by: Christine Swartzendruber, Chief Technology Officer
Blogs are not only for journalists and marketing professionals. You can use blogging to engage your constituents, while providing important information about the services you offer as a nonprofit organization. Blogging has become a phenomenon. Celebrities, authors, field experts, teachers and even moms have joined over 50 million people across the globe who currently write a blog. People use blogs to share their thoughts, discuss current events, debate political issues, or just to talk about what’s going on in their life. There are countless benefits to having a blog. Having their thoughts and viewpoints heard as well as making money by selling ad space seem to be the most popular reasons to blog.
To be successful you have to promote interest. You have to engage your community in a way that will keep them coming back to see what your latest post is about. Here are 8 tips for effective blogging.
1. Have An Opinion
If you're building a community of loyal followers it’s not because they can’t find the same information somewhere else. It’s because they want to know what you think. They want to know your opinion. Don’t be afraid to express your thoughts and views. Share yourself with your readers, make your blog a reflection of you. Be authentic.
2. Write Frequently And Keep Your Content Fresh
Imagine going to the gas station on the corner of your street. Sometimes when you get there, they have gas. Other times they don’t. One day you really need some, but when you arrive at the station, there is no gas. Are you going to keep going back to that particular station, when you know there are others that always have gas? Of course not, and neither will readers if you don’t provide them with current material. It’s also important keep your content fresh. Play reporter once in a while. Research under-reported stories and do some leg work for your readers. Find an angle that no one, including mainstream press, has reported on.
3. Be Unpredictable
I attended a church once, where the pastor, had some good things to say. I kept coming back to hear his thoughts, and after about a month I noticed that every sermon he preached was about “Running the race, and fighting the good fight.” It was great information, presented very well, but how many different ways can you present the same topic. You don’t want to become too predictable. Mix it up a bit! Use pictures, images, video and other outlets to help you keep things interesting. Always keep your readers guessing!
4. Write About What You Like
If you don’t enjoy writing, you wont do it regularly. Write about things that actually interest you. Just make sure you know enough about your topic to provide valuable information to your readers. The blogosphere is crowded, the only way to stand out is to share personal stories and your personality. How can you do that if you don’t like the things you write about?
5. Don’t Expect Results Overnight
This is one of the biggest reasons that blogs fail. Bloggers think they can just start a blog and people will immediately start coming. That wont happen. The key to a blog’s success is promotion. Some ways to promote your blog include, Facebook, finding people with a similar level of blog and helping each other, writing comprehensive comments for other popular blogs and linking to your own, submitting articles to a site like ezinearticles.com. You should be spending about 70% of your time on content and 30% of your time on networking and promotion.
6. Ask Permission To Use Material From Others
It’s ok to do some online research about a topic and then write about it, but it is not ok to simply steal entire blocks of content from someone else’s blog. We learned this in elementary school when we copied our first paper out of the Encyclopedia Britannica. If you’re going to use images in your blog, don’t just open Google Images and randomly pick out whatever you like. This is copyright infringement. Go to a site like flickr.com and look for images with a creative commons license. It’s important to give others the credit they deserve if you want to include their work in your blog.
7. Follow Basic Grammar Rules
Don’t create a blog entry that is one big, long, run on sentence. It makes your blog hard to read and it makes you seems like a bad writer. Use punctuation, capitalize where it’s necessary and start new paragraphs whenever you begin a new idea. Using bullet points is a great way to present a lot of information in easy to read pieces. Your readers will thank you.
8. Keep It Short, Don’t Be Long Winded
A blog is not a book or a manifesto. No one is going to curl up by the fire with your blog. A reader wants to pop in, check out what you have to say today and pop back out. It’s easy to go on and on about a subject, especially one you feel passionate about, but it’s better when writing your blog to make brief points about what you want to convey to your readers. Brevity is key!