Is your charity’s blog struggling to get the number of views you’d like? Here I’ll share some advice on how to help you get more people to read your charity’s blogs.
You’ve written a great blog post for your charity. You share it with the world (or ask your digital team to do that). Then you check back a few days later, and… only a handful of people have read it. Was all that work worth it?
Of course, ‘views’ and ‘clicks’ aren’t everything. You also want to know what your readers do once they’ve read it: how long they spend reading it, are they reading other blogs, are they clicking on any ‘call-to-actions’ you have put in the blog post, and so on.
But whatever action you’re hoping people will take, they won’t be able to do it without reading your blog post first. So getting more people to read it is a good place to start.
‘Promoting it more’ is not the only solution. I think there’s a lot of factors ‘upstream’ which will also influence whether your audience wants to read it.
In short, to get as many people as you want to read a blog, I think three things need to happen:
- It must be the right blog post for the right audience,
- The link to the blog post must be as ‘clickable’ as possible.
- You need to get the blog post in front of the audience.
Let’s take each of these three things in turn.
Right subject, right audience
Before you write a single word, you need to identify what the blog is going to be about. Find a combination of the right angle, on the right topic, for the right audience. And you’re off to a great start.
The very first thing to think about – who is this for?
In my mind, for a blog post from a medical research charity, there’s three broad public audiences.
- Supporters: People who are connected to your charity, because they’ve donated, or volunteered, or campaigned. They will often have a personal connection with the condition your charity works on.
- Followers: people who are connected to the cause, but are not yet supporters. For example, they may have recently been diagnosed. Or a family member has the condition your charity works on.
- The general public: people who have no connection to the condition, or your charity.
There could also be other more specialised audiences you want to reach with your blog. Such as researchers, policymakers, and healthcare professionals.
Whoever it is, it’s really important to nail down exactly who you’re making this for. Everything else follows from there.
Is it something that your audience wants to know about, or should know about?
There are lots of ways to find ideas for blog posts, which you could use to identify popular topics or test your ideas against.
You may have to accept that the topic you’ve chosen is fairly niche, and is never destined to get millions of views. That’s OK. It’s better to make a big difference to a small number of people than to barely register with a larger audience.
How are you approaching the topic you’ve chosen?
Let’s say your topic is something like ‘stigma around mental illness’. There’s a lot of different angles you could take with that, for example:
- Tips for how to talk to family about mental health
- What not to say to someone with depression
- Q&A with a researcher who studies mental health stigma
- 4 research projects your charity is funding to combat stigma
- Interviews with people who’ve experienced discrimination at work
As you can see, though the topic is broadly the same, the different angles might appeal to different audiences. Find a good angle that resonates with your audience.
You could also take a more ‘topical’ approach. Say there’s been a storyline in a popular soap or TV programme, or a news story about a celebrity, or a particular ‘awareness day’ is approaching, your blog could use a current event as a ‘hook’.
I’ve written before about different formats for blog posts, which could act as inspiration for new angles.
Making the blog post ‘clickable’
Your audience is busy people. They’ve got hundreds of unread emails, and the ones they do read, they really only scan through. Their social media timelines are bombarding them with everything that the internet has to offer. And when they search for a question on Google, there are billions of options.
How are you going to make your blog post stand out? What’s going to make them stop scrolling and click? Here are a few tips.
Your blog headline is one of the first things that people see. And they will use it to decide whether to read it, or just to carry on scrolling. What will indicate to them most clearly that this blog will answer their question? What will grab their attention?
There are tools available which can help you right exciting and intriguing headlines, such as CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer. Personally, I think what they tend to produce can feel a bit forced or overblown. But have a play around and see for yourself.
Another approach would be to think about how the title relates to the content. What will the post do for your audience? Will it save them time, or make conversations easier, or give them the information they need? Does your blog post convey a controversial opinion? Does it bust some myths, or clarify a misunderstanding? Make sure the title sets up a ‘promise’ that the blog post itself delivers on.
An intriguing premise or a unique angle could also help with ideas for a title. For example, recently I wrote a blog for Fundraising.co.uk about how people got their first job in the charity sector. It could have been called “How people get into the charity sector”, which would be perfectly fine but a bit boring. Instead, because it was based upon a moderately viral tweet, I called it “200+ charity people told me how they got their first job in the sector. Here’s what I learnt.” (Much more interesting, I think.)
Having said that, an important consideration is search engine optimisation, or SEO. If you’re expecting people to find this blog post by searching for it (e.g. on Google), then you also need to also consider including the search term (also known as a ‘keyword’) in the title. You might have a really “clever” title with a funny pun in mind. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have a sense of humour. Stick to something that’s clear, and that directly relates to the search terms that people use.
I’ve written before about understanding the language your audience uses. In short, use tools like Answer The Public, Keywords Everywhere, or Google Trends, to get a picture of what search terms people are using, and what questions they’re asking. (The title is not the only thing to think about when it comes to SEO, but it’s a good start).
A short blurb or subtitle provides a bit of information that could entice someone to read it. It’ll appear in search results and sometimes when you share the blog social media. It could also be included when you’re sending the blog post in an email newsletter. Spend a bit of time getting this right.
The featured image of the blog post (which often appears at the top) also helps to grab attention. What’s going to make some scrolling on their phone stop to read your blog?
Humans are naturally drawn to people’s faces, so an image with a person looking at the camera could help. Alternatively, you could borrow an image from a researcher your charity funds, use some stock photography, or make your own illustration.
Getting your blog in front of your audience
You’ve got a cracking idea, you’ve written a great blog post, and you’ve added an enticing title and header image. Now comes the time to share it with the world.
When coming up with a strategy, it’s really worth speaking to the person/people who are responsible for your digital communication channels. Even better, have that conversation early, before you’ve even written the blog post – they might be able to help you with coming up with ideas, or guiding you in the right direction for a title, for example.
Where will your audience find this blog post? How will you get it in front of them? Via searching on Google? In an email newsletter? On social media? (And which social media platform?).
I’ve shared some tips for how to promote your blog posts before. In essence, it comes back to what we looked at first – the topic, the angle, and the audience. Something that’s tailored for your charity’s supporters is probably going to reach them more easily via email, or via social media. Something that’s aimed at the general public may be responding to a question they might be searching on Google, and so needs to be tailored towards that.
If you’re sharing on social media, how exactly will this be promoted to them? Video? Images or GIFs? Or platform specific formats such as Twitter threads or Instagram stories? Again, I’ve shared some ideas for promoting blogs elsewhere.
It’s also worth considering whether it would just be easier to get the main points across natively on social media, rather than making someone go to a different website. Could you create a great video that gets the points across? Could you break your blog post up into a Twitter thread instead?
How often and for how long?
Depending on the topic, it might be fairly time-specific, in which case it makes sense to just promote it hard for a short period of time. Otherwise, if it is more ‘evergreen’, you can consider the different ways that you might promote the blog, trying a new approach if others have not worked. For example, you could tie in an existing blog post to a social media ‘awareness day’.
Want me to give you some personalised advice on your charity’s blog? I’d be happy to help – get in touch by email.