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How to Blog (And Why it Matters)

Posted by on July 29th, 2020
Posted in Blog, Digital, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Web, Social Media   

With so many platforms in your digital ecosystem, it can be difficult to navigate where a blog fits in. But first, let’s back up and talk about why your organization should be posting blog content in the first place.

What is the Purpose of a Blog?

Although your website is primarily a place for information – details such as your mission, values, or programs – your blog is the living, breathing place where fresh content can evolve. It’s a key opportunity for unique, timely, impact-driven storytelling that reinforces your brand. Blog posts are doubly valuable in that you can promote them across your various digital platforms, such as social media or an e-newsletter. Just one blog post can create multiple opportunities to be visible to your various audiences.

Where to Start

Consider Your Audience: Who are your brand’s target audiences – and more specifically, which will be reading your posts? Understanding your audience, and what they want from your organization, is crucial to know before you brainstorm blog topics or formats. For example, blog posts aimed at large-dollar donors who have known your organization for years are likely to have a different tone (and a different call to action) than communications aimed at small-dollar donors who just found you.

Leverage Key Messaging: Your communications should use messages that reinforce your brand – and your blog is no different. How can you insert key messages in your post to help introduce your organization to new audiences, or to describe the impact of your work in a way that is unique to you?

End with a Call to Action: Don’t miss out on the opportunity to encourage your inspired readers to take action. End the post with a concise but action-driven statement that motivates readers to take that next step, whether it be to make a donation, sign a petition, or join your e-newsletter list. The call to action should relate to the topic of the blog post so that the ask doesn’t appear unfounded.

Formats to Consider

Once you have those details confirmed, it’s time to brainstorm a list of topics. Here are a few popular blog formats to get you started:

  • The how-to: Describing how to do something, ideally focusing on your organization’s expertise in that area (“How to Replace Your Biggest Event with an Online Campaign,” for example).
  • The listicle: A list of items under one theme (“3 Musts for a Stand-Out Admissions Campaign,” for example).
  • The testimonial/guest blog: A collection of testimonials or a guest post from members of your community that reinforce the impact of your organization or a specific initiative. These posts are key to building authenticity, given that they are written in that person’s voice rather than the voice of your organization.
  • The news/advocacy update: General timely updates relevant to your work that your audience needs to be aware of. Be sure to explain why you’re sharing the information so that readers understand why it’s relevant to them.
  • Informational posts: Content that answers commonly asked questions in your organization’s work (“What is affordable housing?” for example).

Refresh Cornerstone Content

Although you shouldn’t frequently recycle blog posts, some topics may prove to be cornerstone; posts that become an important part of your digital content strategy. As time passes, you may not want to abandon that post just because it’s no longer “recent” – and that’s okay! These pieces can be refreshed on an ongoing basis to make them more relevant using the following approaches:

  • Changing the topic scope
  • Updating it to be more timely/in alignment with a recent event
  • Introducing a new format
  • Adding information that was not stated before

Blog vs. Medium/LinkedIn Articles

A popular move for some organizations has been to abandon their blog entirely and move to publishing longer-form thought pieces on platforms like Medium and LinkedIn, given the wide reach of these channels. Although a sound tactic for some, there are important considerations to weigh:

  • Are your target audiences active on these platforms? No matter how engaging the content is, it won’t serve your digital strategy if your audiences aren’t there to find it in the first place.
  • Do the people that would be publishing this content already have a following on these platforms? Let’s say your Executive Director is an active LinkedIn user that frequently publishes posts and articles. Having them publish content about your organization will feel authentic and engaging to both your organization’s brand and their personal brand. But if they are not active, publishing this content out of nowhere could feel inauthentic to those who see it, which likely won’t be as many as you’d like if they don’t have many connections or followers.
  • Is it worth pushing users off of your website to view this content on another platform? Housing your blog on your website keeps audiences on your site longer, allowing them to further engage with your organization.

Prioritize Asset-Based Framing

The stories you tell in your communications should use asset-based – rather than deficit-based – descriptions of those you serve or the people involved with your work. Stories that focus on aspirations change the power dynamic, creating an image of interdependence rather than dependence, which oftentimes leads to problematic dynamics like White saviorism.

The individual stories of your impact are not yours to tell; they belong to that individual. They should have ownership over how it is told, ensuring that the narrative it promotes is one of equity – defining them by what they have accomplished, rather than focusing on the challenges they faced in getting there. In planning your blog content, consider the audiences or individuals you are telling stories on behalf of and always frame their experience through an asset-based lens.

Need to refresh your digital content strategy? Mission Minded can help! Let us know how we can support your next web or digital project.

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