How Do You Manage Your Blog?
Maintaining a blog is no easy task—especially if you want it to serve as the cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy. While you may be fortunate enough to have an in-house team or point person dedicated to planning, creating, and implementing blog content for your site, it’s generally the case that multiple people in the office contribute content when they can or that a firm will enlist the help of a trusted marketing partner like LaFleur Legal Marketing to manage their blog for them.
While we’d be delighted to help you with any or all of your content development needs, we also believe in providing visitors to our site with practical tips that will help them take their digital marketing to the next level and bring new clients to their doorsteps. With that goal in mind, we’ve outlined some of the most important steps for managing blog content with a team of diverse writers. Happy writing!
Step 1: Gather Ideas
There’s nothing worse than clearing out a respectable block of time in your busy schedule to write some quality content for your blog only to end up staring at a blank screen for what feels like an eternity with nothing to say. And while it's fairly easy to delegate a vague task like "write something for the blog" to someone else, the writer to whom you assign that task will likely suffer that same fate (and later have to sheepishly admit they didn’t get as far along as they had hoped) if they aren’t given at least some direction.
This is why it’s important to continuously be on the lookout for ideas that you can develop for blog posts or blog series. Because I almost always have the ability to access my email (and I come back to it often), I like to keep a running thread in my inbox with ideas for blog content for both our own blog and our clients’ blogs. See an interesting news article or opinion piece? Send the link to yourself. Have a great idea while you’re out with friends or family? Jot down a quick summary of the idea and email it to yourself. Have someone ask you an interesting question that other people might want to know the answer to? Email it to yourself.
If email isn’t your style, grab a pile of memo pads and keep one on your person at all times (I’ve got a bright yellow one next to my computer right now). When you’re waiting in line or (safely) at a complete standstill in traffic, pull it out and jot down anything that comes to mind. Ideas are all around us, and the best ones often strike us at times when our minds are preoccupied with something else. The key is finding a way to collect those ideas into one place so you can sort through them at a convenient time and pick the best ones to develop for blog content.
Step 2: Plan, Plan, Plan!
When you’re trying to coordinate the efforts of multiple people, it’s important to make a plan before diving in. There’s something to be said for a team that works well organically with people contributing their own material when inspiration strikes, but over the long run, there’s bound to be duplicate efforts and inefficiency. When gripping, noteworthy events occur, for example, you may find that everyone is inspired to write about it, which means you’re likely to get multiple variations of what is essentially the same piece. And when you have a complex topic that warrants a series of posts—perhaps from different people with different areas of expertise—then planning becomes even more important.
Below are a few essential components of the planning process along with strategies for delegating writing out to others in a way that communicates your plan:
Define the target audience.
If you’re asking one of your colleagues or employees to write about something, they need to know who they’re supposed to be writing to. Are they writing to their peers? Are they writing to a general audience? Are they writing to potential clients? Are they writing to former clients? There’s an art (and science) to developing the personas of your target audience that would require an entire blog post of its own to describe, but it’s crucial to define the audience before writing begins to maintain consistency and make your content relevant to readers.
Having only one or two words to go off of can make writing incredibly difficult; for example, if someone asked me to write an article about “blog content,” there are an almost infinite number of directions I could go. While it’s sometimes nice to have that kind of freedom as a writer, the person sending out the request usually has something more specific in mind, even if they’re not always proficient at communicating it. So it’s better to provide more concrete direction by drafting a descriptive working title, like “Planning and Executing Blog Content with Multiple Writers.”
Enumerate any critical points that must be covered—or avoided.
Providing a working title is certainly helpful, but you also need to list any key points that need to be covered (or avoided) when coordinating multiple writers’ efforts—whether those points are critical (or anathema) to the topic at hand or to avoid overlapping information or ideas that other writers may be working on.
This is especially important when coordinating multiple people’s efforts in a blog series since the posts within that series will likely all be on one specific topic—but will each need to have a unique and more narrowly defined focus.
Establish a clear and reasonable timeline.
Whether you’re asking for a standalone piece from one person or coordinating multiple pieces from multiple writers as part of a larger series of blog posts, having hard deadlines for when the work needs to be complete is crucial for keeping the content on your blog fresh and keeping the visitors to your site engaged.
While it’s certainly okay to toss assignments out there without deadlines and/or let your colleagues or employees contribute pieces when they feel inspired to write, there should also be plan in place for posting on a regular schedule. (Once a week is a good goal to strive for.)
That being said, deadlines also need to be reasonable. Provide enough time (perhaps a week or two at the very least) so someone can fit the writing into what is almost certainly an already busy schedule.
Take your guidance to the next level.
Knowing the audience they’re writing to, having a specific direction to pursue, having a good idea of the most important talking points to include (or avoid), and having a clear deadline should provide writers with the essentials they need to generate quality content that meets your expectations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be even more helpful.
There are hundreds of different ways to provide more guidance; below are just a few of the most effective:
- Jot down a scratch outline for the general trajectory of the piece you envision being created.
- List some sources that will be helpful as the writer delves into the research phase of the writing process.
- Point to examples of content that you think the writer could emulate.
- Clarify expectations about length, tone, formatting, and any other stylistic considerations.
- Explain any other ideas you had as you worked through the planning process.
Step 3: Make Yourself Available
Once the plan is established and communicated to the individuals who will be writing, you can just sit back and watch the work come in, right? Not exactly. Perhaps more important than anything else listed above, you need to make yourself available to clarify expectations, answer questions, and provide any other support. Perhaps even worse than staring at a blank screen is waiting on an answer to an important question while you’re in the middle of working; nothing can be more aggravating, especially if you’re on a deadline.
Step 4: Follow Up
Once a piece does come in, make sure to carefully look it over and provide constructive feedback. Using tracked changes, putting together a quick email with your thoughts, or even marking up a hard copy are all great, simple ways to provide feedback to the person who wrote your content—and hopefully help them create even better material in the future.
Step 5: Refine and Repeat
Even the best-laid plans often go awry, and there’s no shame in failure—as long as we learn something valuable from it. One of the best things about managing your blog is that it needs new content and new ideas every week; that means every week you can essentially start from scratch and try again using the knowledge and experience you gained from your previous experiences.
Of course, one of the worst things about managing a blog is that it needs new content and new ideas every week. If you’ve hit a dry spell, if you and your team are suffering from collective writer’s block, or if you’re too busy to keep your content fresh and relevant, you’re missing out on opportunities to engage new clients. LaFleur specializes in content development for the legal industry. With Master’s-level writers and editors on staff, you can rest assured that you will be delivered some of the best content on the web—and that you’ll be able to dominate your competition. Call 888-222-1512 to find out how we can help grow your business.