Be an Active Participant on Your Website or Blog
You've gotta work your blog, for it to work!
When it comes to making sure your website or blog builds interest and passion amongst your target audience for whatever it is you do, (you know, the people you want cheering for you -- your customers, constituents, donors, etc.), you've got to get off the sidelines, roll up your sleeves, and get involved in telling the story, and keeping it fresh. Designing and launching a web presence can be a monumental task, (and, a great achievement), but that's just half the battle. Once your site or blog is up and running, it's not going to run itself.
A month or so ago, I wrote about formatting your content as a blog, including some tips to get started, as well as some pointers to avoid the dreaded blogger burnout. The first tip mentioned to avoid blogger burnout was to blog/write about what you love. Staying motivated is a whole lot easier when you're constantly thinking about, and dealing with the topic you blog about. If you love your topic, you'll find it easier to think up content ideas, engage with readers, and establish a warm and welcoming voice that encourages rapport and develops readership. Rest assured, if they're not reading about you and your organization, they're probably reading about someone else.
Find your voice, and let people ˜hear" what you have to say. You know your story better than anyone else, so really capitalize on that strength. Make it a point to draw people into your site or blog by sharing and posting articles that highlight and support your mission. Tell your readers about your experiences at a recent industry event, talk about a partner organization's initiative that ties into one of your own, give accolades to a colleague for his or her outstanding achievement in your area of interest. To that end, here's an idea -- consider authoring your own series of articles around a common theme, making it a weekly feature on your website or blog.
For example, post a spotlight piece each week that introduces a person in your industry/area of interest that is a fervent champion for your cause, or an unsung hero forgotten by the news, but, in spite of, is still forging ahead, (with all the bad news these days, we need more ways to good? stories, don't we?). The people you profile in the spotlight series may be within your own organization, (staff, volunteers), respected industry peers, folks who do much but ask for nothing in return, etc. Or, consider including a friendly, personal anecdote remembering a past interaction with a well-regarded champion or hero -- maybe recalling how he or she helped you get your start. Remember, it's the heart-warming human? stories and anecdotes that grab people's attention, and make them take notice. These are the types of stories that inspire others to join a cause (perhaps, yours), and get involved.
And, on that note, why not harvest the wealth of personal stories and industry news that resides within your target audience -- invite them to share their tales, accomplishments and expertise. Their contriubtions are the perfect way to enhance and add emphasis and credence to the material you post, creating another compelling reason for visitors to your site or blog to return again, and again. Depending upon the response to your invitations to submit material, a section or category dedicated to your readers' stories and contributions may be warranted. Just a thought.
With all the great and eagerly anticipated content you'll be generating, your readers are certainly going to make their voices heard, by posting comments in response to the stories and articles appearing on your site. Don't miss this golden oportunity to reach back out -- respond regularly to their comments! Let your readers know you are involved, "listening", and are interested in what they have to say. Answer questions, provide clarification, let them know what action you are going to take, which suggestions you are looking more closely at, and thank them for their feedback. While your at it, why not cull reader comments for possible future article ideas? Make your site an interactive and meaningful one, and make your visitors part of the conversation.
The bottom line is, resist the urge to make your website or blog a strictly clip and post? service, where you simply rehash news and material from other sources. (And, let's not forget about potential copyright infringement issues, right?) If your visitors can get it from another source, why do they need to visit your site? Roll up your sleeves, and make your content a personal reflection of you, your organization and your mission.
(Image courtesy of Blogopreneur.com)