Blog Content Management
This is a Guest Blog by William Cain.
Blogging has come a long way since the days of the teen’s personal Livejournal account. Blogs as journalism, blogs as advertising, and even blogs as storytelling have become accepted parts of our society. However, there is still a perception that a ‘blog’ is a creator’s own property, driven by a singular voice. There is certainly something to be said for this approach, but there is a more collaborative effort that should be considered as a way to develop a lively, interesting, and prolific blog presence.
Consider the website Gaming as Women, which examines issues of gaming culture and the roles women have in that society. They tackle larger issues such as the nature of anti-harassment policies at large conventions, smaller ones such as the best way to handle difficult subject matter in a gaming environment, and more esoteric fare such as releasing a game built around the concept of sweeping social change.
This is a lot of material to cover, but to be fair the topic they have chosen for themselves is indeed one with broad implications. As a result, the blog has become a platform for multiple authors. Each has a different area they specialize in, but all comment on every issue in some measure. The effect is very similar to the Op-Ed section of a large newspaper, with essays steadily being presented on a number of issues, but with no one author being asked to ‘carry’ the site.
Another example is Skeptic Blog where a collection of some of the bigger names in the new Skeptic community (including Brian Dunning, Michael Shermer, and Steven Novella) cover issues ranging from debunking paranormal tv shows to the dangers of modern medical quack therapies.
Skeptic Blog is a great example of a thriving collaboration, particularly because it has such a lively comments section. Since many of the articles are about controversial topics, the comments are a source of extensive debate and criticism. Of course, each comment is a visit to the site, and high readership drives successful blogs.
So how should you approach building a collaborative blog?
First, start with a theme. Collaborations are more difficult to pull off than singular efforts because each party brings a different perspective and desires to the table. If there is a core theme that each of the writers is passionate about (BEFORE they start the blog), then getting them to work together on-message is much more effective. Develop a theme each of the writers you bring on is comfortable with and eager to write about, and you have a solid start.
Next, with the understanding that the content is to be written within the core theme, let each author develop their area of special comment. This isn’t to say that only this author writes on such things, but rather that they should be allowed to focus their content on a particular sub-theme of the site’s main message. People tend to be better at writing content they are eager to focus on, so allowing this kind of specialization will help their writing grow. In addition, each writer’s focus on a particular field of content will allow them to attract a particular subset of readers who enjoy their work.
Third, engage with your fellow authors. If a collaborator writes an article that resonates with you, perhaps go beyond making a comment and writing a response expanding on their idea or analyzing a specific part of it. This kind of dialog will increase your content and give your readers a reason to check out multiple authors on the site.
Finally, each author on the site should have their own individual blog as well. This allows for a synchronicity among the readership. Readers of their individual blog can be referred to the collaboration, and vice-versa. The personal blogs don’t even have to be about the same specific subject matter as the collaboration – this allows someone interested in the specifics of Michael Shermer’s science education on Skeptic Blog to discover his writings on other materials, and creates a ripple effect of discovery.
As always, there is no magic formula that will make a blog succeed over others. If you get a good team with great chemistry together though, you might just find that lightning strikes and you have a real winner on your hands.
William Cain is a freelance writer living in Apple Valley, California. He specializes in branding and blogging content, and is available for traditional and ghostwriting assignments. Check out his personal blog or contact him at wcain [dot] applevalley [at] gmail [dot] com.
Today’s big brand, Fiskars, dominates its market segment without necessarily being a household name, proving that depth can beat out breadth any day. Fiskars sells scissors. How do you get people excited about scissors, you ask? Well, if you’re Fiskars and in need of blog marketing, you turn to the crazy world of crafters. You know, all those knitters, quilters, crocheters, scrapbookers and upcyclers — in other words, the people who use scissors a lot!
Back in 2005, Fiskars was looking for a way to connect with the crafters that use its products. The company went on a multi-city casting call, looking for the loudest and proudest crafters in the country. They selected four scrapbooking fanatics who gladly exhibit their craft-love (along with the tools they use), and asked them to blog for the company. Customer engagement, coupled with brand engagement, has turned the brand’s blog into the giant crafter’s community that it is today.
Fiskateers — which is both the name of the company’s blog and what Fiskars’ faithful followers call themselves — uses blogging to generate excitement around the many different kinds of crafting. The blog features project spotlights, events, challenges, contests and even tutorials. Events and contests are tailor-made for blogging, and using other social media to promote the events to point people back to the blog is just smart business. The Fiskars Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram pages are a crafter’s heaven, with each one promoting the iconic orange-handled scissors that we know and love.
Chances are your company is selling something more compelling than scissors. So why isn’t your company blog as great-looking and useful as Fiskateers? Maybe you need to focus less on the numbers side of the business and more on how your customers use your products or services. Maybe you need an agency to help you ghostwrite some blogs. Either way, the more you know about your customers — the more you embrace and empower them — the better your blog will be. But don’t take our word for it; give it a try and see what happens. And let us know what you discover in the comments below.
On average, a single brilliant blog post chock full of SEO keywords, thoughtful research and great images takes anywhere between 30-60 minutes to write. This doesn’t factor in the amount of time you need to edit, find and post images and market each blog post. Naturally, you are going to want to post new blogs at least a couple of times a week. When it’s all said and done, we’d say to plan on 5-10 hours a week to make blogging worth your while. This is a substantial amount of time, we realize – but after you get the hang of it, you can do faster and better than before. However, if “getting the hang of it” holds zero interest for you, ghostblogging could be the solution.
Ghostbloggers free you and your staff from the task of blogging so you can spend time promoting and growing your business. This isn’t to say that a ghostblogger takes over your entire blog and never gives you a say. Most ghostwriters are legitimate writers who rely on business owners to provide input and a content plan long before the first post is published. After a clear content strategy is devised, a good ghostwriter can be trusted to routinely turn in compelling posts that your following will want to read. Smart ghostbloggers who want to continue to work are ones who know how to collaborate. A few brainstorming sessions via email can help a business owner’s voice be heard while giving the writer a wealth of post ideas. Plus, your ghostblogger should have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to SEO and can be a great resource for picking out keywords and blog categories.
Mainly, ghostblogging should provide a sense of relief. In talented and capable hands, business owners can breathe easy – and maybe even get that power nap.
When we talk about unforgettable narrators in literature, we think of Huck Finn, Patrick Bateman, Humbert Humbert and Holden Caulfield. Every story needs a dynamic storyteller, and this is no different in blog creation. The most popular blogs, corporate or otherwise, have a distinctive voice that can also thread together a variety of topics. But your brand doesn’t need to be a personality-driven one to employ a compelling narrative. Boeing Commercial Airplanes, for example, uses the knowledgable and friendly voice of one of its employees to tell the brand’s story.
For a personal and less technical touch, Boeing relies on vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth. Randy’s Journal turns what could be a dull and robotic affair of blogging for Boeing into something fun to read. Tinseth blogs about his love of travel, experiences working at Boeing and, above all, lots of cool photos of the company’s airplanes. Tinseth’s images set against the simple blog design make an enormous impact. Boeing and Tinseth know that a blog about commercial airplanes better have lots of photos of the flying machines, and Randy’s Journal delivers. Take offs, landings, stunning aerial shots, airplane assembly photos and even photos from Randy’s own travels are all here and used wisely. Original images of the behind-the-scenes action at businesses are the easiest and most dynamic ways to provide visual content for your company blog. Randy’s personal recaps and pictures from corporate events along with easy-to-follow explanations of new Boeing programs and innovations keep the blog professional without getting dull. Whether it’s a 767 or 787, Randy blogs with an undeniable enthusiasm that air travel fans and regular old blog readers alike will find hard to dismiss. Each post on Randy’s Journal casually tells the readers a bigger, more powerful story.
And that is what great narrative is all about. Narrative is often defined as a “spoken or written account of connected events; a story.” Using a CEO, longtime employee or a business owner is an easy way to make that narrative personal. Nobody knows your brand’s story as throughly as the folks who show up there every day. But it isn’t the only way. Compelling narratives can be built by a variety of channels, some of which you are already using in content marketing. The stories of your brand can be connected through customer narratives, social media narratives and even photo narratives, like Boeing’s, to give your readers a better idea of what your company does and what its story is.
There are specific foolproof things that hook us as audience members in all types of media, time and time again. In the movies, you can’t go wrong with a heart-pounding car chase. On television, a cliffhanger is a good way to get people to tune back in. And books that seamlessly introduce new characters and story lines to be carried over to the sequels have topped the bestseller list for years. Blog writing is exactly the same. There are certain types of posts which repeatedly draw readers, are perfect for social media and help you hit the SEO jackpot. Here’s four of our favorite types of “can’t miss” blog posts:
4. Photofest: It still has yet to be proven if a picture is actually worth a thousand words, but it could be worth a thousand page views. Posts with images from company functions, snapshots of your latest products and original graphics are not only popular blog fodder, but great for linking on social media.
3. Make ’em Laugh: We’ve said it before and we’ll probably say it again — funny blogs make money. Funny or Die, The Onion, Cracked and The Rich Kids of Instagram are blogs that live to make us laugh. But you don’t have to be a professional comedy writer to infuse your posts with laughs. With great ghostwriters, any blog for any kind of business can provide a much-needed chuckle.
2. Make a List: A friend recently confessed she started reading books more because she needed to read something “other than a list with pictures by it.” Our friend is right: Lists are everywhere (hey, you’re reading one now) and their popularity isn’t waning anytime soon. Five accessory ideas, 10 quick recipes, 20 energy-saving ideas… you get the idea. We heart lists and so do blog audiences.
1. Teach ’em Something: It gives us a glimmer of hope that the No. 1 reason we read stuff on the Internet is to learn how to do something. Yet satisfying our insatiable desire to learn is not only great for the human race, it’s also terrific for our blogs. “How-to” blog posts consistently rank high in searches and can potentially have long, well-read lives. Blog posts that show how to fix something broken, repurpose something old or cook something delicious are like magnets to blog readers. Teach your audiences something valuable and they’ll be back.
If you are a small business owner thinking about using to branded blog creation to create content for your website, help your SEO and spread the word about your company’s products and services, we say go for it! Blogging is your fastest and most affordable solution to creating custom content your followers will want to read. Yet what if you feel like your company has very little to blog about — that your business is so specialized that it won’t be able to sustain an entire blog for very long? We still say go for it! Blogs like the one created by online personal management service Mint.com inspires us to widen our nets when it comes to blogging.
Mint.com was created in 2006 by tech entrepreneur Aaron Patzer and acquired by Intuit in 2009. The site and its various apps help users track bank card, credit card, loans and assorted transactions and balances for free and from anywhere. Sounds like a great service; then again, how much can you really blog about it?
A lot, apparently. “5 Ways to Pay Loans Off Early,” “The Best Used Cars of 2013,” “How Employers Save on Telecommuting Employees” and “5 Fast and Frugal Recipes to Kickoff the Football Season” are just a handful of posts that have appeared on the Mint blog over the last few days. Mint has slyly turned its blog into a money-saving and financial trends blog that looks like a lifestyle magazine (and reads like one, too). This giant range of content, which all still falls under the bigger goal of helping folks manage their money, is now endless, thanks to a little imagination and creativity. It’s fitting that the blog’s logo calls it “MintLife.” This immediately puts the idea into our minds that this is a blog and a product for whatever life throws our way. And just like that, the door is opened for bigger and more diverse blogging topics. Brilliant!
As bloggers and small business owners, expanding the scope of our blogs is more than just a fast fix for future content. In doing so, we also expand our audiences and explore bigger topics outside of our industry bubble while giving our blogs insurance for longer lives.custom content,blog creation
How do we put this delicately without offending? Some blog content management strategies can be a real challenge when the subject matter is… well, uh, maybe a little too dry for the average reader. After all, our blogging-for-business
Explain and Entertain: So you know when you’re at a party and somebody asks you, “What is that you do?” and you have a clever couple of sentences that you rattle off about your business? Do that with your blog posts. It is entirely possible for company blogs to talk about the day-to-day happenings and inner workings of their business in an entertaining manner even when the company itself might not be all that fascinating. See the TSA blog, the PayPal blog and the Department of the Interior blog for real-life proof.
Nibbles, Not Meals: Believe it or not, there are great blogs out there written by engineers, lawyers, medical companies and geologists. The thing all these blogs have in common is the ability to disperse their expertise in short, bite-size posts. Research shows that somewhere over 400 but under 700 words is the magical blog length sweet spot. Remember, you don’t have to cover everything in one post. Blog readers will come back. Tackle one subject per post in an engaging fashion. Spread your wealth of knowledge to future posts. Videos, infographics, memes and original images also make for easy-to-digest (and even easier to link) blog posts.
Wonder Words: In the Internet ocean of bad writing, things like good grammar, clever copy and good, old-fashioned kick-butt storytelling stand out. Great writing never goes out of style, even in this age of aggressive content marketing. In fact, unique and well-crafted copy proves to be more delicious to search engines time and again (and continues to do so with every Google algorithm update). Read great blogs and books for inspiration and you’ll be writing dynamic posts in no time. Take the time to write it well — or have somebody else do it for you — and your blog will never feel dry again.
As social media experts, we’ve blogged a lot about Pinterest. This social media giant has taken our collective love of window shopping, image sharing and engaging to new heights. Brands of all sizes have turned to Pinterest to show off the latest products, run exclusive contests and generally create a buzz not possible on other networks. Yet in addition to being an incredible social media platform, Pinterest can also teach us a thing or two about blogging.
Oh, How Pinteresting is the company’s image-rich, gorgeous-looking blog. Fashion, interiors, food and weddings are some of the biggest categories on Pinterest. Therefore, posts filled with these topics are a no-brainer for the brand’s official blog. The happening-now Fashion Week, for example, has provided blogger fodder for days on Pinterest. From London to New York to backstage photos and on-the-street trends, Pinterest blogs about the things its users love about Fashion Week. The brand has even created special Fashion Week boards, which it wisely provides links to in every fashion-filled post.
The “point” of Pinterest is to inspire users to create collections (also known as boards) of images found on the web. These boards can be everything from birthday party ideas to kitchen makeovers. With this in mind, the Pinterest blog is also filled with tips and solutions on how to make the site work better for its users. Every recent site and mobile app update is blogged about here with the intention of making pinning even easier for the folks who already are wild about it. Other posts, like 10 Back To School Tips For Teachers, offer creative advice to users who utilize Pinterest in nontraditional ways.
Pinterest is a brand built on imagination, inspiration and creativity, so it’s fitting the blog sticks to that mission statement. But more than that, the blog speaks to more than just avid Pinterest users. The wording, the simple ideas and overall ease of the design invite and entice newbies to use Pinterest — which is exactly what our branded blog writing should do.
Blog creation can be used by businesses for millions of different reasons, and as blog marketing experts, we’ve seen them all. Or at least we thought we had: On Sunday, Mashable.com ran a piece about a company blog set up by its founders to hopefully save the company.
Two years ago, Erin Hopmann and Jess Lybeck started Dabble, an education startup which hosted a series of diverse online and in-person classes for Chicago residents. Fundraising and investments for the startup were moving along just fine and sales have been up this year. However, when it came to get the next round of funding, Hopmann and Lybeck had little to no luck. The crunch has been so bad that the founders stopped taking a salary and cut their staff down from 7 to 3. The pair hopes their blogging campaign, 30 Days of Honesty, will help get investors and consumers alike excited about their brand. The blog, which started on August 26, chronicles the ups and downs of running a startup.
“The dream would be that our knight in shining armor comes along with a belief in the business to fund it,” Hopmann told Mashable in an interview last week. “I think knowing [that option is] a stretch for 30 days, the other hope is awareness: People that use Dabble love it, so we just need more eyeballs.”
The campaign is not dissimilar to the viral Tumblr blog “My Startup Has 30 Days to Live” which served as an inspiration to Hopmann and Lybeck. While certainly unique, we’re not sure how effective the blog campaign to save Dabble will be. Only time will tell. We do know that these kinds of fundraising efforts for for-profit businesses in blogging aren’t usually received with open arms. In this era, nearly everyone knows of or has been a part of a business that failed or went under. So unless it’s for the greater good or a worthy cause, folks tend to roll their eyes at blogs that beg. Also, the campaign isn’t exactly selling readers on how great Dabble is and why it’s worth saving. Yet something about the campaign must be working, as it is definitely gaining publicity for the brand.
Readers, what do you think? Is this brilliant blog marketing or smug panhandling? Sound off below!