Blogging is a great marketing tool and should definitely be a part of your online nonprofit marketing strategy. Blogs are appealing because the type of content offered is informal and generally trendy and fresh. For nonprofits, blogging comes with several benefits: a nonprofit blog will drive traffic to the nonprofit website, offer a new venue for engaging potential donors, and allow a nonprofit to position itself as a player in its particular sector.
The author at work
- Brevity is the soul of discretion. Readers have short attention spans. A blog could be a few lines to preface an appealing image or video, or it could be an informal article. In generating an outside word limit, it's best not to go beyond 800 words. If it must be longer, make it into a two-part series and link the two parts to each other for the readers' convenience. Break up texts with subheadings, pull quotes, images, and videos. In general, you should break up the text with one of these devices every 3-4 paragraphs.
- A picture's worth a thousand words. It cannot be said too often for those marketing ANYTHING online: people are visual. Images are essential to the well-crafted blog. They keep the reader engaged and draw him to the next section of the text. Take your own photos or use royalty-free images. Some sources are free to use as long as you include a photo credit, for instance, the photo gallery at the White House website.
- It's the name of the game. Don't stint when it comes to creating a catchy title. No matter how much effort you put into the body of your blog, if it's got a boring title, no one will read it. Consider the difference between: How I taught my dog to beg and Begging will get you everywhere. The first is ho-hum, the second piques the interest. You can't help but want to read the rest. Car donation program Kars4Kids showed it was title savvy with this blog entry from March: Do our customer service reps rock? Or do they really really rock?! You just know you want to read that.
- Don't be listless. Lists are good because they tell readers that they don't have to read every word of your blog but can scan the contents for effective tips. The numbering or bullets also help to break up the text in much the same way as images, videos, or subheadings.
- Do your share. More than anything, you want people to share your content. Don't make it hard for them to do so. Add share buttons and situate them in a section of the page where they will be seen. You can put them in more than one place, for instance at the top and bottom of blog posts. Include lots of choices for sharing venues but definitely include the main players: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
- Keep an eye on things. From behind the scenes (back end of the blog), you can monitor traffic to your blog and from your blog to your nonprofit's website. You can check these stats according to the day, week, and month and often, you can see the referring website. Other things you can see: the keywords that brought people to the blog, and what type of content drove the most traffic. There are free tools you can sign up for to help you generate and interpret your blog traffic, such as Google Analytics. Use the data to help you plan future content that will be appealing to your target audience. The data will also tell you the ideal time to post new content.