PART II: STARTING AND DEVELOPING A SUCCESSFUL NONPROFIT BLOG


By James D’Ambrosio

(This is the second in a series on nonprofit blogging)

Building on last column, I’ll move on to the next steps in preparing to post that first article. Before you do, it’s important to create the necessary informational and technical infrastructure that will give your blog a true professional look and feel.

KEY ELEMENTS OF A PROFESSIONAL BLOG   

 ♦ BLOGROLL: A blogroll is a list of links to other blogs on the Internet with related content. This serves two purposes: a) it shows you’re interested in meeting the informational needs of readers; and b) it keeps your blog ‘sticky,’ giving visitors another reason to stay on your site after reading an article.  To accomplish this, scour the Internet and review content of blogs similar to your focus. Begin with 6-8; you can always add more later. I’m gradually expanding my list (see left sidebar). 

♦ A PROFESSIONAL PHOTO: Provide a professional-quality photo of the primary blogger and insert it into each post. This literally ‘puts a face’ on your blog and helps readers relate with you as a person. 

♦ PAGES: A good blog provides background and context. Include a “Biography” or “Bio” page with 2-3 paragraphs about the author’s professional background and some information about outside interests. Also create an “About” page — a few paragraphs discussing what you’ll write about, why it’s important, and how often you’ll post. Also add your photo to this page. (Review the pages at the top of the screen.) 

SUBSCRIPTION BUTTON: Make it easy for readers to access posts with a sign-up button: when visitors enter their e-mail and subscribe to your blog, they will be notified each time you post new material. WordPress helps you create this. (Note sign-up button on right). 

SHARING BUTTONS: Adding sharing buttons after each post — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg, etc. — allows  readers to promote your articles across the Internet. While you’ll need to do your own promotion — a subject I’ll discuss in Part III — let readers extend your reach to a wider audience. 

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A BOOK TO HELP: The above tasks require a certain amount of technical knowledge and ability. If you’re planning to use WordPress, I recommend “WordPress: Visual Quickstart Guide” that walks you through the process with screen shots and detailed information. I found it very helpful when I was getting started. A new second edition, due out October 22, is available from Amazon for $19.99: http://amzn.to/putna8.  

Following these steps will set you apart from others who may not understand the value of — or take the time to — provide these elements. As noted earlier, blogging is all about providing value to your audience. Do it consistently, and, over time, you’ll build a loyal readership.

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QUESTION TO READERS: Anything you would like to add? Something else you think can help others?

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