Here are some common reasons why people find it difficult to write a regular blog – and some solutions to overcome these barriers.
At charities, we have to be mindful that the time we spend (writing blogs or otherwise) is paid for by donations from our supporters. It’s absolutely right we should be spending it wisely, and getting the most out of it.
I’ve been writing blog posts for the best part of 10 years, both personal and professional. Some have been more successful than others.
Writing a blog is hard work. And it’s not just the writing – coming up with ideas, editing, getting approval from colleagues, and sharing it with the world, seems like a never-ending uphill hike. It’s easy to think that giving up would be the best option for everyone.
So how do we keep going and not lose faith?
In this blog post, I’ve gathered some common reasons why people find writing a regular blog difficult. Much of this also applies to other forms of regular rich content – videos, podcasts, live online events, and so on. I also provide some solutions which will hopefully make the process a little easier, make the most of your time, and maybe find some joy in writing again.
How many of these problems resonate with you?
We’re not getting the results we want
Problem: It’s great that you have a specific goal for your blog. But you’re disappointed that it’s not achieving what you hoped. Now you’re wondering whether it’s worth doing at all.
Solution: Firstly, revisit your goal, and look at how you’re measuring it. Certain goals are easier to measure than others. If you’re struggling to measure your blog’s performance quantitatively (e.g. through web analytics, donations, sign-ups, and so on) then maybe you could conduct some qualitative research with regular readers. This could be a pop-up survey on blog posts. Or, if you know your blog’s audience, you could ask them directly to fill out a questionnaire, or even a focus group.
This might reveal that although you’re not achieving what you set out to do, it may be providing a different value to your readers.
We’re not getting enough views of the blog posts
Problem: You were hoping for thousands of readers and you’re getting dozens. It’s hard to not feel disappointed after all the hard work you put in.
Solution: Remember that views aren’t everything. Sure, you want people to read them and take action, but maybe your blog has a limited audience who absolutely love what you do. It’s better to have a big impact on a small number of people than to barely register with a huge audience.
Otherwise, there may be simple fixes that can help increase your blog’s readership and the number of people reading your blog posts. Three main points:
- You need 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 right audience.
Read more about how to get more people to read your blog.
Every blog takes ages to write
Problem: It feels like writing a blog takes forever. Every time you look at ‘write blog post’ on your to-do list, it feels like a burden. Never mind that you have a lot of other work which you could be doing.
Solution: Blog posts don’t have to take ages. There’s plenty of quick content ideas you could employ, on a regular basis or as a one-off on the weeks when time is especially short. The essence is:
- Repurpose: Re-use things that you’ve already written e.g. turn a progress report for a donor into a blog post
- Recycle: Have a repeatable format which you could use as a template. Articles like ‘This much I know’, or ‘A day in the life of…’ or ‘behind the headlines’, or ‘5 ways we’re helping…’
- Guest posts: don’t have the time to write a blog? Get someone else to do it for you! Either someone external, or even one of your colleagues.
- Outsource: find freelance writers who can write blog posts for you. (like me! *ahem* Find out what I could do for you here. )
Another tip for writing efficiently is to write a skeleton outline first, then flesh it out. If the prospect of filling a blank page with hundreds of words is daunting, write a few sentences (say, 5 or 6) which outline the rough idea for the blog. Then add to that outline, and you’ll have a full blog post before you know it. (It’s likely this method will also mean your blog posts are more focussed and less waffly).
If it feels like writing the blog is taking over your life, you could benefit from creating a blog production schedule. It’ll help with compartmentalising your blog writing and stop it from expanding across your diary. Keeping a schedule also makes your writing more time-efficient. Whatever blog frequency you use, it’s important to regularly review it (say every 6 months) to make sure that you haven’t committed too much.
It takes ages to get approval and sign-off from everyone involved
Problem: You’ve finished your draft of the blog post. But then it has to be sent to what feels like 20 people to get their approval. By the time the sign-off process is finished, you’re just glad to see the back of it. You dread the next time you’ll have to run the sign-off gauntlet.
Solution: I’ve written before about how to cut down sign-off. No one likes sign-off, but it is important. First, identify exactly why the process is taking so long. Then put in steps to mitigate that for next time. One key tip is to divide up the jobs and be specific with what you want people to do.
If getting everyone to do their jobs is a regular problem, again, you may benefit from creating a blog production schedule. This is a process that everyone agrees on to ensure a smoother process for each blog post. It’s crucial to make sure everyone involved knows they’re involved, and that they have the time they’ll need to spend booked into their diary.
It’s hard to come up with ideas
Problem: Every time you sit down to write a blog post, you have no idea where to start. You feel like you’ve already done every topic to death. Or you have no ideas at all.
Solution: There’s plenty of ways that charities can find great ideas for blog posts. The key is to take the pressure off yourself to come up with the ideas and look around for what’s happening outside of your bubble. That might include:
- Search terms on Google, through services like Answer The Public or Keywords Everywhere
- Addressing common questions your charity gets via phone, email, or social media
- Speaking to the people connected to your charity – volunteers, policymakers, supporters, front-line staff and so on.
- Look at the news headlines, and find an angle which could tap into something topical
- Culture – whether it’s a big blockbuster film, a hard-hitting TV documentary, or the latest Netflix hit, does your charity have something relevant to say?
- Conferences and other meetings are often great places to gather stories.
Even if you feel like you’ve done a particular topic many times before, look for a new angle. Maybe someone you haven’t spoken to before has an interesting perspective on the topic. Or there’s a new development which has passed you by.
We’re just bored of our own voice
Problem: Although you’re happy with writing the blog posts, you feel they’re a bit tired. You feel yourself repeating the same messages, using the same tired old clichés, saying the same things over and over again. This is particularly understandable if you’re the only person who writes the blog.
Solution: Time to mix it up. Bring in other people to write posts for you. One example of a charity that does this well is Alcohol Change UK. Their blog doesn’t feel like it’s “owned” by the charity. It feels more like a shared space where anyone with opinions about alcohol harm can tell their story.
You could also ask your colleagues or your charity’s volunteers if they would like to write for the blog. Everyone has a unique perspective, even if it’s of the same thing.
Finally, you could always outsource your writing to professional writers. They might not be the subject matter expert that you are, but in fact, an external perspective might be beneficial to your charity. Of course, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of outsourcing.
I’m just not a good writer
Problem: Even though writing blogs is part of your job, you don’t feel good about it. Maybe you see the time it takes to write your blogs or get them edited and signed off as an indictment of your writing abilities. Or maybe you’ve even been told directly in the past that you’re a bad writer. Either way, you don’t look forward to writing anything – you wish you didn’t have to do it at all.
Solution: This can be a hard psychological barrier to overcome. Firstly, try and get some objectivity on your abilities. Write down how you feel about your writing – any thoughts that come to your head. Then try and challenge these thoughts. Look for facts that counter this. For example, you might feel that you’re not a good writer, but the dozens of comments on social media saying how much they loved your article might say otherwise.
Re-write the thoughts you have about your writing, update them to take into account the facts. Make them less about you as a writer and more about the writing itself. So, instead of “I’m a terrible writer”, you might say something like “Sometimes my blog posts don’t get the reaction I was after, but sometimes they do.” Practice challenging your unhelpful thoughts every time they pop up.
Beyond this, if you want to improve your writing, ask a trusted colleague or friend to give you some tips on how you could improve. Formalise your process of editing your own writing.
And remember: if your blog post isn’t getting the results you want (whether it’s clicks, views, donations, sign-ups, etc) that isn’t necessarily because of the writing. There may be other factors at play.
Do you need to get the joy back into writing your charity’s blog? I’d be happy to have a chat to share some more tips: get in touch.