Editorial: Create Support Documents to Get Your Blog Off the Ground

Seth ReslerBy: Seth Resler, Jacobs Media

As I’ve discussed before, the way to pull all of your different digital tools together is to use a content marketing strategy. To do this, of course, you’re going to need to implement a system to consistently create online content. When I say “online content,” what I’m talking about is called a blog. But unlike the blog that we write here at Jacobs Media, this is a stream of stories on your website that can be the engine for your content marketing strategy.

As I work with stations across the country to get their blogs up and off the ground, the biggest challenge they run into is usually not technical; it’s human. Let’s face it, many on-air talent didn’t get into the broadcasting business because they wanted to write. Often, we’re asking them to learn a new skill set.

Blogging is not a one-shot deal. It’s something that you have to work at week in and week out. You must develop new habits. This requires patience and discipline. Too often, we show our on-air talent how to write a blog post once and then expect them to be experts at it. Inevitably, they grow frustrated and the blog suffers.

One of the ways you can help your staff become better bloggers is to create support documents that show them what they need to do. I recommend two types:

1. Written Instructions

Create a document with clear, step-by-step instructions for creating a blog post. When you write these, make no assumptions about what people already know. You should be able to hand this document to a stranger off the street and they should be able to create a blog post.

Here are some tips:

  • Write in outline form. Number each step individually to make it easy for people to follow. Be sure not to combine two steps into a single number in your outline.
  • Use the exact same words that are on the site. Don’t write “Click the button;” write “Click the ‘Publish’ button.”
  • Include screenshots. A picture speaks a thousand words. Sometimes, it’s best to show people what they need to do. When I create support docs, I use Skitch to take screenshots and annotate them.
  • Be careful about the sequence. Don’t write “Click the ‘Activation’ link at the bottom of the page.” This sentence is out of order. After all, people have to scroll to the bottom of the page before they can click the link. It will be easier for people to follow if you write, “At the bottom of the page, click the ‘Activation’ link.”
  • Make this document easy to find. Upload it to a shared server. Leave a printed copy in the air studio and the jock lounge. Post a note in the air studio and jock lounge telling people where they can find this guide.

Here are some of the instructions I wrote for configuring the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin on the Jacobs Media site:

    1. In the Yoast SEO window:
      1. Main Window (3 Dots):
        1. In the Snippet Editor, enter your focus keyword to see how well optimized your post is.
        2. Enter a post title to appear in search engines; the same title as the blog post should work if you have included keywords.
        3. Enter a post description that will appear in search engine results. Include keywords.
        4. Look at the Content Analysis. Try to fix any issues marked with red or orange dots.
      2. In the left corner of the Yoast SEO window, click the Share icon (3 dots connected by two lines):
        1. On the Facebook tab:
          1. Enter the title of this post that should appear when it is shared on Facebook; usually the blog post title will work.
          2. Enter the Facebook description; usually the same description that you used for search engines will work.
          3. Select a Facebook image.
        2. Click on the Twitter bird to bring you to the Twitter tab:
          1. Enter the Twitter title; usually the blog post title will work.
          2. Enter the Twitter description; usually the same description that you used for search engines will work.
          3. Select a Twitter image.

yoast-plugin-image-jacobsmedia

2. Video Tutorial

Some people are visual learners, so it’s also helpful to create a screenshot video with narration to explain how to create a blog post. There are a number of programs that will enable you to record a video of your computer screen. (I use Telestream’s ScreenFlow or QuickTime.) Use a mic to record yourself as you explain the process.

Once you have created the video, you will need to put it in a place where your staff can find it. If you save it on a shared server, post notes in the air studio and jock lounge so people know where to find it. You can also upload it to YouTube and set the video to ‘Unlisted’ (only people with the link can watch it) or ‘Private’ (you can share it with specific individuals who will need to log into see it; make sure you share it with people using their Gmail addresses, not their company email address, as their YouTube account is likely to use their Google email address).

For example, here is a sample video I created that shows people how to share their podcast episode on social media.

Creating the proper support documentation for your blog can remove a lot of frustration from the process and solve problems before they begin. With these tools, you dramatically increase the chance of your station’s blog becoming successful.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.