Top tips for blogging

Blogging can be a great way to give your organisation a human face, and a clear voice on issues important to your sector. But it can be difficult to know where to start! Here’s some top questions to ask before you start yours.

1. What IS a blog?

A blog is like an online diary, with a conversation at the end! Displayed in reverse order with the most recent post at the top, blogs can be personal thoughts from an individual (like your CEO) or an organisational blog with posts from lots of different people. Blogs usually cover the latest developments in and around your organisation, but will be more be more ‘human’ and contain more opinion than a website news item or press release. They will also have space for readers or followers to add their own comments.

2. What is it for?

Blogging can help you find your voice, and use it to build your profile and build new relationships with potential partners and funders. It’s a great place to keep the world up to date on your organisation, and to respond to external stories as a ‘thought leader’ - commenting on key developments in your sector.

3. Who’s doing it?

Decide if you want people to blog as your organisation or as themselves. If you choose to post as the organisation, discuss the tone of voice contributors will use, in order to keep it consistent. Try and make this informal and personable - talking directly to your audience.

4. How often should we blog?

Try and make blogging a regular thing, so people know you’ve always got something fresh to say, and you can start to build a following. However, make sure you say something! Boring or salesy posts won’t get read, and may put people off for good.

5. What should we say?

The key to good blogging is to be interesting AND interested. Remember, a blog isn’t a place simply to broadcast your news, it’s a place for you to have an opinion and to discuss news relevant to your work. Here’s some ideas of things to say to start your conversations:

  • News on the progress and key milestones of your projects and campaigns
  • Related news - on sector developments or environmental changes and your thoughts/opinions on it all
  • Expert guidance- give out useful info that others can use and refer to
  • Case studies - feature real people and real stories to show what you do
  • Guest blogs - get partners or clients to give their expertise, comment on key issues or share their stories as ‘guest’ bloggers.

6. What should I be thinking about when I’m writing?

  • Titles - give your blog an interesting title to whet people’s appetites
  • Keep it short - try and say what you’ve got to say in as engaging a way as possible, in around 400 - 600 words. People won’t scroll much further.
  • Make it easy to read - Use sub titles, bullets, short sentences and paragraphs so your blog post is easy to scan through.
  • Keywords - think about the keywords people might be searching around your topic, and make sure to use them. Each blog post improves your SEO (search engine optimisation) and helps people find you.
  • Links - include links out to more information - on other websites or on your own website. Make your content as interesting and useful as possible, and people will come back for more of your recommendations.
  • Pictures - they still tell a thousand words! They also break up text and make a page look more interest-ing.

7. What’s next?

Don’t just blog - follow up. Publicise your blog post on your website, in newsletters and on other social media feeds, so people can find it. Encourage interaction by posing questions and getting people talking. Monitor responses, ask questions back, and show an interest in your followers. If you’re linking out to your website, create a unique link with bit.ly so you can track how many blog readers followed your story to its source.

8. Who’s monitoring what others are saying?

A successful blog starts a conversation, and those comments or additions from your followers need to be monitored. Just like offline life, leaving a conversation halfway through is considered rude! Make sure someone in your organisation - even if it can’t be the original blogger themselves - is keeping up to date and responding to what’s being said.

9. How are we dealing with negative comments?

Not everything everyone says is always going to be supportive! Handling the negative stuff well actually boosts your brand, and can gain you major kudos points. Be calm in the face of criticism, accept others’ opinions, and keep talking to your critics. You may never agree, but by being open, honest and transparent you can agree to disagree. Remember, you can always politely disengage with rude or abusive comments. You can even choose to pre-monitor comments before they are published, or get people to ‘register’ before they comment so offensive comments can be tracked and users blocked.

10. Where do we start?

There’s some great online blog tools out there, many completely FREE! Check out www.communityhowto.com for recommendations from other community organisations.