Before you start/revamp your blog

…ask if you should even have one.

You read the headline correctly. I just said that you should be taking a hard look at whether a blog is good for your organization.

Keeping a blog relevant and current is a lot of work. You need to make sure that your efforts will pay off before you put in the effort.

It’s easy to say that you’re going to start blogging, but it’s challenging to actually sustain focused quality content. The handful of blogs that I’ve started and abandoned in the past is testimony to that.

Bottom line, you need to do a little bit of cost-benefit analysis before you start.

The costs


There’s an assumption floating around the Internet that blogging is a free marketing tool. Make no mistake. It isn’t. It’s actually quite expensive.

You can set up a WordPress or Blogspot blog for little to no money, but getting the platform up and running isn’t the costly part.

The real cost comes from the hours your team will spend planning and compelling posts. Good posts don’t take half an hour to write. You’re going to have to dedicate some serious time if you want to create content that your audience wants to read.

Resource gathering

Good posts require quality resource. For example, if we’re going to write blog posts about digital marketing, we better have actual resource to back it up. Hot air and marketing fluff doesn’t work well on a blog. People expect you to dig into topics that they care about. You need to enough research to be able to create content that meets that expectation.

Audience cultivation

It’s hard to cultivate an audience that cares, especially if you’re starting from zero. Here are a few of the things it requires:

  • Consistent posting
  • Transparency
  • Relevance

Don’t take this piece lightly. Danny Iny considers it so important that he wrote a whole book about building an engaged audience.

The benefits

An engaged audience

An engaged audience may be hard to build, but once you have one, it’s worth it. Once someone truly believes in the work that you do, they’re going to support you in ways a direct mail donor never would.

Engaged audiences donate, tell their friends about you and interact with you on a regular basis. They’ve made the transition from a supporter of an organization to someone dedicated to your cause.

A rich storytelling platform

A blog gives you the opportunity to share stores you would never be able to tell in your normal fundraising activities. The opportunities are huge. You can:

  • Give real feedback about the work your organization is doing.
  • Educate your readers about the problem your organization helps solve.
  • Introduce your readers and donors to the people you help with videos, text and images.

An opportunity to become a leading voice for your cause

If you can create consistent — and truthful — content, your readers will begin to view you as an expert. You’ll have a whole new opportunity to speak about your mission, and people will listen.

The moment of truth

After weighing the costs and the benefits, you’re ready to make an informed decision about whether a blog is right for your organization. Think about it; you’ll be glad you did.

Full disclosure about the Masterworks blog

Our blog is a work in progress. I can say this because I’m the editor.

A couple years ago we looked at ourselves in the mirror and asked whether blogging was right for Masterworks. We decided it was. I still believe this, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have work to do.

But, in keeping with Masterworks’ core values of humility and integrity, I have to admit that we’ve got a long way to go with both of these.

In the past we were posting whenever someone was inspired to write. Posts were infrequent, at best. There was no thought put into planning what topics to post about.

During the last year, we determined a sustainable posting frequency. This year, we’re using our most popular posts from 2011 to determine what topics to cover in the future.

We’re making progress, but we have a long way to go.

Still believe you should be blogging?

If you’ve done your own cost-benefit analysis and decided that blogging is right for your organization, check back here tomorrow and Friday.

We’re using content strategy and editorial planning to improve our blog. My next two posts will explain how you can use them to get your blog up and running successfully.

For now I’d love to have a conversation. What did you find when you weighed the costs and benefits of blogging? Leave a comment here or catch up with me on Twitter @doughj.