For over a year now I’ve been riding the ups and downs of launching, editing, and writing for a blog. Like so many other projects, Hey Receiver began as an idea that was thrown around one night over beers. Classmates and I were approaching the end of our time at Ryerson and were thinking of ways to fill the experience gap that was awaiting us. We figured a communications blog would be a good way to build some skills and get a foothold in the industry, and we were right. It wasn’t always easy and lots of things didn’t work out the way we planned, but it was damn fun and it allowed me to sharpen my chops and meet lots of people, so I couldn’t have asked for much more.
Here are some key takeaways from my experience:
Look and Feel. Aesthetic is important. Everything you publish says something about your blog, right down to typeface and photo selection, so make sure it says what you want it to say. Also, hold out for a name that’s a good fit; you’ll be using it a lot so make sure it’s memorable and something you can stick with for the long haul. And before launching, always get lots of feedback – things can only improve with outside input.
Timely vs. Evergreen. When blogging, content should either be timely or evergreen. Timeliness is a powerful tool, so take advantage of existing news cycles where possible. Some of our most popular posts are based on breaking news stories. Otherwise, aim for content that will be relevant months and years down the road.
Passion Pays. No surprise that it’s much easier to write about what you’re interested in. The challenge for us was that Hey Receiver was based largely on professional interests, and when you’re working in communications all day, writing about your job when you get home isn’t always the most enticing option. So try to either blog about your interests or incorporate your interests into an industry-specific blog.
Role Players. If you’re tackling a blog as a team, like we were, it can be challenging to divvy up the responsibilities. Having clear roles is crucial to staying on track. Deadlines, too. These things aren’t always fun and can feel like work, but your blog won’t go far without them.
Does size matter? It depends. In our case, the blog was niche and we knew it. Our intent was not to grow a huge audience, but rather to engage a specific audience of fellow communications geeks. For the most part, it worked. That said, it’s always nice to see a steady – if slow – growth, so develop a strategic plan that can connect you with your audience.
To profit or not to profit? Though there were some opportunities to profit from Hey Receiver, we decided early on that the blog would not be used to generate revenue. Of course plans can change, but be sure to think about this issue carefully. Some feel blogs lose credibility when they begin operating like a business; others feel only then do they seem legitimate. There’s no right or wrong approach, but it’s worth thinking through as your blog evolves.
Skills to pay the bills. Lastly, being involved with a blog is a great chance to pick up some new skills. While much of communications is based on soft skills, being able to back up your transferables with technical knowhow is what will set you apart. So jump in, get involved with the design of the blog, and take a crack at editing and publishing posts.
My year with Hey Receiver has been all kinds of rewarding. A big thanks to my fellow Hey Receivers and to our readers for following along.
Photo by MsSaraKelly