In-House Guest Blogging: How to Get Great Blog Content From Everyone in Your Office
by Kathryn Brill, Social Media and Content Marketing Specialist
Every blog manager has one perennial problem: how to continue generating high-quality content on a regular basis. This problem is intensified for small content teams. If you’re anything like me, you often find yourself staring at your computer screen, knowing the company blog needs an update but not sure what to write.
Many companies can afford to hire outside freelancers to keep their blog running smoothly, or have a huge network of potential guest bloggers to turn to. But for the rest of us, we have to look internally for solutions. Our companies are full of smart people with great insights into many aspects of our industries that could make great blog posts. But they’re busy, unsure where to start, and often unfamiliar with guest blogging—besides, blogs are the content team’s responsibility, right?
But generating content from across your organization is possible. For the past six months, we at Boomm have successfully implemented a content schedule where employees from all areas of our organization write blogs on a rotating basis. It’s enabled us to go from posting occasionally to posting regularly every other week. It’s busted the myth that you have to be “creative” or a trained writer to blog. And it’s expanded the scope of our blog to cover a wider range of marketing topics.
How did we make this happen? Here’s what we learned about successful in-house guest blogging from our experiment—and how you can implement this in your organization:
Create a schedule ahead of time. One major issue hindering content creation, especially at small companies, is the time pressure. Client projects take priority, and promoting your business is moved to the back burner. Trying to organize or delegate content creation in the midst of meeting other deadlines is a recipe for confusion and stress. Without a predetermined calendar or schedule, it’s difficult to make consistent time for blogging.
With this in mind, Boomm planned out our guest blogging in advance. We created a schedule that stretched us without being too ambitious—we moved from blogging roughly once a month to every other week. The schedule assigned each employee to a due date, so people could prepare for their post weeks ahead of time. Once the schedule was created, we no longer had to spend our energy on organizing the blog. Instead, we could focus on creating the content.
Brainstorm together. Many people believe the myth that only “creative” people are capable of coming up with great content ideas, or that creativity requires working alone. The reality is that anyone can have a good idea, and everyone is capable of working together to bring those ideas to life.
When we first came up with our blogging plan, we set aside time for everyone to toss around ideas and get creative juices flowing. In this brainstorming session, we didn’t put limits on our thinking; every idea was worth considering. Not only did it help us get started, it also made us realize how much great content we could produce just using what we were already thinking about. And doing it together reinforced that this was a team effort.
Be firm but supportive. If your job involves heavy amounts of writing, chances are you don’t realize how scary writing can be for people who don’t do it as often. The idea of sitting down and producing a blog post can elicit all kinds of reactions: self-doubt, stress, uncertainty, and even defeat. When you ask people to create content for you for the first time, you should be prepared for these reactions.
Our creative director, Randy Mitchell, likes to say, “If you can write an email, you can write a blog post.” Most people are better writers than they think they are—they just need some encouragement and direction. While it’s counterproductive to micromanage, you also shouldn’t throw people into the deep end and walk away. Find the balance between letting new writers stand on their own and supporting them. At Boomm, we keep to firm blogging deadlines and expect everyone to come up with their own ideas and work. However, we also help people work out how to organize their posts, provide guided brainstorming, and read many drafts to give direction and encouragement. This results in better work—and more confident writers.
Above all, let people write about what they’re interested in. Everyone in your organization has expertise, knowledge and interests to share. When you give them the freedom to write about these things, it makes their writing easier, increases enthusiasm for blogging, and expands the range of your blog. Don’t try to confine people’s writing to certain subjects—give them the freedom to roam.
When we first brainstormed at Boomm, some people had ideas for blogs based on common questions or misconceptions about their work. Other people wanted to write how-to guides for beginners to a certain area of marketing, or respond to current events from a marketer’s perspective. These ideas were very different from the ones I had brainstormed for my own writing—which meant the blog grew in scope and began to cover topics that we had never written about before. And because these blogs were written by people who cared about the topics, they were fun to write and compelling to read.
In-house guest blogging doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. While it takes some initial investment, the payoff is rewarding. By following these guidelines, your organization can tap into the energy and knowledge of your entire staff to create great blog content.