Answer These 3 Questions Before You Write Your New Blog's First Post

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

Before diving in on regular blogging to follow up on my first post on first principles. I took a step back and thought I'd share a few questions I asked myself as I started this blog in order to help others planning new blogs for their organizations. 

1. What are the goals of your new blog?

If you're blogging for an organization, you should have a theory for how this new blog will help you achieve your mission or your business goals. For example, If you're starting a blog for a theater company, the primary goal of your blog is probably to sell tickets. Secondary goals might be to build stronger ties with the local arts community, or to show funders all the things that a donation (give now!) supports.      

In my case, I have a mix of business and creative goals: 

  • To share ideas that will help social impact projects, nonprofits and culture-makers work more efficiently for the long term, especially in the area of online strategy 
  • To elevate ideas, people, art, film, books, etc. that I'm excited about and think other people should be excited about 
  • To build connections between ideas, organizations and artists that I'm uniquely positioned to connect
  • To raise awareness of my work and bring in new clients
  • To help staffers at social impact projects, other freelancers and artists sustainably balance career with creative exploration.

2. How will a new blog fit in with your existing outreach channels? 

You probably are already telling the world about your work through other web content, social media, an email campaign, press releases, maybe even billboards and direct mail. It's important to understand how your new blog differs from these channels. 

In my case, I use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterist and LinkedIn regularly for sharing ideas that I think others will find valuable. Some of what I post to those networks might fit in with the goals for this blog, but most of it is particular to the unique dynamics of each social network. For example, I will probably not blog about the United States Congress here much, but I frequently Tweet frustration with their inability to pass popular, common-sense legislation since many of my followers on Twitter are highly engaged politically.

Likewise, the most prominent pages of a website should quickly describe what's unique and urgent about you and your work and how to join, donate, buy, or learn more. If this kind of material is buried deep in an old blog post, your visitors will probably not find it. For example, I might like to write a blog post about questions raised by the amazing documentary I saw last weekend (Finding Vivian Maier), but it probably isn't the most important thing I want potential clients to engage with (unless I want them spending the rest of the day on Netflix). 

3. What are some specific examples of blog posts that would further these goals? How urgent and how easy or hard is each example? 

Planning ahead and prioritizing how you spend your time is a critical skill to learn as you launch a new blog for your nonprofit or social impact project. Before writing your first post, try spending 25 minutes thinking up as many ideas for blog posts as you can. Keep the goals of your blog (above) in front of you as you do so. Once you have this list, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What goal does each idea serve?
  • Which posts are easy to write and which will require more time and research?
  • Which ideas are urgent or time sensitive?
  • Which could be written during a slow week or put off for six months?
  • Which are most likely to have a direct impact on your priority goals?  

In my case, here are three ideas for posts I might write soon followed by answers to some of those questions in italics.

  • A series of posts describing performances, lectures, and films that I've seen recently, highlighting key ideas in a more useful way than the cryptic Instagram on the right. Elevates ideas, people, organizations; builds connections; not urgent; time varies between 15 minutes to 3 hours each.  
  • A love letter to San Antonio, TX chronicling my recent trip there during which I discovered its rich arts and music community. Elevates ideas, people, organizations; builds connections; somewhat urgent since memory tends to fade; 2 hours required?
  • A debrief of a friend's first effort to use crowdfunding to finance a theatrical production. Higher priority; describes a fundraising tactic I can help future clients with; somewhat time sensitive (memories fade and the project was recently completed); time required = 3 hours? 
  • Quick shout-outs to social impact leaders, nonprofit programs, artists and speakers who I've met and learned from over the past few months and years. Builds community and connections; not urgent unless there is a current event being promoted (which might be better suited to Twitter anyway); time required = 5-15 minutes each.
  • A post about how to go on vacation if you're the only person responsible for your project or nonprofit's social media presence. Advocates for sustainable career/personal balance; builds efficiency and skills; time sensitive (Summer vacations are approaching fast here in the northern hemisphere); time required: brief tips could be written in 25 minutes, in-depth article could take 3 hours or more.      

With a list like this written it becomes much easier to prioritize your time and feel confident that you're working on more impactful blog posts. 

There are of course lots of other questions to ask that go beyond planning what to write: How will you attract readers to your blog posts? How will you measure the impact of your blog on your broader goals? These are no less important when planning a new blog, and certainly worth going in to in a future post. 

What questions do you ask yourself before launching a new blog? Let me know on Twitter at @erikmoe or contact me directly.

Erik Moe

Truxton Circle, Washington, DC, United States

Digital strategy expert working to strengthen the online work of social impact teams, culture-makers, and nonprofits.