I deal with organizations every day who are trying to use blogs to promote their businesses. Most of these are small business owners ($1MM-$10MM) and non-profits.
At first the idea is novel and exciting. However, as soon as the blog goes live though they’re freaked out. They realize they have no idea how to consistently produce content (yes, even in 2011 people still aren’t sure how to run a blog or update their site with content weekly).
As a result the exciting corporate blog project dies a slow death. Team members from the original launch project are afraid to bring up for fear they’ll have to take on the new blackhole, time-suck.
I’m surprised every time how the littlest coaching makes these insurmountable problems fade away. Most of the hurdles aren’t about lack of plan or training. It’s about shifting the mindset of the people who are slated with producing the content. Fact is, I’ve even been able to train high school interns, with zero writing experience how to effectively blog. All because of a shift in mindset.
The reason corporate blog projects die shouldn’t tied to the lack of content. It shouldn’t ever happen. …Maybe it’s dies because of a motivation or a top-down commitment problem. But content should never be the issue.
Everyone reads blogs, so they know what it should look like. Everyone learns from blogs, so they know it’s a valid platform for experts. Despite having a great deal of experience as a “blog consumer”, they still get stuck. Turns out without the right mindset, blogging looks easier than it really is.
Where Do Blog Projects Get Stuck Before They Start?
All the organizations I’ve dealt with as a consultant have had the same singular problem when it comes to getting a benefit from the web: they don’t know where content comes from. They curl up on the floor in fetal position and wait for the wave of anxiety to pass. It’s practically like watching a college freshmen fret over their mid-term paper due 8am the next morning.
It comes down to the fact organizations don’t view their own expertise and experiences as an opportunity to consistently produce content, and they don’t know how to translate these into consumable blog content.
Instead of being overwhelmed by all the moving parts of blog, you should just start writing. Forget the mechanics. Start writing about what you see in your industry, what you found in your research, or your view on what you found out along your journey to learn.
Not knowing how to generate new content kills the blog project with in a few months. It’s usually what keeps me from getting final payment on freelance gigs too (“Well, we’re still struggling to create content so the project isn’t done”).
How the Real Hurdle is Simply About Getting Over the Feeling of Being Overwhelmed.
Typically organizations experience the same initial emotions when the project is waiting on their content. They realize they are completely overwhelmed.
Good news is, it’s not a real problem, just a perceived one. Even if you don’t have the in-house resources, it’s still not a real problem with the right plan.
Most organizations are kind of naive when it comes to creating content for the web. They don’t realize what’s involved. Usually a project comes to a halt at this point. It’s as if a fear-of-blogging syndrome kicks in.
Why Does the Fear of Blogging Even Exist?
Fear of blogging exists because they think about making each post perfect. Organizations also get concerned they won’t be able to keep pace with producing more content after the initial burst. They aren’t really sure how to strategize about blogging. They don’t see where it fits in their marketing plan. Certainly at a mid-size to large-business (Fortune 500+) level this is less common. But for mom-and-pop small businesses this fear is commonplace.
3 Steps to Remove Fear of Blogging
It doesn’t have to be this way though. Feeling stuck isn’t really your fault. You can remove the fear by addressing just three things:
- Start looking at blogging as producing individual frames of content to create a body of work over time.
- Accept that you have a depth of expertise that can be shared
- Start to visualize how thin slices of your expertise can be transformed into effective blog content
Successful Blogging Is As Simple As Shifting You Mindset.
Most organizations think they need to create a small set of comprehensive articles and post those as blogs. In actuality that’s not true.
You’ll wind up spending all your time creating these perfect documents that no one will care about. Plus, it’s not enough to feed the internet monster one big answer to one big question. Like a growing puppy it’s gotta be fed every day–if not at an increasing rate.
Most small organizations don’t consider the fuel that keeps the internet going: questions and answers. When you shift your mindset to posing and answering questions suddenly it’s easy to produce content…and lots of it.
A new visitor to your site just wants an answer to their one question. And, they don’t want more than that unless they ask for it. Linking a series of questions together until it becomes a comprehensive answer is the better way to do it.
Essentially you’re designing experiences (click paths) instead of designing documents.
Knowing this rule of thumb creates a lot of freedom. Especially for people not used to having to product content on a daily basis.
Now, instead of all this pressure to create blog content that’s definitively expert-level, you the smallest questions and answers can become content in and of themselves.
Instead of getting bogged down by all the content that needs to be produced, just start with the questions you get asked all the time. Start with talking about an interesting experience you had. Start by just looking at your daily experiences as something people would want to know.
Blog content isn’t valuable just from talking about your own experience. That’s not what your visitors want. They want to first know answers to their questions, from people who’ve been there, or do it every day. Second they want to know you personally, or as a member of your organization. Those two things are not mutually-exclusive. They work together. They create a loyal following. And it’s the kind of mindset that makes it easier to create content
Photo credit: Flickr from kpwerker
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