“It’s not that we don’t want a blog, we absolutely want one, but how and where do we begin?”
Our client was intrigued by the conversation. They’d obviously been toying with the idea for some time now and clearly knew it was the direction they needed to go, but they didn’t know how to get there. The reason why? Oh, you know – limited bandwidth, zero experience, and no dedicated copywriter. But, hey, at least they were open to suggestions.
Like many IT solution providers, the idea of a blog remains just that – an elusive idea. But what most don’t realize is that blogging, in our industry especially, is easier than you think. Because almost all of the tools and resources needed are at your disposal – literally!
Why is blogging important?
In this day and age, digital marketing is essential to keeping your business relevant, especially when it comes to the IT industry. Technology changes often and frequently – for this reason, every IT marketing strategy should, at one point or another, include a blog and other custom content. There are many reasons to blog, of course, so spending the time to consider your own objectives is recommended. But the most common reasons are to establish your brand as an industry authority and/or thought leader, to educate readers, and to inspire them, their research and decision-making process – all while aiming to be the “go-to” IT resource.
So, why don’t all IT Solution providers just bite the bullet and start blogging? Because honestly, what most IT Solutions providers don’t do is leverage and maximize their own internal resources for their benefit. In fact, they’re so busy giving one-hundred and ten percent to their clients that they often put their own priorities aside. So, whether or not you think your organization is ready for a blog, now is the time and this is how.
Tap into your internal resources
Between sales, engineers, technical architects, and business leaders, there inherently resides an endless supply of untapped knowledge and insight. These internal subject matter experts are dealing directly with customers and prospects, assessing and addressing challenges, and are in touch with the latest trends, protocols, and best practices. These experiences make it easy to produce relevant content that your audience will love.
They know what information readers need in order to make smart business decisions. Tapping into and leveraging that type of insight to yield compelling and relatable stories that drive not only engagement but actionable results is the key to developing a killer IT blog.
“Okay – I like it, but how the hell are we supposed to get them involved?”
Money moves, my friend. Money moves.
Getting your experts involved
Blogging is not for everyone, I get it. You graduated from all of this already – you hated Creative Writing and English Composition. Oof! Forget about it! You had one foot out the door since day one; unless of course, you were an oddball like me who actually enjoyed the sweet torture of writing essays.
Well, the bright side, my friends, is that blogging is only as challenging as you make it, and it gets easier with each one you write. And unlike those Creative Writing classes, a company should incentivize its writers. So, if you have the power to get your employees blogging, don’t willy-nilly this piece. Put thought behind and prioritize an incentive program you yourself would want to partake in – especially when ramping up to get your blog started.
As a best practice, gather incentive insight directly from your writers.
For example, after much internal consideration, our client believed a $100 bonus in the first quarter for every blog published was a fair incentive. If cash incentives aren’t an option for your organization, find out what your employee’s value – do they value time off? Flex-days? Paid vacations? Consider establishing a points system where writers can cash in on one every quarter.
Supporting your writers with best practices
Okay – so, you’ve identified your writers and established an incentive program. Now, prepare and enable your writers with these 7 best practices:
1. Make it easy for them
Designate one person responsible for managing the blogging effort. This person will be responsible for assisting all writers by providing guidance, proofreading, editing, writing assistance (if needed), and publishing the blog posts.
(Note: This person may end up being an internal marketer or third party resource)
2. Create an approval process
All topics and content should first go through an approval process. Posts should be vetted in advance, ideally after identifying the key takeaways and reader benefits. Before publishing, all blog copy and supporting content must be edited and finalized.
3. Kickoff calls and blog training
In order to start things off right, you’ll want to host a kickoff call and offer a training session to review the program and onboard the team. Everyone needs to be on the same page and know that this is a priority. You’ll also want to use this time to hear and address concerns.
(Note: The most common concern – writing isn’t everyone’s strong suit, and those more seasoned professionals may find this off-putting, so allow for flexibility in your blogging process.)
4. Fuel Inspiration
Topic lists – these help to invoke inspiration. Plus, if there are any specific topics you want your blog to have you can prioritize accordingly. But don’t necessarily make it mandatory for writers to choose from this list, allow them to be creative and write on approved topics they’re passionate about.
Meetings – weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly – offer dedicated time for writers to brainstorm, bounce ideas off one another, and get a chance to see what their peers are writing about. These meetings are guaranteed to fuel inspiration and mindshare. Our clients found this time helpful in uncovering topics related to common customer questions or complaints, technical guides, case studies or use cases, and best practices.
Open door policy – encourage an open-door policy or offer 1:1 time for your writers to share their topic ideas, gather feedback or input, or perhaps even interview you on their blog topic. Help them produce!
5. Create a virtual content library
All templates, published content, and assets should be accessible via a virtual shared folder. Keep it organized and notify the team when it’s been updated. Google Drive or Dropbox are great for this!
6. Create writing templates
There are many different writing styles and formats. Create and share templates your writers can use for inspiration.
7. Designate writing time
Your writers will need to block off 30-60 minutes each week to work on their blog; this does not include research time if needed. We get that your employees have other demands on their time. This is why incentives need to be worth it, because some writers may find themselves coming in early, working late, or even on weekends. If you host an internal weekly meeting with your entire team, consider incorporating blog time if possible.
Every organization is different, so knowing what’s right for you and your employees, then formalizing your blogging process should be your ultimate objective. The first few months will be a little rough, but once the waters have settled, it’ll be easy breezy blogging.
So, ready to get started?
Indeed, blogging may seem overwhelming at times, but honestly, the hardest part is just getting started. Don’t dedicate too much time reading contradicting or unrelatable Guides to Blogging. There’s no one-size-fits-all and it’s easy to get bogged down and lose momentum, just prioritize these points to maximize your team’s blogging efforts. The rest will fall into place.
Need more help getting your IT blog started? A Fluent Vision can help you roll out a similar blogging and incentive program, as well as help you strategize and execute upon all of your marketing efforts. Find out more about our IT marketing services.