Blogs are a great way to engage your internal and external audiences. And if you run a blog in your organization, it can take up a good chunk of your time. You are responsible for providing content consistently, in addition to performing your other responsibilities. Sometimes you need a little help. That’s when you might solicit aspiring writers in your organization (or even the audience of an external-facing blog) to write for your blog.
I’ve even had experience with unsolicited volunteers offering to write regular content. At first, I thought it was a blessing to have others willing to help out and take a little pressure off me to produce every blog post. But the euphoria didn’t last long. More on that in a minute.
Being a blog editor means you’re ultimately responsible for making sure there’s content to read. That means you need to act like an editor. It’s nice when coworkers or audience members volunteer to be a part of your blog, but results matter. If they don’t ultimately produce material for you to post, and ultimately cause you cause you to create content yourself, then they really aren’t doing you any favors.
So here are some actions to take when working with colleagues who want to write for your blog.
Get Them To Give You A List Of Topics
When I ran the internal blog for my former company, I would periodically receive requests from employees who wanted to write for it. A few even proclaimed that they wanted to write at least one a week. Great! Right?
Unfortunately, the literary fire that burned within the bellies of these aspiring writers quickly fizzled out. I probably received no more than three posts for any of them.
Looking back, when I received a commitment from potential content providers, I would have asked them to give me a list of topics – five or so – that they wanted to write. This does two things: It makes the would-be blogger figure out if they do in fact, have the ability to provide regular content; and it reinforces the notion that posts are expected. It’s not enough to say, “Oh, great! I really appreciate your willingness to write!” If you’re responsible for a blog, you need to ensure there is content to be had.
Provide Them With An Editorial Calendar
If you have an editorial calendar created in Outlook or another internal platform, share it with your bloggers. Insert their post ideas on the dates you intend them to be published… and activate reminders. It’s a good way to keep them on schedule and it once again reinforces that you expect content.
Set Deadlines and Expectations
It’s pretty much a given that if you don’t set deadlines, few things will get done. As stated above, you should put the publish dates on your editorial calendar. But as an editor, you know that there needs to be time between when the post is finalized and when it’s published. So don’t just set the date the blog will post, establish a date when you want to review the final product. You want it to post on the designated day. If it still needs tweaks, that slows you down.
With your other day-to-day responsibilities, it’s hard to be vigilant about making sure your bloggers are on target with their content. But vigilant you should be. Check in with them at least once or twice a week just to make sure they’re confident they will reach their goals. It helps to keep that literary belly fire hot, but will also give you fair warning if a deadline will be missed and you need to find an alternative source of content.
Again, it’s great if someone volunteers to help you with the organization’s blog. You need the help. But if the posts you receive are consistently sub-par, you’re not achieving your ultimate goal – providing valuable, engaging content to your audience.
If major rewrites are required, that means more effort and time expended on your part. So if your would-be writer just doesn’t have what it takes – or if the potential is there, but the work consistently misses the mark – then that should be made known. If you think the problem can be fixed, let the blogger know what he/she needs to work on.
If you’ve run, or currently run, your organization’s blog, what’s your experience been with “guest bloggers?” Have you been able to get regular content, or have you had some hiccups? Let me know in the Comment section below!
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