Blogging is one of the most powerful and cost-effective engagement tools available. Blogs give your organisation a voice – one that you have full control over – and enable you to connect directly with your audience.
To ensure you’re making the most of your blog, you need to use this channel strategically and consistently – just like you would any other marketing and communications channel.
Read on for our tips on getting the blogging basics right and how to create content that will truly engage your audience.
An introduction to blogging
What are blogs?
Blogs are conversational, online articles that are typically posted to a dedicated section on your organisation's website. Blogs are usually advice columns, but can also be written as slice-of-life articles, opinion pieces, or newsy updates.
Blogs are not ads and should not be written as advertorials. You shouldn't use them to do the hard sell or a sales push. Blogging is about sharing useful content, with only a subtle call to action.
Why are they effective?
Blogging is all about helping your stakeholders by giving them advice or useful updates. For this reason, blogs are seen as authentic and people usually like to engage with them. They can be a great way to give your organisation a voice and personality, while also positioning you as an expert in your field. When done well, they go a long way towards generating goodwill and support.
How to use your blog strategically
Start by thinking about your stakeholders
This is the step that many organisations miss. Before you put pen to paper, you need to think about who you are talking to. This will likely be your current and potential customers or supporters. The topic, tone and style of your blog should be shaped by your target audience.
Choose a genuinely useful topic
Think about what your stakeholders are interested in and how you can help them. What are some of the common questions people ask about your organisation and what you do? What are some of the challenges your audience faces? What knowledge can you share as an expert in your field, without giving away your intellectual property?
A good way to come up with ideas is to brainstorm with your colleagues, clients, or friends and family who know your business well. There may also be events or milestones coming up that could provide subject ideas, such as the launch of a new project or a fundraising event that people can get involved with.
It’s important to be proactive with planning your blog topics as this is one of those things that can be too easy to put off. We suggest planning a few months in advance. Commit to regular blogs, whether this is weekly or monthly – your audience will be left hanging otherwise.
Start like you’d start a conversation
Blogs are a channel where you can embrace writing in a more conversational style. Think about how you would speak to one of your clients one-on-one over a coffee and try to channel that style when you start typing away.
Don’t over-complicate it
A blog isn’t the place to be too formal or use big words and industry jargon - especially if that’s not part of your audience’s everyday speech. Try to stay away from over-complicated metaphors, swear words, sarcasm and private jokes. Abbreviations, acronyms and text speech (think LOL) are also best avoided in most cases.
Keep your sentences short and get to the point quickly. Break up your writing using sub-headings to make it easier to read, and to help your blog get found by search engines.
For most blogs, a good rule of thumb is to write for a 12-year-old audience and make sure it is something you wouldn’t mind your Grandma reading.
Ask for a review
We cannot stress how important it is to get a second opinion on your blog. It’s all too easy to go off on a tangent or get too caught up in the detail. This is where a second set of eyes comes in. Give your blog to someone else before you publish it. As well as them checking your spelling, punctuation, grammar and the facts, it’s also helpful to gain a different person’s perspective.
Ask your reviewer what they learned, if they found the advice helpful and if the content was interesting enough to hold their attention.
Use quality visuals
When uploading your blog, you need to consider how to make it look as appealing as possible. A beautiful and relevant feature image will help encourage people to read it. Breaking up your text with a few other images will also help to keep your reader engaged. You could even include infographics or video.
If you don’t have access to many images of your own, there is a wealth of free stock photography sites out there that have high-quality and functional images available for commercial use. We love Unsplash and Pexels – and there are many more.
Make sure you include credits on your images where needed and don’t forget to include links back to any partner organisations or other content you’ve mentioned.
Share your blog content across your channels
Be sure to spread the word – wide and far. Your blog won’t get read if you just post it to your website and hope for the best. As soon as it’s live, promote it through your social media channels, such as Facebook and LinkedIn – plus your organisation’s e-newsletter. Add the link to your social media bios and your email signature if appropriate. Look at other ways you can re-purpose the content for reports, potential media pitches and more.
Keep a close eye on your channels for comments or questions about your blog and make sure you answer them. All interaction will drive further engagement with your content.
Need a hand?
Not sure where to start? If you need help with planning, writing, editing or reviewing your next blog, drop us a line.