PART 3: STARTING AND DEVELOPING A SUCCESSFUL NONPROFIT BLOG


By James D’Ambrosio

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

If you’ve read — and absorbed — the previous two columns, you’re well prepared to start posting articles. The focus now is building a dedicated readership and turning those readers into subscribers — they’re e-mailed whenever you post something new — that will comment on articles and create a dialogue.

To be sure, building a readership takes time — at least several months, perhaps longer, depending on how often you blog. With so many choices on the Internet, you’ve got lots of competition (remember the 200 million blogs I talked about?) Blogging is the polar opposite of  “build it and they will come.” It’s more like “swimming out to your ship, and building it, too.” There’s no getting around this work — strong effort will eventually be rewarded. 

That said, here are ways to spread word of your blog and create interest:

 PUBLICIZING/DRIVING TRAFFIC TO YOUR BLOG

 ♦ E-MAIL, WEB SITE, NEWSLETTER: Start with your personal network by adding a link to your blog on your e-mail signature (provide a complete URL). Every time you send an e-mail, recipients can click the link and visit. Precede it with a short tag line such as “Check out our new blog.” Next, place a link on your Web site, and an ad in your printed or e-newsletter. These venues will tap into an audience already interested in your agency or cause. Leverage that network and then branch out (see below). 

SOCIAL MEDIA: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were crucial in building my readership; they can work for you as well. After posting an article, place a brief description on each site and provide the link. This gets you into the mainstream. Taking it a step further, join nonprofit groups on LinkedIn closely related to your cause or mission. For this blog, I joined a variety of nonprofit and communication groups, posting notifications to each. This was — by far — the largest single factor in exponentially increasing my blog traffic: over a five-month period, I increased monthly page views from 123 to over 1,000 — nearly a ten-fold increase!

COMMENTING ON OTHER BLOGS: This is an area I’ve yet to fully explore, but definitely worth pursuing. Research blogs related to your cause or subject matter, and comment knowledgeably on them. Many blogs allow comments and a place to list your own blog address. This will help generate interest from the blog owner and it’s readers — another audience you want to attract. A note of caution: make certain your comments are substantive and add to the conversation. Otherwise, you won’t be taken seriously. 

 ♦ TIMING IS IMPORTANT: From my experience, when you post an article — and publicize it on the Internet — is nearly as important as the content itself. Think in business terms. I’ve generated the most traffic posting on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings between 10-11 a.m. During mid-week people are more focused on work and late in the morning are fully engaged. Avoid posting on Friday afternoon or Monday morning when people are focused on the weekend or not in full work mode. 

As you can see, it’s important to reach out to different audiences. The above strategies worked for me, but there are other approaches, so experiment a bit and see what happens. Hopefully this article —  and the series in general — helps you become established more quickly in the blogosphere.  

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QUESTION TO READERS: Any other ideas/suggestions you’d like to share about  blogging?               

 

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