I’ve had similar conversations with some new clients recently. “How can you think up new things to say at my blog every day?” they ask dubiously. Or, “I don’t think there’s enough material for a weekly blog post. I can’t think of anything.” Or, “It takes me an hour just to think of a topic. Are you sure you can do this?”
A related conversation came up with a long-term client, too. He has staff members post snippets at Basecamp for me to work with. He was disappointed in his staff’s literary efforts. “The post you did had so much more depth,” he complained. “The developer’s posting was shallow.”
“I can work with shallow,” I assured him. I can’t develop custom software. The developer and I have different jobs. My job with that company is to take a casual sentence from the developer and turn it into a thought-provoking (and business-producing) blog post.
And that’s the thing about a company blog. Unless you happen to be a writing company, you may not have someone who’s really suited to writing your blog. Here are some of the people companies often choose to do their blogging:
- The CEO, because he knows all about the company. I see the thinking here, but the chances of the CEO’s having plenty of free time to spend blogging are slim. The CEO may have great communication skills, but blogging is hardly ever the best use of his or her time.
- The secretary, because he can type. I can hardly even bring myself to discuss this one, because the differences between writing and typing are so obvious to me, but it’s a very common choice. The secretary probably also knows all about the company, and he or she is probably also very busy.
- The marketing department, because that’s what the blog is for. The marketing department is often a very good choice, because they’re likely to have some writing skills, and yes the blog is for marketing, in the final analysis. Traditional marketing people, however, may not understand how search engines work, and they may not understand the concept of inbound marketing. In that case, you can end up with a blog that’s just a succession of slightly disguised ads, and that’s not what the blog is for.
- The intern or the owner’s spouse or the security officer, because he has time. If you have a nice person hanging around the office without too much to do, you may be tempted to give him or her the task of blogging. I can see the thinking on this one, too, and I have sympathy for it. Unless the person in question happens to be a skillful writer, it’s not a great choice. This person doesn’t usually even know all about the company.
I recently read a claim that every company needs a fulltime person to handle social media. I think a social media management plan from a company like ours is probably a better (and much cheaper) option for small companies. However, you do need someone specialized to take care of that blog for you. Here are some options:
- The person who writes for pleasure. If some staff member keeps a journal or writes short stories as a hobby, then take advantage of that skill set and make that person your blogger. They’ll probably be slower than a professional, but they may be willing to do it if you can free up some time for them from other tasks.
- The photographer. Use a picture and a caption for most blog posts, and just finesse the writing part. Of course, this only works if a) your photography is good and b) your business lends itself to this kind of blogging. It can be excellent for retail. This can be a good time to bring the secretary in — a poorly written caption with grammar or punctuation errors makes a terrible impression.
- A professional. In most cases, a professional blogger like me can write your blog better and more cost effectively than the people on your staff. That’s not what you hired your staff for. Sheer speed is a good enough reason for most companies to hire a pro, since the cost of a fast professional blog post is usually less than the cost of diverting staff to the task.
In the conversations I’ve reported above, the real answer is, “That’s why you hired me.” I’m good at this. Not everyone is. If your company builds things, or grows things, or sells things, then go on and do what you’re good at and let someone like me do your blog. It’s the most sensible approach.