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A Great Idea for Nonprofit Bloggers: Seasons

I just read a great post called “Publishing Regularly” by Andrew Woods. Nonprofits can take a lot from Andrew’s ideas about how to blog regularly:

Work fluctuates, commitments change, and sometimes – people need a break from time to time. Instead, consider a different strategy – publishing in seasons.

The idea of a blogging season is pretty simple: let your blog’s content fluctuate with alternating periods of posting and not posting. This isn’t any different from what many TV shows and podcasts have done for years.

To be clear: The idea isn’t an excuse to not write on your blog. Rather, the idea is to make blogging more sustainable, interesting, and fun!

Blogging Seasons Help Sustain Blogs

You don’t want your organization’s last blog post to be from September 2012, but it’s hard to publish every month or every week. This is where the idea of “seasons” can help. When deciding how to use them, take advantage of their flexibility and align them with your organization:

There are two factors about a season – the length of the season, and the publishing frequency during the season. The off-season time is equally important, as it helps set your audience expectations. If you publish your blog content in seasons, you can also plan for downtime during the gaps. The gaps between seasons becomes valuable time. The gaps provide you with time to focus on other priorities, while giving you time to plan your content for the next season.

There are then lots of examples of how you could do this:

  • Post weekly for 10 weeks and then take 2 off.
  • Post monthly for 5 months then take 1 off.
  • Post twice-weekly for a 8 weeks, then take 4 weeks off.

Since these seasons are time-driven, use a calendar to plan out topics, authoring responsibilities, and reminders to publish. These so-called “editorial calendars” are a crucial tool for any organization that expects to maintain a blog on their website regardless of whether it posts in seasons or not.

Ideas for Blogging Seasons

Blogging seasons for nonprofits can vary and adapt as necessary. Here are some ideas:

  • Use blogging seasons to build toward important events for your nonprofit. If you participate in an annual giving day, post a month’s worth of posts in the lead-up to the day highlighting ways the money gets used.
  • Focus on natural seasons that align with your constituents’ lives. For education nonprofits, the school year, spring break, and summer break all offer natural divisions of time that could align with a blog.
  • Key off important news in the world. An environmental organization might schedule a blog season following the passage of an important bill or a high-profile environmental disaster.
  • Do something silly or unexpected. It’s important for writers and audiences to not always be so serious! Post the funniest stories from your organization’s work or compare each program or project you do to a movie or Harry Potter character. Get creative in a way your audience will appreciate!
  • Align with your organization’s internal needs and work. If you do annual staff evaluations, have staff publicly share their proudest moment from the year and something they hope to improve next year. If you’re in a strategic planning year, a season could focus on alternate visions of your organization 10, 20, or 50 years in the future!
  • Play with format. Blog posts can be anything you can post on a website and that may interest your audience. Try photo essays, quick video field stories, or poetry. And of course, don’t forget how easy it is to include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more with WordPress!

Benefits for You, Your Nonprofit, and Your Blog

Blogging seasons can have lots of benefits:

  • Give authors a break to avoid burn out
  • Encourage more creativity and diversity among post content and types
  • Spin-off easy-to-write content like round-ups, reflections, and blogging season introductions
  • Make it easier for lots of staff members to contribute website content given the focus on a tightly defined topic
  • Improve coordination between your blog and social media
  • Give audiences something refreshing and future content to look forward to

All of the above should help keep visitors engaged and produce valuable (and probably search engine-friendly!) content for your website.

A Simple Idea. What Will You Do With It?

Hopefully the gears of your mind are spinning and you’re excited by the possibilities Andrew’s idea presents! Posting in seasons to your blog can make it easier to maintain in the long term and keep things fresh for everyone involved.

Got a great idea for a blogging season for your organization? Share what you do and what some seasons might be for your nonprofit!

Photo c/o tanakawho on Flickr.

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