Blogging is not dead. Far from it. In today’s episode, Jeremy answers a question from a nonprofit executive about how much blogging is right for his organization. This executive is being told by his team to blog every day, but doesn’t understand why. Jeremy explores the types of posts we should write, how to measure the effectiveness of each one, and addresses the frequency of blogging. How do you decide how many times to blog a week or a month?
It’s really easy to get stuck looking at best practices, or what other organizations are doing, and assume that that’s the way you have to do it at your nonprofit. It’s easy to get stuck thinking that if I just keep doing the same thing that I’ve always done, then something will change, and things will get better. In today’s question, we really challenge that notion of, do we need to follow what the industry says is best practice? Do we need to follow what another organization is doing, when they may not have it figured out either? Their strategy might be just based on the fact that they’ve always done it this way, and they may have nothing behind it proving whether or not what they’re doing is successful.
Today, we’re going to talk about blogging. We’re going to talk about the frequency of blogging, and what and how and whether your organization should be blogging. We’re going to go through the reasons why you should blog, and how to determine whether or not blogging at your organization, that you’re doing enough of it, doing the right amount, and doing the right kind of blogging. So, let’s jump right in.
My name’s Bill, and I’m a Chief Development Officer at a community service organization in Las Vegas. My content team is posting to our blog daily, and they tell me this is standard. I asked about the return on investment for their time, but they haven’t been able to provide me many details about why we’re doing it. Should we be posting to our blog daily? I would think weekly would be find.
Hi, Bill. Thanks so much for your question about blogging, the frequency of blogging, and what the return on investment on your content creation is. I think you’re really asking some good questions from your team. You’re really asking them to really focus on the why of what they’re doing with blogging, and not just to read best practices and to assume that blogging daily is the right thing to do in every circumstance. It may not be for your organization.
So, I’m going to run through a couple of things that you should really focus on as you make the decision on your content marketing plan as it comes to blogging itself. What are some of the key factors you should keep in mind, how you think about a blog strategy, what you goals should be, how frequently you should blog, some considerations about that, and then what you need to do to coach your staff to give you the answers that you need, in order to answer this question of whether or not you should be blogging each day, or some other frequency of time.
It’s very important that whenever we’re expending our resources, because we have so many limited resources as nonprofit organizations. It’s really important that we focus on the strategy behind why we’re doing what we’re doing, and not just do something because we’ve always done it that way, or because we read about another organization that’s doing it that way, or because we believe that that’s the best practice, and we don’t really know why we’re doing it.
The first thing to think about is the blog strategy. Why are you blogging? Why do you guys have a blog as your content creation piece for your organization? I do believe in blogging. I do not believe that blogging is dead. I do believe that blogging is a great way to expose your organization, both to your existing donor audience, and to new people that might want to support your organization. So, here’s a few things to think about as you build out your blogging strategy.
One of the key things that you need to really consider is the whys of blogging, and why is your organization blogging? So, I’m going to walk through five different reasons why your organization could blog, and then what we want to do is then assign some metrics to measure those things. So, if you identify these as five reasons why you want to blog, how do you measure those things so that you know whether or not you’re doing a good job with them? It’s not enough to just identify your blog strategy. You also need to identify how you’re going to measure your performance against that blog strategy.
First, one of the reasons that you would blog is to demonstrate thought leadership in your space. For many organizations, it’s important that the Executive Director, President, Chief Programs Officer, someone there, that they are set up as a thought leader in the space, and that your organization is known as one of the leaders for the cause that you are working towards.
Practically, how this looks is, this may be a type of blog post that you put out there. This is probably not the only blog post that you’re putting out there, but it may be one of many types of blog posts that you’re putting out there, and often it’s a very in-depth look at a particular portion of the topic area, the niche that your organization is in and is working towards.
Measuring thought leadership is probably one of the more difficult tasks. There’s not a lot of metrics that say you are a thought leader in this space. How I would measure it is to look at ownership of keywords in search engines around this topic area. And so, if you are designing blog posts for thought leadership as one of your primary strategy items, you would want to definitely have search engine optimization as a key part of how you write those blog posts, identify the keywords you’re going to be targeting that will draw the right people in for those thought leadership posts, and then look at how your organization ranks for those particular keywords. That’s probably the cleanest way to measure thought leadership.
Another method is to see how many media placements that you’re able to receive interviews and such for the kind of content that you’re creating, because ein your space, you’re going to often find niche websites, journals, other news websites, where they have interest in talking to experts in the thought leadership areas that you write about. So, if your blog is able to draw in those reporters, those writers who are writing articles or doing interviews with people in the space that your organization is in, then those posts will then demonstrate some thought leadership, and thus be measurable towards that goal of media placements.
Second part of a blog strategy is, you may be creating blog posts for conversion opportunities. Blogging is an excellent way to connect with potential and current donors, and to move them down the path to make a donation for a specific area of where you work. So, conversation opportunities, this would be a blog post that is written with the idea in mind that somebody will take an action at the end of it, whether that action is to make a donation, or become a volunteer, or to advocate on behalf of your organization. A conversion opportunity post is fairly easy to measure and to determine success in, as the result is a very specific thing that you’re asking people to convert on.
Third, you might want to increase brand recognition for your organization. These types of blog posts will really hit on topics and stories that increase the exposure of your organization to people who may have not heard of your organization. Brand recognition is also something that’s … I don’t know if it would be termed as easy to measure, but again, this is similar to thought leadership in that I would look at share of keywords with SEO, and to see how well you rank for those particular articles that talk about a key topic that would allow you to expose your brand to a new audience.
We also use blog posts as a source of stories for our fundraising, and so one of the techniques that we use is to put stories out there that then our agency can pull from those to write fundraising direct mail pieces or emails. It’s a very easy source for them to go find the story that can be easily moved into a fundraising appeal.
Finally, you may use your blog as a tool to increase your search engine optimization. There’s kind of an area of search engine optimization that is really the content footprint you put out there for your organization. For example, at Food for the Hungry, one of the keywords or phrases that we want to rank for is “child sponsorship,” and so we have a lot of blog content that is about child sponsorship, and one of the primary goals of that content is to increase our content footprint, so that when people search for, that Google’s robot, when it searches our site and indexes our site, that it determines that child sponsorship is an important term that relates to FH.org.
You may have similar keywords that you want as keywords that draw into your organization’s site, and using those keywords in multiple blog posts will help the search engines understand what your site is about.
Those are the five areas that you may consider for your blog strategy: Thought leaderships, conversion opportunities, increasing brand recognition, sourcing stories, and for search engine optimization. Within each of those, there is very identifiable metrics that allow you to measure whether or not your blogging is being effective for your organization. Many of those metrics are SEO-related. How are you ranking for certain keywords in search? Search is still a very powerful tool to draw people into your site, and a very powerful tool to draw people in that will convert and become supporters of your organization.
Back to your question on how frequently do you blog? I don’t really have an answer as a specific number, once per day, or three times per week, or once per week. I think there’s a couple things that you need to be aware of when you make the decision on how frequently that you should blog.
The first thing to think about is, the one thing that I always preach is, be consistent in your content creation. If you can only create one a week, then create one a week, but be consistent in creating that one post a week. If you can create five a week, then just be consistent in creating those five a week. In whatever you do, being consistent is important for your audience to understand when and how they can digest your content.
Second, you need to set goals and produce your content for that. And so, for those five areas that we talked about for blog strategy, thought leadership, conversion opportunities, increasing brand recognition, creating a source of stories, and using it for search engine optimization, assign a metric and then a goal for each one of those areas, so you can know whether or not you’re being effective. Let those goals or those metrics really drive how much content that you’re producing.
Some of the considerations that you should think about when blogging is, how many people do you have, resources available, and how much time to they have to create content for your blog? There’s going to be lost opportunities for their time. So, though your content team may think they have plenty of people and plenty of time to blog five days a week, they have to think about the lost opportunities of creating lead magnets, or creating better conversion content on your website. Those lost opportunities could be worth a lot of money to your organization.
Those are some of the considerations to think about when you’re setting your frequency. What could those people be doing besides blogging, that has a really effective payoff for your organization?
Now, it’s time to coach your staff. You mentioned in your question that you’ve asked for numbers, as to what the reasoning is behind why you’re blogging five days a week, and they haven’t been able to provide them. So, you’re going to need to coach your staff as to why are you blogging? You need to ask them those questions. You need to tell them, they need to identify those areas that are part of a strategy for blogging, and to not simply blog for the sake of blogging.
Second, you need to ask them, what are the goals that match up to those strategic items that you’re talking about with blogging? What do they want to achieve? Not necessarily what are they achieving right now, but what do they want to achieve? If they can’t answer that question, then why are you blogging at all?
Next, you want to assign some metrics to show how well you’re doing at reaching those goals. Let’s say, for example, that you were writing a conversion opportunity blog post, and you’ve identified that the metric that you want to measure is new donors coming on file, and the amount of the donations that they’ve made. Then you would assign goals to each one of those metrics to say, we want 10 new donors every week to come from our blog to the site. Assigning those goals, and the metrics to measure what those goals are, is extremely important, because if you’re not measuring how well you’re performing, then how can you make a strategic decision about how often you should blog without that kind of data?
And finally, you need to explain to your team that you’re really going to make this decision based on the metrics, so if they don’t have the data, then the decision is easy. The decision is that you’re going to stop blogging, and the decision is because nobody knows what the goals are, so you don’t have a good strategy behind it. Nobody knows how to measure to those goals, and so you may be creating blog posts that are completely ineffective for your organization.
So, why would you want to waste time and resources creating content that’s ineffective for your organization, when you could be expending those resources better to do things like creating better conversion content, creating content that’s more relational nature, to deepen the relationship with your donors. There’s lots of other things that you could be doing with those time resources and the people resources, and if they can’t measure the impact of what they’re doing in blogging, then you probably should be blogging at all.
I hope those tidbits of information really help you as you make the decision on how often, and how much, and what types of blog posts that you’re going to be doing moving forward, and I hope it really helps to coach your team along, to understand that you need to make decisions based on actual results, and not make decisions just because it’s what other people are doing, what similar organizations are doing, or because someone thinks that’s the best way to do it.
Thanks so much, Bill. I appreciate your question. If you have a question, please, I would love for you to come to NonprofitAnswers.org. Submit your question. Hopefully we will see it in a future podcast episode. Thanks, and take care.
Thank you for joining us on the Nonprofit Answer podcast. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, so more nonprofit leaders can find the answers they need to raise more money to help more people. Do you have a question about nonprofit marketing or fundraising? You can submit it at NonprofitAnswers.org.