>>When we talk about “blogs,” we’re
basically talking about a public journal. So it’s a website where your program or
staff can talk about your events, your youth, your community, anything. And you can do it
in real time, meaning you write something up and click “Publish,” and there it is.
>>There are three main reasons to blog. First, to share pictures, videos, and writing that
highlight your program’s effectiveness. Secondly, to share them in real-time. You
can of course send pictures to your supporters in an email or a print mailing, but blogging
allows you to write and make something public in a matter of seconds. And of course a blog
allows for you to put these accomplishments on social media rather than just targeting
people who already know and support your program.>>Here’s the blog for Yellow Brick Road
in Portland, OR, who hold a FYSB Street Outreach grant.
>>The person who started this blog was the program director, Dennis Lundberg, whose initial
goal was to connect with the homeless youth in his city. Five years later, the blog has
grown to include everything from photos of nightly outreach efforts, links to relevant
research and new job opportunities for youth. His readers now range from local business
owners to the Mayor’s office.>>You can see it’s a little different than
a typical organization website. When you come to this blog, you get an immediate snapshot
of the most recent work Yellow Brick Road has done, a short description of who they
are, and a list of links to previous stories. You don’t read a program’s blog to find
their annual report or details about the board or the facilities.
>>What you’ll need. You’ll probably need one hour a day to devote
to writing, searching the web for things to share, or reaching out to others by commenting
on their blogs. When you do that, you can bring attention to your own work by linking
to it when leaving a comment. But the most important thing here is regularity: give readers
a reason to come back, whether it’s once a week or once a day.
>>You’ll want the person who does your blogging to be a fairly competent writer. Even though
it’s a relatively informal platform, incorrect grammar or spelling can really reflect poorly
on your work. You want someone who is comfortable writing shorter things and longer things without
much editing needed.>>Be sure to use the right tone. This blog
will be a public face for your organization, and your writer will be its voice. That person
needs to know exactly how the organization wants to present itself. It’s a fine balance:
you want to be professional, expert, and friendly.>>The last thing you’ll need is a blogging
platform. Here are four major platforms. Blogger and WordPress are standard, easy-to-use blogging
software that essentially look like email programs. For these you’ll want to be ready
to post original content pretty often.>>Also listed is Facebook, which isn’t exclusively
a blogging platform, but if your program has a Facebook page, you can simply start adding
long “Notes” there, which your friends can comment on or share themselves. Though
the other programs allow people to find your blog “by accident,” whether through a
Google search or just following links.>>Tumblr is an interesting platform because
it’s designed specifically for blogging but it also functions like a social network.
Other Tumblr users can “share” your posts, or repost them to their own sites and get
new readers to you. And you can do the same. If you like a new article or some other Tumblr
post, you can just click a button and that same post reappears on your blog and lets
the author know. So you can make connections a little easier that way. It’s probably
a little less work-intensive for that reason.>>Here’s the “Dashboard” for a WordPress
blog. As you see, the QuickPress section at the top right is all you need to make a post.
You can add a picture, type a few paragraphs, tag the post so people can find it by searching,
and that’s it.>>Everything else is bookkeeping. WordPress,
like all blogging software, keeps a record of how many posts you’ve published, how
many comments you receive, and how many people have linked to your blog around the web.
>>It also keeps track of how many views your blog posts have gotten, how many comments
have been registered, and any links to your blog posts on other sites. Use this information
to gauge the success of your blog and see how it grows.
>>That’s a Tumblr on the left. Notice it’s a little more spare in design and in content.
People don’t necessarily expect to read a novel on Tumblr, though posts can be as
long as you’d like. But mostly Tumblr is about sharing and quick interactions.
>>On the right is a WordPress blog, which you can see is a little busier with links
and has more text. More of a traditional blog look. The choice comes down to style and what
kind of content you’re looking to provide. If you want to write a lot, I’d go with
WordPress.>>Here are some tips to remember if you blog:
>>Take advantage of the immediacy: quickly share fun things like photos, announcements,
and special events. The whole point is that you can alert your youth or thank your donors
faster than through a print product.>>Do it regularly: Whether it’s monthly,
weekly, or daily, give your readers a reason to come back at a specific time.
>>And write well: Writing quickly doesn’t mean writing carelessly. This is still an
official communication from your organization, so it should reflect that. People expect that
a blog will be energetic and immediate, not unedited.