How to run a successful company blog without having a meltdown

Your company blog is the place customers go to discover news, opinion and personality. If you’re running it independently, you’ve got total control. But if you want to create a multi-author blog from contributors across your agency, it starts getting trickier.

Lots of people think they can write and everyone has an opinion about writing. You’ve got feelings and careers to consider and lots of agencies discover the multi-author blog is where arguments about marketing and brand voice can often erupt.

The most successful multi-author blogs work because they allow personalities to shine while always supporting the core brand voice. They work because each contributor is an expert at what they do, and behind the scenes there’s an expert editing team lending a hand. The best multi-author blogs work because they’re easy.

So what are the key challenges to running a multi-author blog for your company and how can you do it without having a meltdown?

Challenge 1: It’s too difficult to get involved

I’ve seen agency blogs fail because it’s too hard for contributors to get involved. That might be too much freedom (‘Write about what you want!’), too many rules (‘Don’t mention any clients!’) or simply a lack of information about why, how and what contributors should be doing.

By making it easy for people to get involved, you’re reducing difficulty around one of the worst parts of being an editor and curator: encouraging people to create content. Making it simple is one of the most important steps to a content-creating culture.

How to avoid the meltdown

Make it simple for you and your contributors by:

  • Setting up a quick-read, FAQ email for contributors explaining why the blog exists, how it’s used in the business and what sort of articles work well
  • Giving them themes to write about, or suggesting title ideas if they’re really stuck
  • Letting them know you are there to help by editing and proofing their work
  • Asking for short, simple articles or finding easier ways to contribute – like transcribing a conversation you have with a contributor, or recording short videos

No-one likes doing something difficult. Make contributing easy and you’ll have people asking to be involved, not being press-ganged.

Challenge 2: There’s no consistency so your brand gets lost

Multi-author blogs are great because they showcase the different personalities in your agency. However, your brand can quickly become lost if content is inconsistent. That includes grammar, spelling, tone of voice, headings and even your tagging system. While these elements feel small, when inconsistencies keep happening they will have a negative impact on your brand voice.

How to avoid the meltdown

Write a tone of voice document for your agency blog that’s easy for contributors to understand, and include real examples of words or structures that are ‘brand approved’.

Include a ‘back end’ section in the document which includes information on the categories, tagging and metadata you use, plus how you label images and links.

Then, very importantly, ask your contributors to read it and stick to it where possible. Sit down with them to talk it through, if it helps.

Use this tone of voice document to edit contributor’s articles where necessary. This will make your contributors and your own team more consistent, meaning your brand blog always sounds like it’s coming from your business.

Challenge 3: Your editing team is absolutely unlovable

Grumpy editors work perfectly on screen because they are anti-heroes; a success despite personality problems.

In real life, the unlovable but ultimately successful editing team just come across as a pack of word-hounds desperate to sniff out contributors’ mistakes. If your team are unloved, your agency blog will be unloved, wasting a valuable marketing channel.

How to avoid the meltdown

Remember as an editor you’re likely to know more about writing and what makes great content than your contributors. Don’t rub it in their faces, don’t be disparaging and don’t edit their personality out of their article. If you’ve overcome challenges 1 and 2, this will be much easier to manage.

Lots of people are frightened of writing. They might have experienced negative reactions at school, or struggle to communicate in words despite being excellent in person. Take time to be lovable: explain your edits in person, praise their efforts and show that you value what they’re doing.

It’s your responsibility to make the agency blog brilliant, and that’ll come from great contributing experts. So make people want to work with you, not avoid you.

Challenge 4: No-one knows what’s happening with the blog

Your agency blog is one of your main external marketing channels, letting you speak directly to your customers. Yet the phrase ‘What’s happening with our blog?’ is infuriatingly common inside of businesses, especially small ones. No-one who works for your business knows what’s going on, leaving the blog unread and stories unshared.

How to avoid the meltdown

Your agency blog needs plenty of internal and external marketing to really get the views (and ROI) you want. Make sure what you’re doing with and on the blog is a regular part of internal communications in your organisation, however casual that is.

Some of the ways you can market your multi-author blog internally are:

  • Regular sharing of success stories and blog stats to help contributors feel valued
  • Announcing upcoming blog posts and how to be involved
  • Writing content which uses colleague quotations
  • Giving kudos for the best blog post shares by colleagues

By keeping your colleagues and your customers informed, you’ll find your blog activity has greater reach as staff start to share stories (and not just your social media team).

The final thought

A multi-author blog can add personality and interest to your agency’s marketing, but only if it’s done well. Avoid the meltdown and remember to:

  • Make it easy to get involved
  • Use guidelines for consistency
  • Be a lovable editing team that shows how much they value your contributors
  • Share what you’re doing internally

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