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February 10, 2010

4 Pillars of Excellent Blogging: Pillar 1 Consistency

There are four pillars to successful blogging – Consistency, Content, Tone, and Community.  Each one is as important as the other.  Over the next few weeks, on this very blog, I will provide my take on the role of each of these in crafting an engaging blog.  Today, I’ll start with my personal nemesis…Consistency.

Consistent blogging is as important as the content you write about (and the tone you use and the community you write for).  It’s hard to believe, but it’s true.  First, a regularly updated blog gives something for other bloggers to pay attention to and comment on which is crucial for increasing the exposure to your site.  Other bloggers will not pay attention to a site if they do not perceive any commitment to keeping it up to date.  There are other sources that are updated regularly that can give them what they need.   And, as we will learn in "Pillar 4 - Community," your fellow bloggers will play an important part in driving traffic to your site.  Same goes for your intended audience.  Believe it or not, they aren’t sitting around waiting for your organization’s latest missive.  Crazy, I know.  If there isn’t regular communication of interest to them, they will forget about you and are less likely to check back in.  Regularly updated blogs are particularly helpful when it comes to SEO, creating content for other online activities (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, email, etc.), and developing relationships with your supporters or service recipients.  An neglected blog doesn't do any of these things in the best case.  In the worst case, it may hurt your relationship with your users because you do not really seem interested or because spammers take over your comments wall.

Of course, no one starts a blog with the expectation that they’ll stop blogging after three weeks.  But statistics show that this is what happens in the vast vast number of blogs.  So only start, if ready to keep at it for the long haul.

The same is true if you are like me and many others and write a post sporadically every month or so.   (This is definitely a “do as I say, not as I do” scenario, by the way.) 
Here are some ways to ensure your blog gets the attention it deserves:

  • Determine frequency of posts:  Whether it is daily, or 2-3 times a week, know exactly how many posts need to be posted each week and then work backward to sort out the staffing required (or staffing that is realistic).
  • Create an editorial calendar:  Plan it out three months in advance – know what you are going to write about, when it’s going to get written, and (very important) who is going to write it.  Don’t miss those dates!
  • Make time:  Blogging well takes time.  Make sure sufficient time is allocated to crafting the blog (including any research needed) and review.
  • Commitment:  You or your blogger probably has competing duties.  If your organization wants to blog effectively, you need to commit to the process and the time it takes to keep the blog up to date.  This typically requires buy-in from the blogger’s direct supervisor.  In a previous job, one of our bloggers posted a picture on his desk that said a kitten would die for each hour he was late on this blog.  Now, no kittens actually died, but do what you need to do to get some motivation to get it done.
  • Plan and mix:  Depending on the type of blog you have, you can probably mix “evergreen” posts with current-events posts.  Current-events posts are written about something happening now, whether it’s an organizational victory or a response to a news story.  The turnaround time for this type of blog is quick and typically goes up the day of the current event.  Evergreen posts are not specific to the current date.  These types of posts can be written in advance and don’t have the same time constraints.  Have a few evergreen posts in your pocket for a slow news week or a week when you get stuck working on other stuff – this will help you meet your schedule and take some of the pressure writing posts and getting approval in a short time period.


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