As the Content Director at an inbound marketing agency, I cringe when I visit our company’s blog and see that the most recent post was from more than a week ago. But sometimes, it just can’t be helped.
That’s because maintaining a regular blogging schedule can be extraordinarily difficult. Brainstorming topic ideas, writing, editing, proofreading, publishing, promoting -- it’s a lot to ask from a handful of writers who have a plate full of client work to do.
When it comes to small businesses, who may have only a business owner trying to maintain all inbound efforts, blogging regularly becomes all but impossible.
But none of that changes the fact that maintaining a regular blog is one of the best ways to keep leads coming into your site. Research has shown that 15 blogs a month can generate 1,200 new leads each month. That definitely seems worth the effort!
So how exactly are you supposed to blog 15 times a month when you can barely manage 1 a week? Short of making more hours in the day (and if I knew how to do that, I’d be swimming in my pool of money in a private colony on the moon), there’s only one way: get more writers.
“But writers are expensive,” you say. “And freelancers don’t know my business!”
This is true. But I’m not talking about hiring new writers or outsourcing your blog, I’m talking about making writers from the employees you already have.
Whether you know it or not, every person that works for you is a potential blogger. You just have to know how to convince them to contribute.
Put Out the Call
If you’ve been handling your company’s blogging duties on your own, you may be surprised to see what happens when you actually ask your co-workers or employees to contribute. You might already have an aspiring writer in your midst. At your next staff meeting, or even in a casual email, see if anyone has something they would like to contribute to the company blog.
This is also a great opportunity to explain how important good writing skills can be to anyone’s professional development and future ambitions, no matter what their ultimate career goal. In fact, one recent survey found that corporate recruiters ranked “strong writing skills as one of the top 5 critical factors to consider when selecting candidates to interview. That’s pretty important.
Of course, if your agency is growing and work is consistently rolling in, you might not get a huge response the first time around. Even people who want to write might be so swamped they don't dare to take on a new project that will take up their precious time.
While it's best not to badger anyone into writing for you, feel free to ask again, perhaps in a different way. If you made an announcement at a meeting, send a follow up email. Even better, if you know someone who you think would be a great asset to the blog, because of their experience, writing style, or energy reach out to them directly. A personal invitiation is definitely a compliment and may have better results.
Since I started tracing block letters in kindergarten, I’ve never been afraid of writing. That’s probably a big reason that content creation (which includes a lot of writing) has become a part of my career.
But I also understand that my experience is not the same as everyone else’s. For some people, writing conjures images of high school essays covered in red marks and all nighters trying to make sense of “Chicago Style.” Is it a new show from Dick Wolf? We just don’t know.
In short, writing can be scary. It’s your job to help burgeoning writers overcome these fears, and one of the best ways to do this is by finding out what the writer is passionate about. From there, you can begin to brainstorm blog topics that let this knowledge shine.
Of course, your new blogger can’t write exclusively about mountain biking or pie crusts, but it’s your job to find a way to incorporate their expertise and frame it in a way that applies to your blogging goals.
For example, if someone is an expert in mountain bike repair, they could probably craft a pretty compelling blog about how biking down a mountain on busted shocks is a lot like trying to generate leads without a landing page (it’s possible but not very comfortable or efficient).
A passionate home baker knows a lot about the importance of following processes in the right order -- not to mention measurement -- which are both essential pieces of inbound marketing, so why not help them craft a post that incorporates those elements?
When people are writing about something they care about, those initial fears fall away much easier. And the more they write, the more confident they will become writing about a broader range of topics.
I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.
- Douglas Adams
Another thing that can cause fear for new writers is deadlines. Come to think of it, deadlines scare me a little, too. But for writers who didn’t have blogging as part of their normal workload, it can be particularly daunting to add another looming date to their to do list.
A regular blogging schedule is great, but when you can be flexible with deadlines for new writers, they can feel a bit more comfortable and will ultimately produce something better.
The best way to do this is to make sure that you fit new writers' posts into your editorial calendar in a way that gives them a ton of time. Be sure to build in a little extra time for a round or two of edits and some thorough proofreading and you will both be able to breathe a little easier.
The best blog posts are backed up by data along with personal experience. New writers might not know where to begin looking for the kind of data they need to support their posts, but you do.
When you’re assigning topics, be sure to provide plenty of resources -- from blogs to trade industry publications and even social influencers -- that your writers can pull from to help them find ideas and statistics.
For first time bloggers, it could also be a good idea to offers some tips and resources on some of the blogging best practices that you may take for granted, like:
- Proper linking/citation guidelines
- Internal linking practices
- How to include CTAs
- Grammar, spelling, and punctuation
As you recruit more writers for you blog, consider creating an internal document that goes through your company's internal blogging guidelines. You can collect the resources you share While you're at it, this might be a great time to refresh your own knowledge of how to optimize your blog for lead generation.
Give Great Feedback
You’ve been writing blogs for a while, so you know what you like and what works. But when you get your first blog post back from a brand new writer, don’t expect it to be perfect or to match exactly what you’ve been doing.
And don’t rush into editing, rearranging, and making the post presentable as you see it. Instead, sit down with your fledgling writer and go through your notes. Don’t be mean or dismissive (this should be a given as an editor anyhow). Give actionable notes and examples of great writing to encourage new writers to keep going.
It’s a real ‘teach a blogger to fish’ situation. If you go hog wild on editing and publish a post that’s unrecognizable to the writer, it’s going to be really difficult to convince that person to keep writing for you.
But if you can give constructive feedback (as well as praise where it’s deserved!) it will go a long way towards create a longterm contributor for your blog, and more lead generating content for your company.
Set Your Bloggers Free
When you give new writers the right tools to succeed, you are contributing to their professional development while also making an important impact on the future of your company.
The first few blog posts can definitely be challenging from both sides. After all, you have just as much on your plate as your employees and you might not feel as though you have the time to sit down with new writers, provide great feedback, and give them a space in your tightly controlled editorial calendar.
But just like a few minutes in the gym everyday can add years to your life, a few minutes with a new writer can add tons of content to your blog. That is, the upfront investment is well worth it for the payout.
If scheduling is really an issue, consider hosting office hours for new writers. Once a week, block off your schedule and plan to take questions, give notes, and work with new writers for an hour. Once they get off and running, you will have that time to work while still fielding questions as they come in.
The best part of spending even a little bit of time working with your new team of writers is that you will be able to set them free from your editorial grasp a lot sooner than you think. And there is nothing quite so satisfying as being able to teach someone a new skill and then see it be utilized right away.
Building a company blog that’s driving leads to your site takes the help of the whole company, and not just because it’s a huge job. The fact is that your regularly updated blog can quickly become your company’s top source of traffic. That means it should be a good representation of your company, its values, and how you solve problems for your key buyer personas.
There is no better way to do that then to have people from throughout your company contribute. These writers add fresh voices and new perspectives while at the same time keeping your blog going and growing your business.
With these tips, you should be able to rally a team of writers that can help bring your blog to life.