One of the reasons companies abandon their business blogs is that the people tasked with producing blog posts run out of time, ideas, enthusiasm or all three. These are often over-burdened marketing directors, salespeople, business owners or executives with a full plate of existing tasks. They want and need blogging to be a team effort, but how do you turn other people into bloggers?
Let’s look first at why people visit your business blog. Generally, they want to see:
- The voice and personality behind your business
- Tips they can use to improve their business and life
- Whether your company’s people are experts at what they do
- How active your business is, and what’s going on there
The best people to share this information are the ones working at your company, whether they work directly with customers or behind the scenes. Unfortunately, many of those people don’t consider themselves writers and so they probably won’t come forward when you ask for blog contributors.
Here are five steps for pulling blog post ideas out of the non-writers in your company:
- Create a framework. Start with what would be most interesting and helpful to the ideal customer who will be reading the blog, then incorporate your blogging plan, your company’s branding, and a topic/category that’s coming up in your editorial calendar. Hint: Here are eight blog topic ideas for businesses.
- Outline the article. With your framework in place, draft an outline of the article – the main point you might like to make (be open for the person to introduce new ideas – that’s why you’re approaching them), some possible sub-points, and some related posts you might refer to (from your own blog or elsewhere).
- Write 5-10 questions that will fill in your outline. You may not use them all, but this way if one falls flat you can stay moving. Introverts, especially, will appreciate if you send the questions before the meeting so they can start gathering their thoughts. Include some general questions that will fire up the person’s passion for their topic.
- Interview the person and ask your questions. As they wind down with each response, always ask, “What else?” before moving on to the next question. Don’t be concerned if the conversation strays from your outline, just get down all the details. One interview may lead to multiple blog posts or other pieces of content. Use a digital recorder if you’re worried about writing or typing fast enough.
- Share a draft. Once you’ve drafted the blog post, ask the person to review it. They may want to clarify something or tweak the language so it’s more in their voice. They may also have new ideas to add after reflecting on the conversation later (this is especially common for introverts).
You can present the person’s contribution in several different ways:
- Quote the person as an expert source, as you see in newspaper and magazine articles
- Format the article as a list of questions and answers
- Write the whole article in the voice of the guest blogger
Keep things as authentic as possible by presenting the person’s words verbatim where possible (here’s where recording the conversation will really help). Of course you’ll also want to maintain the language and professionalism you’ve established in your company-wide communications policy and blogging plan.