Turn any of your employees into a writer
If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that we recommend frequent blogging as one of the best ways to help boost your search rankings, engage with your customers, and build an audience. But if you’re like most small business owners, you simply don’t have the time to maintain a blog on your own, on top of all your other responsibilities.
Running a blog can be very difficult. Between brainstorming ideas, writing, proofreading, promoting, and responding to comments, it can eat up hours of the week that a lot of people can’t afford to give up. Despite their best efforts, many people simply can’t find the time to maintain their blog.
The solution some small business owners have for this problem is to hire an employee specifically to write their blog and run their social media accounts. This is a great solution if you have the budget for it! However, many small businesses don’t have the resources to hire someone to blog full time – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make writers out of the employees you already have!
Nobody knows more about your business than your existing employees, and they all have valuable perspectives that can help you create great content for your company. Some of them may love the opportunity to write for your company, but others might take some convincing. Here’s how to create a team of enthusiastic bloggers out of your existing team.
First, ask for help
Have a meeting or send out an email and let your staff know you’ve decided to open up the blog to anyone who has something to contribute.
You never know, you may have a bunch of aspiring writers working for you, and you could have several people jump at the chance to write a blog. If not, you can do a couple things to encourage participation.
- Ask individual people to write about their areas of expertise. Writing can seem less intimidating if it’s not an open-ended assignment. If you tell your customer service manager that you wanted a blog post about the questions your customers ask most frequently, and you realized they would be the most qualified to write it, they will probably be flattered. Give your employees the opportunity to write about the aspects of your business that they know best.
- Incentivize contributing. A small bonus of some kind for employees who are willing to write a good blog post can be all someone needs to get them to take the plunge. Most people have a lot to say about their jobs, and it’s a win-win if they get a chance to talk about what they know AND get something tangible out of it.
- Remind them how good it looks on a résumé. Writing experience is one of the top things recruiters are looking for these days, no matter what industry you’re talking about. Being able to say that they wrote professionally for their company blog can be a big step up for them in the future.
Be flexible and helpful
Most people running business blogs are not professional writers. Even if you’ve been blogging for a few years and have picked up a few tricks along the way, you need to be somewhat patient when you’re asking your employees to step out of their comfort zones and contribute to the blog. People who aren’t used to writing for an audience will make mistakes, and part of your responsibility will be to help them learn the ropes.
This is especially true if you’re assigning topics to new writers. Make sure that they have all the resources they need and be flexible with the timeline. If your first-time writer is panicking because the deadline is coming up, you’ll probably never be able to get them to write another post for you again.
Resources: You want to make sure your fledgling writers have the information they need to succeed. If you’ve asked someone to write a post about your customers' buying habits, make sure they have the data they need to write that effectively. Also be sure to let your writers know about any preferences you have for linking or calls to action, because that will save time during the editing process later.
Feedback: Chances are that your new writers aren’t going to write a perfect blog post their first time through. It’s important to be encouraging with new writers, so when you’re reading their first draft, focus on what they did right, and then suggest things to add to flesh the post out. Also, when it comes to editing, don’t rewrite or rearrange too much of what they’ve done. It can be demoralizing for them if the finished product doesn’t look anything like what they wrote. This process is more about giving people the confidence to learn to blog well than about getting a perfect blog post on their first attempt.
Build their confidence, then let them go
Blogging is not going to be for everyone. You will probably have employees who just want to put their heads down, do their jobs, and get on with their lives without devoting any of their work day to writing. However, some will love it. As you know if you’ve been running your company’s blog up until now, it’s a nice feeling to be able to put your work online for people to see.
Building a blog for your small business is a job for a team. The more people in your company who are contributing, the more content you can produce, but also (more importantly) the more it will reflect your company’s values and experiences. Once your new writers have a couple posts under their belts, chances are they’ll be coming up with new topics to write about on their own, and your company will be all the better for it.
Have you struggled to create a thriving blog for your small business? Do you have any tips for encouraging employees to contribute? Let us know in the comments, or drop us a line on Twitter.