The Third Stage: Getting Professional at Nonprofit Blogging

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This is part four in a 5-part series of articles examining the stages of blogging development within the nonprofit arena, describing the various challenges, solutions and innovations I have witnessed in the actual content marketing work of my clients. See if it doesn’t get you thinking about the power of the blog for your own organization.  Access the previous entry here.

Stage Three: Getting Professional

There are two items I’d like to mention here, one is a very small thing that can be very helpful, and other is a potentially Big Thing that can help your organization immeasurably.

First, the small thing, which is to consider preparing one, two or more “evergreen” blog posts. “Evergreen” is a journalism term that simply means news that is perpetually relevant. Some blogs might be about something that is very timely – an event happening that month, or an editorial comment on something that happened in the news. These subjects are not evergreen, and need to be published as quickly as possible while they are still relevant and fresh in people’s minds. An “evergreen” topic is something that is not connected with any recent event, and is always going to be relevant, even months after it was written. An “evergreen” piece can be kept as a backup in case of emergency – say if your blogger fails to finish their piece in time for publication.   Having evergreen pieces on hand can ensure that the blog is always published on time, without any last minute panic if something goes wrong!

Second, the Big Thing, which is to consider inviting other people to be “guest bloggers.” Once you begin to mull over this idea, you will start to realize its tremendous potential power and applications. First of all, by recruiting other people to write blogs for you, you are reducing the number of blogs that need to be produced by staff, cutting down on staff time (and expense). But more importantly, in recruiting other people as guest bloggers, you can engage stakeholders in ways you never have before. For example, a board member might be asked to write about his life experiences that have inspired him to care passionately about your cause. You might approach a colleague at another organization to write about why partnering with your nonprofit has helped bring about some kind of positive change in the world. One organization I work with recruited its CFO to write a year-end blog about the financial advantages of year-end charitable donations.

In moving forward with the guest blogger idea, I find it helpful to draft a letter of invitation. This letter can serve as a template and be used each time you invite someone new to write a blog – explaining your goal, and giving information on the blog writing process (how many words, for example). In this letter, I often break down the size of the organization’s social network, to show how many people are likely to see/read their blog post. The prospect of publishing something that can be seen by a large & new audience is usually very attractive to most people, and they are happy to accept the invitation. In fact, I’ve yet to encounter anyone who declined the invitation.

An added benefit of the guest blogger is that it stimulates social media sharing. When you post your guest’s blog on your Facebook page, or tweet about it, you can be sure that she and the organization(s) she represents will share it with their networks, thereby significantly extending the reach of your blog and introducing your organization to new people.

You can also use the blog to entice people to sign up for your email distribution (eblast) lists. One effective way of doing this is to advertise your blog in advance – perhaps revealing who your guest blogger is, or hinting at the topic of the upcoming blog – and let people know that in order to receive the blog, they should “click here” to join your email list.