Jenni is a contributing guest blogger from Bastille Marketing.
As a digital strategist, I often hear, “We want to start a blog, can you help us?” And, I think, “Terrific! Now the hard work begins.” So often organizations commit to a blog, and then jump in blindly without having a solid plan in place, wooed by the face that blogs are easy to set up and relatively free to create. But, there are several significant decisions that need to be made before one launches a blog.
In this blog post series, I will provide an outline for launching a successful blog. This first blog post will cover what you need to do BEFORE you start blogging…
Do Your Homework: Read, Watch, Listen and Learn.
- Blogs that cover similar content.
- Blogs about blogging – learn the ‘unwritten rules’ of good blog stewardship.
Watch Your Competitors:
- Observe your competitors’ blogs. Learn what you like and what you don’t.
- Decide what you can do better or what niche you can address that they aren’t.
- If your competitors aren’t yet blogging, find blogs who are in a similar industry and use them as a benchmark.
- Pay close attention to the comments on your competitors’ blogs – what is being said?
- Are they listening and responding or are the comments going unnoticed?
- Try to decipher information about those leaving comments – this may be your true audience or potentially a new audience to be tapped into.
- From what you have read, watched and listened to, decide what your niche is going to be.
- How can your content be new or unique – different from your competitors?
Need an example to get your creative juices flowing? There are many non-profits out there who are blogging and doing it quite well. Here are a few of my favorites:
- The American Red Cross
- The Nature Conservancy – this blogs handles a multitude of information in a very organized way with a clean design and layout.
While you are doing all of this ‘homework’ and making decisions about what is right for your blog, now is the time to also think about how your organization will handle reader interactions. Make a point to see how other blogs tackle this and let that be a guide for your decision-making process about comments. Read on to learn more about Comment Policies.
It’s Never To Early to Decide on Your Blog’s Comment Policy
Even before you develop the blog strategy and posting processes, you need to decide the comment policy. Why? The comment policy can make or break a blog’s success.
Given that it is commonplace within the blogosphere to have comments, a blog that does not allow comments can be seen as lacking authenticity and credibility. At its core, a blog is a two-way conversation – without comments from readers, a conversation ceases to exist.
In reality, many companies are just not ready to give up some level of control and opt for moderating comments (a feature that most blog platforms offer). This is ok and acceptable with a few caveats. These include:
- A strong comment policy posted in a visible spot on the blog.
- Comments are moderated and published within 24 hours (or less).
- Both positive and negative comments are published as long as they do not violate the comment policy (profanity, personal attacks, off-topic, etc.).
The next blog post in this series will address the strategy behind the blog as well as the processes that need to be defined and implemented before your blog launches. For more information on Blogging for Beginners, see all of the presentations from our recent briefing Best Practices: Blogging 101.