It isn’t news that blogging is popular in the nonprofit arena — and for good reason! Blogging is a direct, effective way to market your organization’s expertise and the important work you do, as well as build relationships with your audience while inspiring them to support your cause. While blogging may come easy for some, it can be intimidating for others.
Have no fear! There is no one right way to write a blog post, but we can offer several tips that will help you write a stronger post that engages your audience.
Tip 1: Before you write, determine the goal and target audience for your post.
As with any piece of writing, first think through your goal before you begin drafting: Do you want readers to take part in a new initiative? Or do you want to share an update on your organization’s progress toward your annual targets? Thinking through the post’s goal while you draft an outline will control for confusing content structure and language when you begin writing and will help determine if the piece should be one post or part of a series.
Additionally, it is beneficial to pinpoint your target audience from the get-go — for example, are you trying to reach parents or health care practitioners with a post about flu prevention? This step will ensure you create strategic content, especially if you’re focusing on a new target audience that has different needs and experiences than audiences you’ve targeted in the past.
Tip 2: Don’t get hung up on word count, but try to write only as much as necessary to get your point across.
Sometimes you have a lot to say — you’re passionate and you want the reader to be well-informed! Your passion is important, but you don’t want your audience to get bored or think, “What was the point of this post?” While recommendations regarding optimum blog length are continually revisited, one constant is that long posts will only be successful if the content is useful to the audience (i.e., added detail must equal added value). Following a 2016 study on optimal post length, Medium advised authors to write as much as necessary to bring their point across (think back to your goal!), adding, “If you put in the effort, so will your audience.” If you’re new to blogging, try sticking to between 300 and 600 words for your first few posts — and always ask your colleagues for feedback on ways to shorten if necessary.
Tip 3: Research is your friend!
When appropriate, include key data to illustrate your perspective. Your audience may believe your organization is doing good work, but the more you can use data to show the impact you’re having on a particular issue, the easier it will be for the reader to decide whether to support you — for example, by sharing your posts with their networks or donating to your cause. If you’re feeling creative, add an infographic to the post to make the data more visual!
Tip 4: Choose a header image that is relevant to the topic and visually appealing.
This may seem obvious, but not all images are created equal. When choosing an appropriate header image, keep in mind the goal of the post, the post’s tone (e.g., is it serious, lighthearted, etc.), and your organization’s brand (e.g., whether you have brand guidelines with imagery specifications). Sometimes a high-quality photograph will work well for one audience, but a curated header image would make a specific post appealing to others. You don’t have to make this decision alone! Work with your marketing or design colleagues to determine the best header image for each post. If you’re on a budget, try using a platform like Canva for an easy way to create interesting header images.
Tip 5: Have a colleague proofread. I repeat: Have a colleague proofread.
You’ve put a lot of time and effort into your post — the last thing you’d want to see is a spelling or grammatical error after your post has been published! Rely on a coworker with editorial knowledge and experience to help you avoid missteps.
Tip 6: And finally … don’t be too hard on yourself!
Practice is the only way to get more confident in blogging, so you’re sure to improve with every post you write. You’ve got this!