There are three worries that stop some would-be bloggers. That what they write won’t be read, that if it does get read it won’t benefit their organisation in any way, and that they open themselves up to negative or just plain crazy comments.
Here’s how you can tackle the three big risks of blogging, and convince your CEO and trustees that blogging isn’t as scary as sounds.
Nobody reads it
You need to be tracking your web statistics using a tool like Google Analytics from day one, otherwise you’re shooting in the dark. You don’t know if anyone’s actually reading your content, what your most popular content is, and how people are finding it.
The key numbers to keep an eye on at first are the number of Pageviews, and the number of Unique Views to your content. Pageviews is simply the number of times the page has been looked at by someone, and unique views is the number of different people that have looked at it.
You can get this information a few hours after your post goes live, but remember how much value is in the long tail. The steady stream of traffic that might come from search engines for years after you hit publish.
Given the tiniest of pushes, great content really does spread itself online. That’s what makes the Internet so interesting, brilliant and distracting. So if you’re not getting many visitors it’s probably because you’re not responding to the needs and interests of your audience. Consider asking your target audience what they’d love to read more about.
You should also make sure you’re giving it that first push. Are you including the post in your newsletter? Tweeting and Facebooking it? Telling your staff and volunteers? E-mailing other bloggers to let them know about it?
It doesn’t get results
There’s a few reasons why your blog posts might not be contributing to your organisations aims and objectives.
One problem might be that although people are finding your posts, they’re not hanging around to read them. Use web analytics tools to look for a healthy average time on page, and a low bounce and exit rate.
If people are sticking around to read, that’s great, but why aren’t they turning into supporters, volunteers or donors? The usual problem is that you aren’t asking them to! By ending each post with a clear call to action that’s easy to do there and then online, you can convert readers into results.
The last, and most difficult issue to figure out is that your audience might just not be right. Are you sure the content you’re writing is going to reach supporters of your cause, and not those who are indifferent or even against it?
Clues of this are a high bounce rate, and a high percentage of traffic from unrelated websites or from search terms that contain phrases that don’t really line up with what you stand for. For example, if you’re writing for a Vegan charity about battery farming to make burgers, you don’t really want the summer BBQ crowd stumbling on your blog from Google on the hunt for beef burger recipes!
One of the most popular questions I get asked when doing speeches about blogging is, ‘we had someone leave a negative comment about us on our blog, what should we do?’. My answer might surprise you.
I think that one of the best outcomes of any blog is a bunch of negative comments. You should be happy every time you see one, and here’s why.
If someone’s saying bad things about you on your blog, it’s likely that lots more people are saying the same thing off your blog. A negative comment presents the perfect opportunity to address a usually unfounded concern in a semi-public way.
Never delete these comments. Always respond in a polite, friendly and helpful way, explaining your position on the issue and offering regret at the fact they’re upset. You’d be surprised how often this can turn some of your most vocal critics into active supporters. Just the very fact you’re taking the time to speak to them can catch them completely off guard.
Remember, you can control what’s on your blog, but you can’t control what’s on other websites, on twitter feeds or what people are chatting about down the pub. A negative blog comment can be a rare insight into what people are saying behind your back, and give you a chance to address it directly with someone who may be a cheer-leader for that point of view.
When you start a blog, there’s no guarantee that everything will go smoothly. You’re taking a risk, unsure whether it will gather a decent audience or have any effect at all. However, with the advice in this blog, you have the best possible chance of success. Good luck!
If you’d like some more information or advice on the subject, feel free to get in touch, or subscribe to our newsletter. Also, we’re publishing many blog posts as a follow on to this topic on our website, so stay tuned!