By Jeff Kline

Blog

How To Blog: A Guide For Nonprofits

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

If you’re serious about using content marketing for your nonprofit, you’ve got to start blogging.

There are many reasons NOT to blog—it takes a lot of time, it requires the skills of a professional writer, and it must be done on a regular basis. But when you weigh these cons against the incredible pros of blogging, there’s no contest.

The Benefits Of Blogging

  • Better SEOGoogle favors websites that are publishing useful content on a regular basis.
  • Awareness: People will find your blog posts in search and become aware of your organization.
  • Relevant website traffic: By optimizing your blog posts with the right keywords, you can attract people who are likely to be interested in joining or donating to your organization. Studies show that organizations with blogs generate 97% more leads than those without blogs.
  • Credibility and trust: If you continuously provide free, useful information, you’ll become a trusted resource among your target audience. So even if a reader isn’t currently ready to commit to an organization, as soon as he is ready, you’ll be at the top of his mind.

Blogging isn’t a quick fix or a one-time tactic. The only way to be effective is to make a commitment to writing high quality content and publishing on a continuous weekly basis.  

Blogging is an investment with long term results.


 

Getting Started With Blogging

What should I blog about?

There are a lot of blogs out there, creating a lot of noise. To get any attention at all, you have to write something that will cut through the clutter, rather than adding to it. You can accomplish this by focusing on a niche audience and providing them with ultra-relevant, ultra-useful content.

Here on the Accrisoft blog, we don’t just write about internet marketing. We write about internet marketing for nonprofits, because our niche target audience is marketing directors of nonprofit organizations.

Other examples: 

  • A chamber of commerce in Nashville might blog about doing business in Nashville in order to target local business owners.
  • An animal shelter in San Francisco might blog about preventing animal cruelty in order to target volunteers and donors who are passionate about animal rights.
  • A JCC in Chicago might blog about Jewish family living in order to attract Jewish moms.

Look to your audience personas to figure out what your niche target audience is most interested in.

Once you’ve determined the general focus of your blog, use an editorial calendar to plan out weekly blog posts. Click here to download an editorial calendar template, which helps you plan the topic, publish date, and author of each post.


 

The Anatomy Of An Awesome Blog Post

There are a few general guidelines for writing an awesome post:

  • The content should be your original words—no copying and pasting from Forbes.com.
  • Be educational or entertaining. Or both!
  • Write about something your target audience might be searching for online.

Now we’ll take a look at the different elements of an awesome blog post.

1) Compelling Title

Writing titles is an art of its own. Your title’s job is to compel people to click through to your blog post. 

Best practices:

  • Include keyword phrases that your target audience might be typing into search engines.
  • Include “How To” (example: How To Help The Homeless In St. Louis)
  • Include a number (example: 10 Ways To Volunteer This Summer)

Click here to learn more about writing blog titles.

2) Engaging First Paragraph

You’ve drawn them in with your great title—now make sure your intro paragraph is just as awesome. Try starting off with an anecdote or metaphor that will help illustrate your point. Another good tactic is empathy—showing that you understand their challenges. 

The key is to write something that will strongly resonate with the reader and compel them to continue reading.

3) Scannable Content

Write for short attention spans. Format your posts so they are easy for people to skim through and pull out the most important information quickly. Many people will quickly scan a post to see if it looks interesting, then scroll back to the beginning to read it all of the way through.

Best practices:

  • Present information as a list (example: 10 Steps To Writing An Awesome Blog Post)
  • Organize content into short paragraphs with subheaders
  • Use bullets and numbers
  • Apply bold styling to important points
  • Provide visual information—infographics, charts, etc.

4) Internal Links

Within each blog post, try to include at least one link to another page on your website. This will reduce your bounce rate and encourage visitors to dig deeper into your site. You can link to another blog post or a static page on your website—any page that would provide valuable supplemental information.

5) External Links

Another way to supplement the information in your blog post is by linking to another blog post, especially if you’re discussing a topic outside your expertise. There’s nothing wrong with pointing your readers toward additional sources—you still get brownie points for identifying and sharing the information!

It’s also important to give credit to any sources you use when writing your posts. If you quote an author, link to her bio. If you pull a statistic from another blog post, provide a link to that article.

6) High Quality Images

Images can make a blog post much more inviting to a reader. And blog posts are much more shareable on Facebook and Pinterest when there’s an image included.

But low quality images are an eyesore and can ruin even the most beautifully designed blog. Never use an image that looks blurry or pixelated. Only use high resolution photos and professionally designed graphics.

Flickr Creative Commons is a great source for photos as long as you provide the required attribution. When you find an image you want to use, click to read the rights reserved—you’ll probably be required to provide a link back to the image source.

7) No Internal Jargon 

Part of being relevant to your audience is speaking their language. How do they phrase things? It’s probably different than the way you phrase things within your organization.

Don’t make this company’s mistake.

8) Strong Conclusion

There are hundreds of ways to conclude a blog post. My simple suggestion is to remind the reader why the information they just consumed was important.  Summarize what they learned, and briefly state what their next step should be.

The conclusion will often be the perfect lead-in to your Call To Action. 

9) Call To Action

If you read our blog last week, you know about the decision-making process.

Blogging is a great first step to helping potential members/donors move through the decision-making process. Blogging moves them into the Awareness stage, and a Call To Action at the end of your blog post can move them into the Evaluation stage.

Think about what you could offer that would make them think more seriously about committing to your organization. That might be an FAQ page, testimonials from current members, or a webpage listing Membership Benefits.

10) Social Share Buttons

Make it easy for readers to share your blog posts on social media. Include social share buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and whatever other social networks are relevant.

11) Google Authorship

You’ve probably noticed, when searching in Google, that some articles and blog posts appear with a picture of the author next to them. It really draws attention to those search results.

google authorship

Those authors claimed Authorship by connecting their blog to their Google+ profile. Learn how to leverage Google Authorship for your blog!


 

Are you ready to commit to blogging?

Blogging is one of the most effective content marketing tactics for nonprofits. By providing your audience with useful content on a regular basis, you will improve your SEO, increase your web traffic, boost your credibility and generate trust among your readers.

Today’s post should serve as a helpful guide to getting started with blogging. Remember to choose an overall focus for your blog—something that will be relevant to your niche target audience. When you write your blog posts, be sure to keep all 11 blog elements in mind. Happy blogging!

Contact us to learn how Accrisoft can help you get started with blogging.

 

Share Your Nonprofit’s Blog With Us

Does your organization have a great blog? Or is there another nonprofit organization that has a blog you admire?

Share it with the group by posting the URL in the comments section below!

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