Michele Martin's post asking readers "What advice do you have for new bloggers?" couldn't have come at a better time. Lately, I've been pondering the idea of writing a post about blogging basics for nonprofits but with all the sizable amounts of information available about blogging and advice for new bloggers, I wasn't sure where to begin. After reading her post, it became clear to me that new bloggers need the most advice and direction. And with this post, I hope to achieve two things...one to respond to Michele's post and offer words of advice to new nonprofit bloggers and two is hoping that it will benefit both our readers and nonprofits that are thinking about venturing into the world of blogging.
Some common questions that I often hear from new bloggers are:
"How do I find the time to do it?"
"How can I build traffic and increase subscriptions to my blog?"
"How do I write excellent content?"
The short answer: Post, Post, Post! You've heard this a thousand times before and it sounds too cliched but it's true. Good content attracts visitors and helps you build traffic to your blog. So without further ado...here are some tips on writing content for your blog:
- Be excited - One of my favorite bloggers is Beth Kanter. She is a true activist and her posts always grab my attention. Find the person who is most excited to write for the blog and they will most certainly do the greatest job at it.
- Be unique - Develop your own voice and your own way of expressing yourself.
- Post consistently - Posting high quality content twice a week is much better than posting low quality content every day. Your readers come for content, so don't give them useless stuff.
- Be controversial - Don’t be afraid to voice your own opinion. As long as you believe in what you’re saying then don’t be afraid to disagree. But don’t overdo it.
Use catchy titles - When writing a post, the title has the ability make or break it. Short, catchy titles impact whether it’s found in search engines and social bookmarking sites, it influences whether people visit your blog and if people will leave a comment.
The power of lists - A single well written list post can take your blog to new great heights in the blogosphere. People love lists and you can easily come up with top 10, 8 or 5 lists.
Use visuals - Another good technique when writing posts is to provide something visual such as pictures and videos. You don't need to use images in every post, but they can make the post colorful and interactive.
Make it valuable - Write content that has value. Many new bloggers fall into the trap of thinking that long articles are better than short and clear writing.
Make use of comments - Comments let people share their ideas and thoughts about your post. Many times, comments can be used as a basis for a new post or to validate a point a point you are trying to make.
- Memes increase your audience - The memes going around the blogoshpere can be easily written and used for your own audience and bring a wider range of readers to your blog.
- Don’t stop blogging. If you don’t have anything to write about, surf more blogs and maybe you’ll get an idea. You can write about write a review on the latest movie, book or product. Whatever comes to your mind.
- Just start - My final piece of advice to nonprofits is to just start writing. Don't be discouraged and just do it. Set up a blog and try it for a year and you'll be happy you did.
Here are a few good examples of nonprofits using blogs to achieve their mission goals whether it be fundraising, marketing or advocacy:
- Citizens League: Covers frequent updates to educate Minnesota's citizens and motivate action on legislation.
- Oceana: Reports from the field from marine biologists and conservationists around the world on the battle to save the oceans. Readers are invited to participate in the discussion by adding to the blog.
- OBM Watch: Covers breaking cancer news and provides commentary on new research, scientific developments, and other cancer breakthroughs. The blog attempts to make complex medical and scientific information understandable for a general audience and is the latest tool from the Society to raise awareness of cancer risk, prevention, and early detection through commentary on breaking news in the treatment of cancer.
- The Civisphere: The goal is to create a resource and community nexus for NGO workers facilitating the sharing of knowledge and experience
- Vermont Nonprofit CommunIT: A collection of tools, resources, observations, and best practices for Vermont's nonprofit community.
- The NominationWatch campaign blog: is produced by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC).
- The Parent Partners, Partnership for A Drug Free America blog: Features posts from parents who tell their kids' stories.
- Coro: A leadership development program, has launched a blog that enables its 11,000 alumni and friends to share observations, analysis, and opinions regarding public affairs.
So those are my tips and best practices for writing effective content for your blog. If you have other thoughts on the beginning phases, I'd love to hear from you. Please leave a note in comments or drop me an email at soha(at)wildapricot(dot)com