You know how to write. That’s a plus and probably why you were picked for the job. Your concerns center around what you’re meant to write – the “what.”
Add to that, the company website doesn’t have a blog now. This means you’re also in charge of setting it up with no directions or model to follow. You’re not just expected to write; you’re starting the whole book from scratch. Yikes!
Where to Start?
Today you have several options in publishing a blog, but the best, most-used, and, in my opinion, easiest to set up and use is WordPress (wordpress.org). If your website is not running under WordPress now, set this up as a separate site, using the same url with “blog” added. Search the web, then select a host server that specializes in WordPress websites (they have a 1-step WordPress installation process), and select the company based on the current reviews. (I suggest this method rather than recommendation because these hosting companies keep changing and expanding. The reviews usually tell the story.)
You may need some help learning WordPress. Try WordPress 101 videos (wp101.com). Very excellent videos. You can get what you need to get started, then keep going, learning more and more at your own pace. It really is easy. I promise.
What do I write about?
Writing articles always starts with the basic reporter questions: who, what, where, when, why and how. Why don’t we try that with this blog?
The “who” is pretty obvious: your company. But wait. This blog is supposed to answer questions and solve problems for your customers. That flips the “who” around to your customers. “Marcie could not find the starter switch on our new blocking gizmo.” Yes, the “who” is “customers.” For more ideas about this customer-centric form of writing, check out Scott Stratten’s Unmarketing book.
The customer point of view is an important aspect of this blog. You, as the writer, must keep in mind the company’s voice in your writing while giving your customers information about using your products or services. That’s a tall order.
You’ll need feedback, both from your superiors and from customers, to determine your success. Proof the text and have a review before the article is published. After publishing, wait for customer feedback in the article comments or in activity from the call-to-action on your blog page.
Surprisingly, the “what” is going to come from your customers. If you have a customer list, send them a note or survey asking what they would like you to write about, what questions do they have about your products or services? Another source you have is customer service questions. Twitter, FaceBook, and search engine queries will also give you some ideas.
Blog Schedules and Shortcuts
Most of the other “reporter” questions will be answered depending on the situation in your article. However, “when,” although not part of the actual article, is another important part of the blog.
In order to maintain interest in your blog, you must have a schedule that you follow. This will encourage readers to come back to the sight regularly. A series of posts to tell a story or procedure is an excellent method to encourage return visitors.
If you can, start with once a week. If you find more interest in one article and have more details to add, write a follow-up article the same week. Don’t ever go as long a once a month. That’s a good period to wait for a newsletter, filled with articles and items of interest, but not a blog article. Your readers/customers will have found a new source of information they need in a month’s time.
A solution to coming up with what to write each week is to create an editorial calendar. Use the subjects customers want and create the titles of each article in advance, inserting each to a week on this calendar. The pre-written title is one of the best shortcuts to the article creation process.
As you become more at ease with blogging, you’ll want to spend some time making these titles clever, witty, and even amusing. Be sure to keep the promise they make. If your title is, “Build a Dog House in 10 Steps,” then it needs to tell how to do that exactly.
Another shortcut is to find photos in advance for each article. Perhaps someone could be persuaded to help you with this location process?
The success of your blog could be a building block to your company’s success. Let’s make sure to measure it’s progress.
Your website has various calls-to-action, contact emails received via the website, and number of customer service calls.
Get a starting mark. The blog will offer several new measurements: comments on each article, new calls-to-action, and, obviously, new visitors coming to these post pages.
Good luck on your new blog!
Here are some sources to help you learn more about blogging:
- Pushing Social: Easy Blogging Tips for Busy People http://pushingsocial.com
- Copybloggers‘ Magnetic Headlines writing series
- Content Rules by Ann Handley www.annhandley.com
- Unmarketing by Scott Stratten www.unmarketing.com
- ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse & Chris Garret do e-Learning www.learnable.com
- Twitter.com Search for pro bloggers and read linked articles.
Are there any points that need more direction? Tell me the biggest problem you’ve had setting up or writing your first blog in the comments space below.
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