start a blogWhen we started this blog back in November of 2011 with a goal of publishing at least one post daily, there were some raised eyebrows at our team meetings. Daily, it seemed, was a pretty ambitious goal — especially since at the time, we weren’t half as big a company as we are now.

We haven’t missed it yet.

And of course, quality trumps quantity every time, but there’s a lot to be said for regularity, and momentum, and respect for deadlines (would YOU want to be the first to miss one?). We’ve published some fluffy ones (I’m the culprit for 95% of those). We’ve patted ourselves on the back a few times (I’m the culprit for 96% of those).

But mostly we’ve put out great, useful content, from 10,000-foot marketing views to the AdWords trenches to a #ppcchat-worthy riposte on Quality Score. We’ve had awesome guest posters (here’s to the guys at CPC Search) and company stalwarts (Todd Mintz is my blogging hero) that helped get this thing off the ground and kept it in the air until backups arrived.

I started out knowing nothing about blogs. I’ve made tons of mistakes and had to scramble to fix things I didn’t know were wrong. A year and a half later, I still make tons of mistakes, but I’ve learned some pretty important stuff as well. And people have noticed that our folks know what they’re talking about; I was lucky enough to speak on the “Blow-Me-Away Blogging” panel at SMX West in March.

So, without further throat-clearing, 7 essentials for establishing a great company blog:

1. Swallow your pride and ask (and ask and ask). Ask your colleagues to write. Ask your bosses to write. Ask your bosses’ colleagues to write. Ask the newest hire a month into his/her role. Keep asking, keep reminding, and once you get a commitment, get it on the calendar. (Google Calendar works wonders because folks have to “accept,” which is an extra layer of commitment.) 

2. Ask people to write what they know. We have brilliant account managers whose first reaction to a friendly blog request is “I’m not a writer.” Thing is, they usually are writers if they write about what they know. If the act of writing itself intimidates your bloggers, tell them to give you bullet points and screenshots. (They will almost always give you more than that.)

As far as level of experience goes, a month of intense wrangling with a task goes a long way. For example, one of our Account Associates works with negative keywords a ton. Three months or so into the job, she came out with this guide, which got picked up by SearchEngineLand’s daily best.

3. Make it a competition. You know those handy sharing icons that keep track of tweets, likes, shares, etc.? People LOVE to see their blogs getting circulated. We talk about the “blog of the week” in our team meetings, and believe you me, people who post blogs keep track of their numbers. (“Did you see all of my tweets?” Yes, indeed.)

social shares

Everyone starts at zero, but it’s enthralling to watch the numbers go up.

4. Recognize the contributors. Aside from all of the tweets/likes, which are awesome, people like to be recognized — especially people who aren’t born into blogging and need some persuasion. A little PowerPoint preso love, a little company update when a blog does well…if you’re a content manager and your colleague took time away from his/her duties to give you some great content, that’s worth a thank-you.

5. Run the damn thing like a newspaper. Set hard deadlines and hold them – if you don’t, they’ll start sliding everywhere. Build an editorial calendar. Build backups into the calendar, especially around holidays (when people are on vacation) and the busiest times of the year. Always have 2-3 posts on hand for the inevitable bout of flu/client emergency/QBR.

6. Interview people. Interview industry experts, colleagues, clients — they’re fun posts (great for Fridays), and people are generally pretty happy when you ask for their opinion and publish it with their smiling mug (and, of course, a link back to their company website).

7. Be grateful, but give honest feedback. An ounce of preparation will make for a pound of good blogging (or something like that). If someone turns in a flimsy take on a topic, follow up with a couple of pointed questions that you can incorporate into the blog for something more hard-hitting. Realize two things: they’re doing you a favor by writing for you; and they want what they write to be awesome and well received.

What are your tips for creating a great blogging community?

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Hillary Read
Hillary Read joined 3Q Digital in August 2011 after over 5 years of e-commerce site and product management at ivgStores, LLC, and Mercantila, Inc. Prior to 3Q, Hillary was a sportswriter for the Burlington (VT) Free Press and a sports copy editor for the Boston Globe. She graduated from Harvard with a degree in English; she has also spent time in New Mexico as an artist-in-residence (fiction writing) at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM. She is a sports zealot and has a working knowledge of French.