Many nonprofits want to start a blog, but their staff members must often balance multiple roles and don't have the resources to regularly maintain one. However, blogs bring many benefits to nonprofits, and with a strategic approach, you can manage a blog with minimal time and resources.
Can You Justify the Time?
Every blog needs to start with a clear purpose.
Why are you blogging? What is your goal? Why does it make sense for your organization? Your answers to these questions must be clear. They will help you focus your efforts when you start your blog and also when you propose the idea to your supervisor or board of directors.
You should be able to articulate what your blog seeks to achieve in one simple sentence. For example: "Our blog seeks to provide nonprofits with technology tips and information about best practices at the introductory or intermediate level."
The Benefits of Blogging
The main benefit of blogging is to attract high-quality traffic to your organization's website. People might visit your site to learn about a topic and then stay to learn more about your organization. The traffic is high-quality because the audience that your blog attracts is already engaged and interested in what you do. That's why they clicked your link in the first place.
Kivi Leroux Miller's 2016 nonprofit communications trend report said that nonprofits believe that their websites are their most important communications channel. And websites with blogs get 55 percent more visitors than those without blogs. That's significantly more supporters and donors who could be drawn to your cause through your blogging efforts.
Blogs provide a way to report on your progress as an organization. You can post updates on your accomplishments or challenges and even communicate the impact of your mission by telling stories with social truth.
Blogging can also be a platform to foster relationships with other organizations within your community. You can share their posted content as a way to show your support and establish your organization as a thought leader.
Your blog can measure your success too. Through the use of analytics and quantitative data, you can track how much traffic your blog attracts directly. This will measure the payoff of your efforts and help you determine if the time you're spending is justified.
Narrow Your Focus
Blogs work best with a narrow focus.
You should have a specific target audience in mind to guide your content; there's no shortcut here. If you don't narrow down your target audience, you won't be using your time effectively.
An easy way to outline your target audience is to create what's called a marketing persona: a picture of your ideal reader. Ask yourself this: If you could condense your audience into a single, ideal reader, who would it be? The answer will help you identify what your blog should focus on.
How to Come Up With Compelling Ideas: The Spark Method
- Define the subject area. Think of categories for your blog and choose three to seven subject areas that it will address. For example, your blog could focus on accessibility, nonprofit communications, and advocacy.
- Select a few content types that your blog will feature. Content types could be external cause-related news, case studies, how-to posts, leadership messages (like interesting insights from industry leaders), or interviews. Be consistent with content types so readers will come back.
- Use your content types as frameworks. Frameworks will help guide you in brainstorming about the posts you'll feature. For example, if you want to brainstorm about an interview post, you can start by making of list of who you'd like to speak to.
What's a Realistic Frequency for Posts?
How often you post depends entirely on how much time you're able to put towards your blog. Regardless of what that might be, you need to be realistic and think beyond the time it takes to write the blog post. For example, how much time will it take to promote it?
Predictability and consistency is the best approach. Readers should know when to expect new posts and should be able to expect a consistent quality level. In this way you will demonstrate commitment and reliability to your audience. Start with a low frequency; a quality post once every two weeks will be more effective than a post of varying quality every week.
You Need to Plan It!
We've all accomplished certain tasks with no plan in our professional lives when deadlines didn't allow for sufficient preparation. And in most cases it was fine.
Unfortunately, blogging is not one of those cases. It requires planning. Here are two key processes that you must outline before you begin to write.
Use an Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar records what you're going to post about and when. It keeps all your planned content organized, and it sets deadlines that will keep you on track.
Decide on a Trial Phase
If you start a blog and then quit shortly after because you didn't achieve initial success, it is a waste of your time. You need to give it a fair amount of time to truly determine whether blogging is a useful activity for your organization. Give your blog at least two to three months before you decide whether it's worth the time that you invest.