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Can You Really Build a Blog Written by Employees?
Posted on April 8th 2014
Let’s be honest, asking your employees to blog is probably a non-starter.
Blogging is writing and writing for most people has a fear factor right up there with public speaking. You can coach, bribe, threaten all you want but in the end, you’ll be writing most of your blog posts.
So forget about getting your employees to blog.
Instead, get them to contribute blog ideas. The hardest part of blogging is the ideas. The writing part can be delegated or outsourced. But with a little direction, your employees can offer a steady supply of awesome ideas that you can turn into blog content your readers will love.
Give these ideas a try:
Turn Questions into Content
Marcus Sheridan is famous for a brilliantly simple tactic: answer questions. Simply ask your sales and customer service people to email you a copy of the questions they receive and they answers they give. Take these emails, put them on a list, and turn each into a blog post.
Invite your subject matter experts to lunch and interview them about their area of expertise. It’s easier to talk then write. Bring a high-level outline of what you want to know and a few questions to get the conversation going. Add a recording app to your phone and record the conversation. Transcribe the recording and add it to your list of ideas.
Don’t have time for lunch? Send your questions by email. Ask for the best answers that time will allow. Tell them that you’ll follow-up in a few days. A few days later, stop by their desk with a recorder. Most of the time your employee will have avoided the question so take this time to interview them. They will be happy to help since a conversation is easy and will get that darn email questionnaire off their to-do list.
Create Ideas Together
You can also hold a monthly brown-bag lunch session where everyone contributes ideas for the editorial calendar. I generally hate brainstorming sessions because they tend to reward the loudmouth. The loudmouth is usually the one with the worst ideas.
Instead, ask people to come to the session to help you out. Say this…
“I was thinking about having you write a blog post but then I realized that you don’t have time and you probably hate writing. So I will write the post for you. I just need a few ideas. I’m inviting you to a get-together where you can help me with a few ideas. By the way, I’m bringing candy/pizza/beer”
At the meeting do not use the term brainstorm or ideation. Instead open-ended questions:
- What should I customers know about our product?
- What is an unusual use of your product?
- What do our best customers love most about our product?
- What is a competitor weakness that our prospects should know about?
- How do we offer superior customer service
Record the meeting. Use a notepad to write down follow-up questions. Add the best answers on a whiteboard. Seeing the questions on while prompt new ideas and follow-up questions.
Recognize contributors, and ask pointed question of employees that aren’t participating.
Transcribe the meeting, pull out the best ideas and add to your list.
Small Effort – Once a Month Publishing
You might be forced to rely on your team for finished blog posts. In this case, only ask for one post a month.
Be clear on exactly what you want. I recommend asking for 200-300 words which is usually about three paragraphs. Tell your writer that you only want them to spend 30 minutes on the post. Tell them that you’ll create a headline and edit the post.
This tip will only work if you lead from the front. You “must” write a couple of posts a month. Employees will think you are just dumping work on them If you aren’t writing too.
More than Blogging: Everyone Can Contribute
Remember that your blog is a platform. You can publish text as posts, audio recording as podcasts, video as a video blog. Your employees may hate to write but they may be willing to create other types of content. Beggars can’t be choosers so welcome any content you receive.
One More Step
Did you know that Social Media Examiner has an 8-person editing team? Mike Stelzner, Founder and CEO, call them the “beautification team.” They take a guest post submission and turn it an edited, proofread and fact-checked post.
You may not have the budget for dedicated editorial team, but you can hire a freelance writer to turn your raw ideas into finished posts. I recommend you working with a few freelances until you find someone that you like. Show your freelancer blog post templates and blog posts you like to shorten their learning curve.
Once you’ve picked a preferred freelancer, send blog post ideas directly to them. You can use a service like Zapier to automatically pick emails with a specific tag and email them to your freelancer.
Do you think you can put these ideas to work in your business?