7 Steps to a Better Blog

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve now written more than 400 posts for my blog. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things.

1. Determine the purpose of your blog.  I began writing the blog when I became president of NFPW because I wanted to be able to communicate more frequently with members. Many of our members were transitioning from newspapers. Social media was accelerating. Some members were transitioning into leadership roles. Almost all continued to struggle with work/life balance. I decided the blog would focus on communications, productivity and work/life balance. I travel a lot and use the trips for fodder if they relate to those three areas. Otherwise, you’re not going to get a travelogue on my blog. (Who knows, maybe I’ll write a travel blog sometime.)

2. Write about trends and news. I subscribe to numerous publications and receive tons of email filled with reports and statistics. All of that becomes fodder for the blog. I wrote about Pinterest before most of my readers had heard about it. I was already experimenting with it so I wanted to share what I had learned.

3. Post regularly. When I started the blog I committed to posting on Wednesdays and Sundays. I keep a Word document that lists all of the Wednesdays and Sundays. I fill it in with the title of my blog posts. Ideas are listed at the bottom. Key dates such as the NFPW conference are highlighted so I know I’ll have fodder on those days.

Keeping a content calendar allows me to plan what I need to write for the blog.

Keeping a content calendar allows me to plan what I need to write for the blog.

This summer I knew it would be a challenge to stick to that schedule so I scaled back to once a week (so I actually followed work/life balance advice). That also meant my blog visits decreased, but I wanted to ensure that I would at least blog once a week. Had I tried to stick with twice a week, I suspect I would have stopped all together. I’ll resume twice a week postings after Labor Day, and I’ve already begun researching and writing a few of those blogs.

4. Post on week days. I have seen this advice numerous times, but I break this rule. Many of my followers are busy communicators so a Sunday post means they have a bit more time to read it. The Sunday post also gives me Saturday as a writing day, which I often need. I also post on Wednesdays for those who are reading at work.

5. Leverage social media. I share my blog on Facebook and LinkedIn. Once in a while I try to tweet it, but I just haven’t embraced tweeting yet. LinkedIn works well for me because it’s a professional audience and members often share my posts, which I appreciate.

6. Leverage SEO. I think about what terms people will use to search and work to weave those into my posts. I sometimes sacrifice a creative headline so I can incorporate the appropriate SEO (Search Engine Optimization) words.

7. Use art to make the post visually interesting.  I find that when I include a photo, my blogs are more often read. Last year I had lots of photos because I also was doing a photo a day project, which generated art fodder for the blog. This year I’m struggling a bit to find appropriate art. I also need to build in time to find the art or take photos that would illustrate the point.

These tips aren’t magical. They do, however, require work, which is what it takes to have a successful blog.