Think about how your organization helps your audience solve certain problems or provides assistance to others. Then, break that into 3-10 main points that readers can quickly skim through. Headlines such as “5 ways your contribution impacts children” or “7 easy ways you can improve education” lets your donors know that the article is a quick read on how your nonprofit drives results – and how they can help.
  4. Conduct surveys. Ask your donors if there are any other products, services or information you can provide them that would help them. You can do this during your phone calls with them, at events, during personal visits or via email. Many times, your donors are only seeking information, which you can provide via content on your website and via social media.  By listening to your donors and providing additional value, you’ll be building a stronger relationship with them as well.
  5. Profile your donors and members. Everyone loves a great story, especially when it’s about a topic that they care about.  Ask your best donors if you can create short profiles on them for your website. Go beyond the basics of how and when they contributed to your organization’s success and include background information about their company, how they use your products and services, and how their contribution benefited your organization. Tell their story, and in turn you’ll tell your story. These personal stories will help potential new donors relate to your organization and the individuals who support your cause.
  6. Share other people’s content. Creating original content is only part of your strategy— you’ll also want to share information from other resources. If you only post your own content on your social media sites, you can appear overly self-promotional. By sharing information from others, you reinforce your commitment to your cause. Share posts from donors, members or other industry experts, and retweet posts on Twitter that are relevant to your organization and your donors. Over time, your donors and followers will see you as a valuable resource for information and will be more likely to share your content.

Like with your other projects and initiatives, seeing results from your social media and content marketing efforts is dependent on outlining goals to measure success. Create a communications plan that includes who will create the content, when it is due and when you’ll share that information on various social media pages. Taking a deadline-based, disciplined approach will help you accomplish your goals and keep you on task.

Don’t worry, your life doesn’t have to be consumed with blogging or creating new content from scratch.  It’s okay to start slowly at first. Try creating one piece of new content per week and sharing one post from others daily.

Measure your results against your goals and adjust your plan as needed. Are you getting an increase in traffic to your website? Have online donations gone up over the previous month? Did you get more attendees at this month’s event than last month’s?

As you begin to create and share more content with your followers, you’ll find that they will help you share your content with their networks as well. This increased exposure to potential new donors or members is your ultimate goal. By providing valuable content to your donors or members, you will strengthen their connection to your organization, which can drive growth for your nonprofit.

For more tips on how your nonprofit can generate great content to build relationships and grow your audience, check out our guide “6 Ways to Produce Content Your Members Will Value.” (http://info.weblinkinternational.com/nten-content)

Nonprofits are always looking for ways to improve their blog’s content and promote their blog better. At 14NTC, we will discuss how nonprofits can get more out of their blogs in the session I will be leading titled “Measuring the Success of Your Blog Through Content, Social Media, and Analytics.”  

Analyzing Content and Social Media

One way of improving your blog’s content is to look at your existing content to find out what is working well and what is not working well with your blog.

The first step in this process is to gather data from your web analytics and social media posts. You should keep track of the number of times your blog and blog entries have been viewed, referring sites, most viewed pages, and least viewed pages in your web analytics. For each social media site you post a link to your blog entry to, you should note if you got any comments/likes/shares and how many.

The next step is to analyze your data. Here is a list of what each piece of data tells you and questions you should be asking when looking at the data:

  • Keeping track of the number of times your blog has been viewed will give you an overall picture of the success of your blog.  You should see this number increase as your blog grows.
  • Referring sites will let you know where people are learning about your blog and blog entries. Did they visit your blog because it was linked on your website? Did they learn about your blog entry because it was posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest? What sites were your blog or blog entries linked on?
  • Your most viewed pages in your web analytics and most commented/liked/shared posts on social media will tell you what works best for your blog. These are the topics or format of content your readers want to read. You should post similar content in future entries.
  • Your least viewed pages in your web analytics and least commented/liked/shared posts on social media will tell you what you should write less about on your blog.
  • Look at the number of times your blog has been viewed and your referring links. Did you gain more views because you promoted your blog in an e-mail or on social media?

Content Ideas

Another way of improving your blog’s content is to come up with new content ideas to make your blog more relevant to its readers.

Here are some ideas for post topics that you might not have considered: 

  • News related to your mission
  • Events and campaign promotion and follow up
  • How to donate to your organization, and how donations are being used
  • Different ways to volunteer
  • Stories about your organization’s clients 
  • Volunteers with donors or volunteers about why they support you  
  • Staff interviews
  • Share statistics
  • Report summaries
  • Link roundups
  • Share articles that mention your organization
  • Stories about your successes and failures
  • Stories from the field
  • Educational content
  • Weekly theme (example: photo of the week)
  • Add photos, videos, and infographics to your posts

Preparing for the Session

The session is going to be an interactive session where nonprofits can learn from others. I will be sharing examples throughout the session of nonprofits that have great blog content and are promoting their blog well. The session will be even better if attendees already know what they are going to share about their blog. The questions below will help prepare for the session.

  • How are you measuring success of your blog?
  • What topics do you write about?
  • How is social media helping your blog?
  • What social media site have you had the most success from?
  • How are you promoting your blog?
  • How are you using web analytics for your blog?
  • How often do you analyze your data?
  • Is there a blog post that you think was really a success?
  • How often are you posting content?
  • How do you get ideas for content?
  • Do you use an editorial calendar for your blog?
  • How has blogging helped your organization?

You can probably imagine the faces of my colleagues when, a few months back we started talking about how to get more of our community involved in blogging. You’d have thought I’d proposed that we all eat steamed cabbage for the rest of the month, or perhaps do group swims in the frigid Willamette River every morning at 5am. It was that familiar look of “yeah, I know this is good for us, but C’MON, seriously?”

I get it. Not everyone enjoys the writing process or has time to muse about best practices. Yet content creation is a real challenge for rapidly growing businesses like ours at Idealist Consulting. We had to find a way to amplify our collective voice and expertise.

Well, one month in, I am proud to report that we’ve developed a scalable program that has worked pretty well for us so far. Here is what we learned about creating an internal content creation program – this could be adapted to organizations of any size who need additional contributors (either employees or volunteers) for any type of published content or social media.

Our approach

We went through several false starts before settling on a solid process, but as a technology consulting firm we are accustomed to an agile approach and made peace with the fact that we wouldn’t get everything perfect right off the bat. Initially, we were ambitiously looking at dozens of partner and industry newsletters where we wanted to make a splash. I started a massive Google spreadsheet listing the audience and potential reach of each channel, the possible blog topics, submission deadlines, and more. I invited all of our internal staff to add to it and was disappointed when almost no one did.

So, we pivoted and decided to focus our attention on motivation rather than outcome. We set up an incentive program with clear requirements and expectations and communicated this to our staff during our weekly meeting, then posted the process in Salesforce. Here are some of the cornerstones of our program:

  • Topics can be proposed by contributors or chosen from a list provided by our marketing department
  • Posts must be 500-800 words and have an engaging tone that is not too technical
  • Spell check and peer review must be run before submission
  • Marketing department has the right to ask for improved drafts or edits as they see fit
  • Each accepted post will result in monetary compensation

We launched the program and…nothing. For a couple weeks. But then one of our employees approached me with an idea for a post on how to be a great client. It was smart and included her expert advice based on five years working with a wide range of challenging clients. Best of all, it addressed a conversation that we’ve had often internally, when we’ve said “man, I wish I had a resource I could just hand people to help them work with us more effectively!”

Then a partner approached us for a technical review of their Salesforce solution, and because of our new blog program I was able to handily reach out to the specific employee who has the most experience with this application and quickly convince him to write this post. Having a solid process in place made this a much easier ask.

Here is a review of some lessons we have learned in setting up a blog incentive program:

Don’t

  • Over-engineer the process. It can be tempting to set goals and map out all possible content channels right off the bat. Don’t. Your time will be much better spent getting some early success and then fine-tuning the process in a few months.
  • Assume everyone can write. Not everyone can (or should). If you have a subject matter expert (SME) in a particular topic, your time might be better spent having a skilled writer interview him rather than making the SME write the post himself.
  • Force people to write about something they don’t know about. It is much easier to write about something you’re comfortable with – don’t force it.

Do

  • Set clear expectations. Think of how you want your blog (or social media, newsletter, etc.) to be populated and then set guidelines so submissions will fit into this as much as possible.
  • Give an incentive. If it’s valuable to you to have diverse content creators, you need to make it worth the writer’s time too. Even just $15 per post could make a difference in motivating new submissions.
  • Show what’s in it for them. Beyond a monetary incentive, blog posts will enhance the writer’s credibility as an industry thought leader and enhance their “personal brand”.
  • Set up a clear tracking system. We set up a custom object in Salesforce to track submissions and payments. Make sure you have a system in place.
  • Give public recognition. Every time one of our employees has a post published, we share it internally. Peer recognition is powerful stuff.
  • Be agile and willing to adjust. One month in, it’s clear that this program will need some ongoing love to keep it going. We’re considering setting up a Basecamp calendar to plan out future posts and other changes will undoubtedly be needed as well.

In summary, while it can take some work to set up an internal content creation machine to generate blog posts or other content, the benefit of having a fleet of content creators at your fingertips is likely worth the trouble and will help any growing organization scale their communications.

Have you set up an internal content creation system where staff or volunteers from various departments contribute content? Do you contract out for other technical writers rather than using internal resources? What has worked or not worked for your organization? Please let us know in comments.

Kirsten is the marketing coordinator at Idealist Consulting, a Portland-based firm that provides forward-thinking, approachable support to advanced technical solutions. Kirsten began her career in the nonprofit sector with AFS Intercultural Programs where she managed the national scholarship program for students to study abroad. She then pursued project management for several years in the private sector before returning to her passion of helping nonprofits work more effectively through technology. Find Kirsten on Twitter at @IdealistCons.

I’m excited to be an official blogger for the The Millennial Impact Project’s upcoming conference, MCON13. MCON is an annual conference, gathering nonprofit professionals and corporate leaders to discuss how to engage and involve Millennials in social causes.

MCON13 will take place in Indianapolis on July 18th. Learn from an array of experts on Millennial engagement during the day, with an evening program of headliners discussing investment in Millennials. The impressive line-up of experts includes speakers from Twitter, SeaChange, YouTube, NPR, and headliner, Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ.

You can attend the conference in Indianapolis or you can join in the conversation through the Online Experience. Online attendees will be able to listen to the free livestream of talks and take part in the social media and conference chat. Tickets are limited and expected to sell out, so don’t delay in registering for MCON13.

Getting excited to learn more about engaging millennials in your cause? Join Achieve and Care2, on June 13th for a free webinar, “How Millennials are Changing Social Causes”. You can also check out Jason Shim and Shubhagata Sengupta‘s article on using emerging technology to engage youth. And don’t miss tomorrow’s #commbuild Chat where Jason and Shubhagata will be leading this week’s chat on engaging youth online.

Look forward to having you as part of the conversation!

Will you make me a promise before you read this? Don’t make blog planning a six-month process. A little planning will go a long way towards making your blog more successful. A lot of planning will just slow you down. Use these steps as a guideline. Jot down some notes, have a couple meetings, and start blogging!

Promise?

OK. Here we go.

1. Listen

Research what blogs are writing about your cause, and where yours could fit in the conversation. Use Google Blog Search, Alltop.com, blog rolls, and Twitter Search to find blogs about your issue. Add related blogs to a feed reader like Google Reader to make it easy for you to read and comment regularly.

2. Find your blog’s purpose

Knowing why your organization wants to blog will help you determine how often to post, what to post about, and who should write for your blog. Questions to ask:

  • Why does our organization want to blog?
  • What goal(s) will a blog help us achieve?
  • What would a successful blog look like

3. Describe your ideal audience

Your blog may not be the right tool to reach everyone (e.g. donors, volunteers, constituents, funders, and press), nor does it need to be. Questions to ask:

  • Who are three people who represent our ideal readers?
  • What topics interest them?
  • What would make them read every post?

4. Brainstorm juicy blog post topics

This is a great activity to do with a group. Ask folks to brainstorm blog post topics that will fulfill your blog’s purpose and reach your ideal audience. Below is a list of types of blog posts to spark your imagination:

  • answer readers’ questions
  • ask for help
  • “best of” list
  • challenges (e.g. GOOD’s 30 Days of Good)
  • comment on current events
  • click list of other blogs’ posts
  • guest post
  • how to
  • interview
  • notes “from the field”
  • numbered list
  • opinion
  • personal story
  • photos
  • podcast
  • regular column
  • reviews (e.g. books, films, products)
  • round-up of news about your issue
  • series
  • video
  • your organization’s news (e.g. events, campaigns, press)

5. Select your staff

You’re going to need a blogger(s), a managing editor (if you have more than one blogger), a community builder, a web designer, and tech support. All these roles could be filled by one person, or by multiple people. A word about making your Executive Director your main blogger: unless they LOVE to write, don’t do it. They don’t have the time. If you’re thinking about depending entirely on guest bloggers keep in mind: 1. your readers probably don’t care as much about who these people are as you do, 2. wrangling people who don’t work for you to write posts won’t necessarily save you time. If you want to have interns run your blog, be sure to have a plan in place for who will write for it when they leave.

So, who should write for your organization’s blog? Someone who:

  • loves to write
  • is able to write short, engaging pieces
  • understands how to draw readers in with words and images
  • enjoys being social online

6. Decide how often to post

Here’s the deal, the more you post, the more likely you’ll be read. On the other hand, regular subscribers might not want to hear from you everyday; plus, you might not have the staff to invest in daily posting. The answer: post regularly, at least once a week. Two to three times a week would be great, but once a week is better than not at all. Also, when you’re mapping out your blogging time for the month, remember that “blogging” encompasses reading, writing, commenting, and sharing posts on social networks.

7. Choose your features

Some basic features all blogs should have are:

  • prompts to subscribe by rss and email
  • commenting
  • a short “about” paragraph
  • sharing buttons on the bottom of every post (e.g. tweet this)
  • the name of the blogger who wrote the post on each post
  • a link back to your site’s home page, if the blog has a separate URL
  • archives

Some features you’ll have to decide about are, do you want:

  • the blog to be integrated into your site, or separate?
  • a custom design, or template?
  • categories?
  • a blog roll (a list of related blogs) in the sidebar?
  • a donate button in the sidebar?
  • anything else in the sidebar?

You’ll also need to decide which blogging platform to use (e.g. WordPress.com, WordPress.org, Blogger, Tumblr.

8. Create an editorial calendar

When you have small windows of writing time, knowing what you’re going to write about can save time, especially if you’ve been collecting ideas and resources somewhere (e.g. your Twitter feed, a notepad, Pinterest). Some questions to ask:

  • How often are we able to post each week?
  • What’s going on in the world this month (e.g. holidays)?
  • What’s going on in our org’s world this month (e.g. conferences, campaigns, events)?
  • Which posts were the most popular last month? How can we write more like them?

9. Create a plan to build traffic and engagement

Even the most amazing posts in the world will go unread, unless you let folks know about them. At a minimum, you should be:

  • sharing all of your posts with your social networks
  • linking to the month’s most popular posts in your e-newsletter
  • putting a link to your blog in your email signature and on your business card
  • commenting on other blogs
  • writing great titles with keywords people are searching for, and that draw them in. For title inspiration, peruse The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com)

If folks aren’t commenting on many of your posts try:

  • sharing a strong opinion in the post and title
  • asking a question in the post and title
  • asking for help, opinions, or advice. If you sound like you know everything, what is there to comment on?

10. Decide how you will measure impact

Look back at your blog’s purpose, and how you defined success to determine what metrics are appropriate. Some possible ways to measure impact are by noting:

  • subscribers
  • page views
  • comments
  • popular posts
  • Facebook likes, shares and comments
  • tweets, retweets and favorites
  • press that came as a result of your blog
  • donations that happened as a result of your blog
  • volunteers who found you through your blog

OK That’s it. Ten steps. Remember your promise: a little planning and a lot of blogging.

Oh, and here’s my biggest blogging tip:

Don’t be boring.

Do be creative, visual, engaging, educational, entertaining, resourceful, inspirational and fun!