An easy blog management plan
Writing a blog is a very effective way to generate interest in your business, product or personal brand. BUT it takes much more time and effort than you imagine.
Expect to spend at least four hours (probably more) on each post. Before you start writing and collecting your images (and other stuff) have a think about the following. Planning will help you make sure your blogging is both efficient and effective.
I recommend writing down a couple of paragraphs under each of the following headings. It will give you a thorough understanding of what you are trying to achieve that is easy to share with colleagues. And while this exercise is specific to a blog, you may find the thinking applies well to a website or social feed with a bit of tweaking.
Sometimes writing a blog post can be really hard, and other times they just flow. I recommend starting with topics you know really well where you already have good visuals to enhance your story.
What is it or "Name"?
This is the heading of your blog management plan, but is also the name of your blog. You can get really creative, but I recommend going simple and clear. For example my blog is called ‘Blog’ :) You might like to incorporate your product or business name in the the blog name.
What are you trying to achieve with the blog? How does it help sell your business or product? Is its purpose simply commercial, for example, to drive customers into a ecommerce funnel? If not, what else is it for? For example, is it about awareness building, developing relationships, establishing credibility, or demonstrating a leadership position among competitors?
Understanding your audience is critical. What type of people care about what you are doing and writing? Who are they? What do they need from you? What are they trying to do? How much time do they have? Where are they reading your blog and on what device?
You are creating a blog for a reason. It is best to articulate that reason at the start - but don’t feel compelled to stick to that same reason over time - it can change. You should articulate this reason as a goal that can be measured.
Some of the ways you can measure success are unique pageviews via Google Analytics, traffic to your contact page, clients mentioning your blog in conversation, new clients telling you they have contacted you due to your blog, more links to your blog resulting in better SEO or ecommerce conversion. Your blog can also help you refine your ideas and help you better understand an element of your work. Work out a way to measure that change.
What ever your success metric, make sure each post has a call to action, a next step for the user, that is consistent with your reasons for creating the blog in the first place.
Promotion and findability
How will you let people know there is a new post? Will you use social media, your email list, word of mouth or some other methods? There is no point in going to the effort of creating a great blog post if no one is going to see it.
This is really important. Your blog is not just about copy. You must include visuals like original photos, videos, illustrations, infographics and animations. They can all help tell your story and add a great visual interest to your blog. No stock art please! Of course there is always an exception to this rule, but you really need to be able to justify a decision to publish a copy only blog post.
Format and style
What will the structure of your blog posts be? Both in terms of layout and communication style? Have a think about tone of voice, linking style, typical copy length, chunking, template format, formality level and our team’s style guide (if they have one).
If a user likes your blog they will probably want to read more. Work out how they can view old posts. This might involve tagging, categories, archive, metadata or a thesaurus. Help users flow through your blog, following similar concepts or authors.
Think about who will create your posts. Will it be just you or your team, or will you also use guest bloggers, or outsource the whole thing? If so, you need to figure out what training they need and manage their schedule and possible payments.
Is approval required? Who by? How much time will they take to give it? What training do they need do approvers need? These are all the kind of questions you need to ask yourself if your team includes legal, product managers, media relations or other functions that want to check what goes on the web..
“In the can”
Ask yourself how far ahead do you need to be with your blog posts? How many are ‘in the can’’ or already written and compiled, ready to go? I would recommend having three timeless posts standing by for those inevitably busy times.
Create an editorial calendar that plots when significant events are happening both in your business and outside. This is a great source of inspiration on those days when you are scratching about for a blog idea and to help you create content that people are looking for. This is also an opportunity to attach trending hashtags to your blog to make it more findable.
Think about how often your audience want to hear from you and how much time you have to devote to blogging? My advice is to take the frequency you are thinking and double it. So if you are thinking weekly, make it fortnightly instead. This will give you more time to devote to great ideas with vibrant photos or other artwork. As I mentioned before - it always takes longer than you think.
By now you should be able to create a schedule for your blog, with topics, production times, publish date and author names. This schedule will help you validate some of your previous decisions. Are you really going to be able to create the number of fresh, vibrant, readable, interesting blog posts that you planned for every year?
Syndication is another means to promote your content. You might be able to arrange to publish your post on another site at the same time with an attribution link? For example, this blog post appeared originally on www.example.com.
Commenting and user engagement
Some may say that comments are an integral part of blogging, but you do have a choice to allow commenting or not. Will you allow comments? If you do, will you moderate? Pre or post comment or comment plus notification? This is another one of those elements you can change to reflect the amount of time you have and other resourcing factors.
Finally, how often does content need to be reviewed and retired? (The answer might be never)
What have I missed? Please comment here or DM me at @ellengeraghty with your blogging management plan tips.