All it takes is a simple plan and a little effort

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

If I had a penny for every client who’s told me they want to launch a corporate blog, I’d probably have at least 49p by now (that’s almost $0.80 or €0.58). Not a fortune, but you get the point: it seems like everybody wants to do it. But not everybody actually does. If I had a penny for each one of those who’s followed through, I’d be hard pressed to break into double figures. Why, I hear you ask. If blogging is cheap (sort of), quick & easy (sort of) and effective (very) then what’s the problem? Well it is quick and easy, but only if you plan right. And most people don’t. Instead, they launch themselves into the project with a great burst of enthusiasm, but soon find they’re running out of road. And yet it really doesn’t have to be that way. If you follow a few simple guidelines, blogging becomes simplicity itself. Not something you have to do, but something you really want to do, because you’ve got such great material.
  1. Keep an ideas book. Inspiration never does command performances. It strikes when you least expect it, and often when you’ve got nothing to record it on (or in). So have a dedicated place, real or virtual, to record those ideas. A notebook, Google Keep or even just pile of floaters.
  2. Bang heads together. If you can’t think what to blog, then call a meeting. No need to get formal: you can do it on Skype, or round the water cooler, or over lunch. Ask your colleagues what’s new, what’s hot, and what they’re working on. A little digging will unearth some great stories.
  3. Get on the case. Don’t just stop at your colleagues. Your clients also make great blog material. Case studies are a win-win topic: you showcase your products or services, and they get free publicity. But here’s a hint – don’t make the ‘challenge’ (i.e. problem) they faced reflect badly on them. Focus instead on the solution.
  4. Follow my leader. Let’s face it: everything’s been done before, so stop looking for something truly original. If you’ve read a great blog post or article, think how you could adapt, develop and run with it. I’m not talking about copying here. Instead, use it as a starting point and put your spin on it. Even better, pull ideas from several sources, so you have a breadth of vision that nobody else has.
  5. Get practical. Everybody loves tips and tricks and how-to articles (why are you reading this?). So share time-saving ideas and best practices. Show people how to do more with less, and be more productive. Simplify complex ideas and provide inspiration. Do their job for them (well, almost).
  6. Recycle material. If nothing’s new (see point 4) then at some point, you may have to repeat yourself. But remember, you can easily repackage and re-purpose written content. That brochure? Perfect blog material. The email? Ditto. The newsletter? Same.
  7. Review and preview. End of the year? Look back and forward. End of a project? Give the highs and the lows. New technology, legislation or rules? Explain, excite and expand. If you’re at the end or the beginning of something, there’s always something to say.
  8. Be the go-to blog. Your readers are busy and looking for ways of getting things done faster. So save them the trouble, by doing a round-up. Link to other blogs, news stories and developments. Summarise and simplify. Do the hard work, so they don’t have to.
  9. Theme your posts. Technology month, productivity week, jargon-free Friday. Map out the year, and colour-code the themes. Think in broad brush-strokes, and work out the fine detail later. Big themes mean lots of little stories for your blog.
  10. Go multimedia. Want to do something different? Grab a camcorder and start video blogging. Take all of the ideas above, and get them in front of the lens. Talk to clients, colleagues, the man/woman in the street. Show your human side, and connect with the reader. If you’re not ready for video, then stick to sound and start a podcast. You can reach listeners on the move (commuting, driving, working out) when they’d never read your blog.
  11. Plan, plan, plan. If a thing is worth saying, it’s worth saying three times. Planning is the crucial element in blogging. Always know what you’re doing next week and next month. Perhaps a little less detail on the following months, but at least an idea. Remember those colour-coded themes. Never ever get caught out thinking ‘what now?’
  12. Have a bottom drawer. The best-laid plans of mice and women gang aft agley (as Burns almost said). People will let you down. A case study will fail to get sign-off. Product launches will be delayed and stories will turn sour. So always have a story or two in reserve. It’s a tip I picked up from a newspaper editor, and it’s served me well on more than one occasion. The story should ideally not be linked to a specific date or event, so you can use it at a moment’s notice. Voilà – instant blog entry.
So there you have it. Not so much the 12 days of Christmas, as the 12 tips of Christmas. Speaking of which, have a very happy one. And a wonderful, blog-filled 2014.