Editor’s Note: In 2023 we’re going to introduce several guest bloggers. This blog post was written by copywriter and marketing expert Monika Jansen. If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, let us know.
I’ve been blogging regularly for nearly 10 years, and but even for a professional copywriter, it can be hard to pinpoint what actually makes a blog successful, especially for a nonprofit, which has different needs and goals than a business.
I’m not talking about the technical side of a blog post – choosing the right keyword, formatting the blog for readability, adding helpful the links, picking a striking image. Those are important, but they’re not the reason anyone reads a blog – mine, yours, or anyone else’s.
The magic lies in the blog post itself – the information that’s shared and the way it’s presented.
I regularly talk to potential clients who aren’t happy with the blog posts someone else is writing for them, whether it’s a marketing agency, copywriter, or someone in-house. I’ll sit down and read a few, and quickly discover the same thing:
The blog posts are generic fluff pieces.
Anyone could have written them. They lack depth, personality and a distinct point of view.
Yes, it takes much more time and effort to produce a thoughtful, unique blog post. But as an association or nonprofit, you are competing against so many other brands and stories. You need to make sure yours rises above the rest and creates connections with your audience. Those connections are key to meeting your business goals.
So what makes blogging successful?
After thinking about how I approach blogging for my own agency and our clients, I realized success is found in these five elements:
Point of view
Call it an angle, call it a point of view – the blog posts that do well plant a stake in the ground and say, “This is what I know based on experience.”
I used to write mostly straightforward how-to blog posts, but now I only occasionally write them. I still weave in tips and strategies to every blog post (more on this below). People want to learn, and I’m more than happy to teach.
Almost anyone can write a how-to blog post. It takes a lot of experience and hard-won knowledge to write a truly unique blog post.
Taking a stand is much more interesting, anyway.
In the past, I’ve written about how Facebook hates small businesses based on a long, infuriating story from my sister-in-law and I’ve begged and pleaded with people to stop abusing LinkedIn.
I’ve also written about things in marketing I’m curious about and what I learned when I did some research. Those turned into blog posts on what content people will pay for and if you should write long blog posts.
Are all my blog posts home runs? Nope, but they’re never boring.
Generously sharing knowledge pays off because it builds trust. We work with and buy from people we know and like, and trust is at the foundation of that relationship. Should you give away your secret sauce? Of course not. Keep proprietary information behind the curtain.
I always share what I know, and people can replicate what I teach them if they wish. Am I afraid they’ll get better than me? Of course not. No one can be me. No one else has my exact writing skills, hard-won experience, network of great people, string of failures and triumphs, list of clients or sense of humor.
The same is absolutely true for you and your organization. No one else is like you, and that’s a priceless advantage.
Because I am known for saying it like it is and making people laugh at the same time, it’s fair to say that I don’t hold back when I’m writing.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to be you when you write. If you and I chat on the phone after you read one or two of my blog posts, you’ll instantly recognize me. And you might feel like you already know me.
For organizations that rely on active members, well-attended events, and successful fundraising campaigns, it’s critical that you allow people to get to know you. Don’t underestimate the power of creating connections.
Humans have been learning through stories for millennia, so I always try to include stories in my blog posts. If they’re not stories based on my experience, they’re my clients’ stories. I follow this formula with the clients I blog for too, and it makes all the difference.
Stories – about members, clients you’ve served, your colleagues and partners – beautifully demonstrate what you do. They elicit emotions that a set of facts or statistics cannot. Start including more stories in your blog and see what kind of response you get.
Fluffy blog posts are basically worthless because readers are looking for deep dives into a topic.
When I did research on what makes longer blog posts so successful, I learned that the comprehensive amount of information they contain provide more bang for the buck in a reader’s eyes. In other words, they don’t have to read a few blog posts on one topic. They get all the information they need in one go.
Also, long blog posts prove you’re an expert. Try finding someone who doesn’t know anything about what you do and ask them to write a coherent and valuable 2,000-word blog post on a topic of your choice. Not gonna happen. Only you can provide that kind of value to your audience.
Once you are providing all that amazing value, people reward you for it. Long blog posts get shared more frequently on social media.
(How long is a long blog post? At least 1,500 words, though mine are generally in the 1,000 word range. )
Making blogging successful
Write down those five elements I listed above on a sticky note and put it in your office where you’ll see it. Every time you write a blog post, make sure you’re hitting all five. I can’t guarantee your blog will turn into an overnight success, but it will definitely propel you forward.
About the Author
Monika is a copywriter and content strategist who helps small business owners and marketing departments find their voice and share valuable information. She’s a huge believer in writing content that is entirely client-centric: It directly speaks to your audience’s needs and challenges, focuses on the benefits they’ll get, and is – above all else – helpful. When she’s not pounding away on her Mac, she’s either snowboarding, hiking, or hanging out with her family and friends.