While technically everyone on your team might be expected to contribute to your blog, what do you do when only a few people actually do? How do you get more people to contribute quality content?
If you’re in charge of a blog calendar, you’re likely a person with some capacity for writing. Your mistake is assuming everyone on your team has that same capacity. Transforming complex ideas into succinct written pieces isn’t easy for everyone, just as, say, drawing detailed cartoons isn’t something everyone can do.
To illustrate this point, I asked members of the Mightybytes team to take a test. The challenge: in five minutes, draw a picture of a unicorn making out with a narwhal.
For some folks, figuring out how to draw a visual representation of this odd concept did not come easy; they had a hard time visualizing and drawing the animal shapes without looking at the web for reference.
Others quickly completed the task in under the time limit.
This was a fun exercise to illustrate an important point: things that are simple for some people are difficult for others. As a content strategist, you should keep this in mind when wrangling blog contributors.
When asked to write a blog post, non-writers may have a hard time coming up with an approach, getting started, or writing anything at all. So if they can, they’ll avoid the task altogether. This lack of content puts a strain on already stretched content departments.
The solution? If you want self-identified non-writers to contribute to your blog, give them a framework that makes contributing easier.
Here are some tips that should help make it easier for everyone on your team to contribute to the blog.
Assign More Structured Content
Be clear and concise about the structure of an assigned post. Here are a few ideas how.
Roundups and Top 10 Lists
Lists give an automatic structure to content and don’t involve that much writing. Ask potential contributors to curate a list and write a few sentences about why they’ve selected each item on the list.
Response and Reaction posts
Even people who don’t like writing can compose a fired-up response to something they’re passionate about. If someone on your team has a reaction to a written piece (something on another blog, a recent event in the news), get them to capture their thoughts on it the same way they would a Facebook or blog comment, and use that material to tease out a full post.
Ask for Visual Content
Blog posts don’t always have to be driven by written content. As for visual content, like infographics, illustrations, or even video, to engage team members with skill sets outside the realm of written words.
Photo essays make great posts, and often writers used to using poor stock imagery forget about talented photographers (both amateur and professional) who might be willing to contribute visual content to the blog.
Everyone needs original visual content to accompany blog posts, but most editors (myself included) have to rely, at least partially, on stock imagery, which is why stock imagery and illustrations are a kajillion-dollar industry. If you’ve got someone on staff who can spend their blog contribution time allowance on contributing original illustrations to accompany posts, use that asset to your advantage rather than trying force them to work on the other side of the brain.
Find Usable Content Elsewhere
Curating content from different sources can also be an effective tactic for keeping your blog content fresh.
Repurpose Previously Created Content
Part of managing a sustainable content strategy is having the ability to repurpose usable content into other forms. Have any of your potential staff contributors created content recently in the form of conference presentations, books, webinars, videos, sketches, podcast interviews, etc.? Be mindful of the types of content non-writers produce when no one’s looking.
A single post doesn’t necessarily have to have a single author.
Tackle a topic your entire team can contribute to. Pose a question, or ask for advice, and get a short response from everyone on the team. The collection of responses makes for a single, cohesive post. You can even use Google forms to manage the questions and collect responses.
Interview potential contributors about topics they care about, either by having them write out their answers via email, or by recording interviews and transcribing them.
Create a Blog Series
Lead by example by creating a series of posts that contributors with a knack for writing can start first. Use those posts as a template for non-writers to follow, and give non-writers a hand by offering helpful edits and content guidance.
Remember: It’s Their Ideas You Want
Focus less on extracting complete blog posts from your team and focus instead on capturing their original ideas in whatever format you can. After all, it’s their original ideas you’re looking for them to contribute, not necessarily a piece of prose. Be creative in the methods you use to capture those ideas and you’ll make the process easier for your team and for yourself.