Spreading blog responsibilities throughout the company has many benefits, including covering more diverse topics, showcasing several perspectives and expertise and, of course, developing more content. In my last blog, I discussed steps for successful team blogging and tips for encouraging employees. But along with the good comes several challenges to team blogging.
Over my career, I have lead three editorial teams, and there are a few challenges that seem to occur no matter what city I’m in, what kind of publication I am working for or who is on my team. Here, we take a look at some of the most common hurdles to team blogging and a few suggestions for overcoming them.
This is understandable; a blank page can be downright intimidating. Even professional writers experience this difficulty. Plus, many people worry about sounding “smart,”—you know, writing like they could be on par with company execs or thought leaders in the industry—which often deflates efforts before they're underway.
When this happens, encourage colleagues to write about what they know; everyone has a specialty, whether it is design, PPC or social media. Sit down with them before they start writing, and offer to help them strategize how they can tie the topic into the overall goals of the blog. For example, an employee may have a lot of PPC experience. We don’t often blog about PPC, but we can certainly craft a blog comparing the ROI of PPC to that of Facebook ads, which is completely relevant to our audience.
When you write about something you know, you automatically sound smarter. And the truth is, we are all looking for real, accessible content anyway, not content that sounds “smart.” Other tips include creating an “Idea Bank” of preapproved topics anyone can pull from or plugging in topics you want covered on specific days to your editorial calendar and allowing writers to claim those slots.
It’s a common feeling: OK, I have written 500 words, now I want this off my plate. Having the blog manager edit each post does save time and reduce runaround, but it produces a lost opportunity for educating contributors and coaching them to be better writers over time. On the other hand, improving abilities one-on-one may mean better quality content over time but increased turnaround time. However, it can be utterly frustrating or even overwhelming for many when they put effort into something difficult for them (i.e. blogging) and someone comes back with edits insisting they work on it some more. When you, as an editor, spend literally no time going over edits or changes you’ve made your team's blogs, they have no chance to grow as writers.
Insist on 10 minutes, whether it is before the work day begins or the handful of minutes usually spent getting a cup of coffee after lunch, everyone can find 10 minutes to spare. Even if it is after the blog has been published, try to find a few minutes to sit down with each writer to discuss some areas for improvement. Do not come off as judgmental or demanding; instead, try to be helpful and informative. Usually, bloggers simply need a little help tweaking the point of view or outline of the post.
Make it clear that 10 minutes set aside for early blog post edits may save everyone time later on, as writers become more comfortable with writing and need less edits on future posts.
Receiving guest blog posts gives you the chance to display different perspectives and voices on your blog, as well as establish the opportunity to work with industry thought leaders. But this is only beneficial if their posts are well written and relevant to your message. When you receive blatantly self-promotional or poorly communicated articles, it can act like quick sand swallowing your work hours.
Don’t waste your time trying to edit unworkable. Never lower your content standards for outside writers. If you do choose to accept guest blogs, create a landing page on your website that explains your standards and guidelines and clearly states that not all posts are accepted. This will simplify your process and save you time explaining why posts were or were not published.
The good of team blogging can certainly outweigh the bad with enough preparation and buy-in. What have been some of your top challenges for guest blogging? Let us know in the comment section below.