Tips for a Successful Nonprofit Blog
By Julia Campbell
Despite the many benefits of blogging, most nonprofits have yet to jump on the bandwagon. This presents an opportunity for your organization to stand out from the crowd and differentiate yourself.
Consider the following. According to the 2014 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, the most important social media platforms for nonprofits are Facebook (95%), Twitter (64%), YouTube (38%), and LinkedIn (26%). Blogs are nowhere to be found in this report.
The main benefit of blogging is increasing your ranking in search results. Google and other internet search engines love fresh website content, so a regularly updated blog linked to your nonprofit website can increase your visibility beyond the messages of your blog.
A second important benefit of a blog is that establishing credibility and demonstrating that your nonprofit is trustworthy, transparent, and a good steward of donors funds.
A third and vital reason to start a blog is blog content is digital real estate that your organization owns. Facebook may change its algorithms, Twitter may change its profile look, and Google may change its search methods, but your blog is yours to control.
Time is the most cited challenge to nonprofits starting a blog. Yes, it is true that blogs take time to set up and maintain. Technorati, a search engine for searching blogs, found that 40% of people that have a blog spend more than three hours per week on it.
However, setting a goal of one blog per week is likely attainable by even the smallest of organizations. Figuring out what to write is the main task. The print newsletters, press releases, and Facebook posts that create can be repurposed in blog format. A blog post does not have to be 10 pages long. On the contrary, 300-500 words with a great photo or even a short video work best.
Now that you know why having a blog is important and a little bit about the time involved, here are 10 tips for a successful nonprofit blog.
You dont need 500,000 subscribers to have a great blog. You just need to tell your story and authentically connect with your audience.
- Know your audience.
Who are you writing the blog for? Think about your audience for a nonprofit organization its prospective and current donors.
What makes you an expert with a unique perspective? What are your donors passionate about? How can you demonstrate your impact in 300-500 words?
- Choose a platform.
WordPress is my favorite, but there are many out there.
For a great primer on WordPress, read How to Setup a WordPress Blog in 5 Minutes by Jeff Bullas.
- Read many blogs.
Neil Patel of QuickSprout and Brian Clark of Copyblogger are two of my favorite bloggers who write about the art of blogging. In the nonprofit space, look at the American Red Cross, charity:water, The Ellie Fund and ASPCA.
- Write a lot. And write some more.
Write as much as you can, whenever you can. Most of my blog posts started out as a bulleted list written on my phone. Once you have written a few posts, it gets easier to find your stride.
- Keep a folder for ideas.
Create an editorial calendar and a folder called Blog Ideas. Keep these either in Google Calendar or in a document in Dropbox that can be accessed in multiple places.
- Be consistent.
Pick two days a week to post and stick to it. Read John Haydons post Time-Saving Hacks to Write More Blog Posts A Video Demonstration.
- Stay on message.
Find your niche and your audience (hint: your audience is not everyone").
What are they reading about, writing about, sharing, and commenting on? What are they most interested in? Its not about what you want to promote and what you want to say its about what they want to read and learn from you.
- Promote your blog.
If you write it, they will come! Well, not necessarily. You need to spend some time promoting your blog posts and sharing them with your audience.
Let your email list know. Put your blog URL in your email signature, on business cards and all print materials. Promote your blog through your social networks. Create a promotions checklist to refer to each time a blog post is published.
- Always focus on content.
Spend some time and dedicate some resources to creating content that is well-written, original, compelling, timely, relevant, and interesting. Quality over quantity always!
To quote Rich Brooks, You cant beat the Internet on volume, but you can beat it on quality, clarity, and perspective."
- Dont get discouraged.
Start small and stay consistent. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.
Julia Campbell, principal at J Campbell Social Marketing, helps nonprofits reach new supporters and strengthen relationships with current ones using online tools. Email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-578-1328.