The Biggest Challenges in Maintaining and Growing Blogs
Results of a survey of RBI bloggers; both staff and external.
Recently, I surveyed 300 bloggers at Reed Business Information to find out the challenges they face in blogging. I received responses from 73 external bloggers and 44 editor/staff bloggers.
Blogging is different for editors/journalists than it is for industry professionals who are in the trenches, writing about their experiences and insights. Here’s some of their feedback, from each group separately.
Challenges for Business Media Editors
For a business media editor who spends their day creating content for a variety of media channels (print, anyone?), blogging gives its own unique challenges:
■ Finding time to blog.
■ More analytics.
■ Feedback from readers.
■ Technical issues.
■ Coming up with ideas for content.
■ Finding readers.
While these aren’t surprising or necessarily unique to business media editors, an additional challenge came through in the write-in responses:
How to juggle blogging with a full load of other high priority tasks.
This speaks to the need to prioritize the variety of tasks on the plate of your average editor—from print, to Web articles, to events, to social media, to blogs and so on. The key is to have an overarching editorial strategy that not only moves the brand forward but allows the editors to have a clear sense of what to do and the value it brings.
This is where marketing, editorial and business analysis come together. It’s where you assess ROI, performance and the one thing that is often not discussed enough: GOALS. For example, do editorial teams have weekly and monthly goals in terms of performance or connection with their audience? Because this would help set priorities, help align a business to common objectives, and help bring the customer closer to the producer.
Challenges for External Bloggers
On the other side of the coin are external bloggers. The specific challenges don’t change, but their ordering & priority do:
■ Knowing who their audience is.
■ Finding time to blog.
■ Getting & understanding analytics on what’s working and what isn’t.
■ Strategies & tactics on how get more feedback & comments.
■ How to grow engagement and return visits.
■ Ideas for content.
■ Marketing tips to grow readership.
Here are some specific write-in response about the struggles that bloggers have in generating ideas for new content:
■ “I strive to give my readers fresh, unique content that cannot be found anywhere else. Sometimes an idea will percolate for a month or more before I’m ready to write about it.”
■ “There is so much to say and such little time to put it together.”
■ “Sometimes there is nothing new to write.”
■ “Sometimes I get "writer’s blog." I make lists, and put tips on my iPhone to write about later. I’m doing OK, but I wish I had more ideas, more often.”
■ “Perhaps if I knew [the brand’s] editorial direction, that is features during the year, I could be more in sync with the magazine on certain issues.”
What you often find with experts who blog is that their intentions are golden, but that there is a learning curve, and that you need to support that idea and information. For external bloggers, this can mean that no two are alike, as one could be a business owner, another an engineer who works in the field, and another who is a consultant—ALL in the same industry. Some will prefer scheduled phone calls, others just raw data, and some will want full training from technical knowledge, to editorial knowledge, to marketing knowledge.
Overall, the feedback was incredibly insightful to understand how to better serve editorial teams and external contributors who blog. Each have different needs due to the nature of their roles and everyday lives.
Business media editors have many other channels to create great content and reach their target audience. Because of this, blogging needs to have a very specific value and purpose in order to be added into the mix.
For external contributors, one must remember that these people are not trained journalists, and may never before had to push a ‘publish’ button on the web before their blog was created. They need more support to further their understanding of who they are reaching, how they are doing, and how they can improve.
For further reading: Why People Blog and What We Can Learn From It