As GateHouse News & Interactive rolls out a new blog landing page for all sites, GateHouse News Service editor Lisa Glowinski shares some tips on what went into recruiting the four dozen national bloggers in the network, and how to use these techniques to find good community bloggers:
Start with the topics you want a blog about
Instead of looking for people to write at the outside, I made a list of the 20 or so topics I thought would interest readers and bring them to a blog page. Then I searched Google for blogs on that topic, checked out Blogs of Note at Blogspot and the Freshly Pressed page at Wordpress -- anywhere I could find that compiled popular blogs.
Recruit anyone who wants to write for you
I often get email from writers seeking freelance work, or pitching a column, so instead of telling them "no," I asked if they had a blog or would like to write for our blog network. Some didn't, but some did, and I vetted those who did like I would any other writer. Were they readable? How clean was their copy? Were they interesting? Did they understand that blogs need to be updated a few times a week? If they met my requirements, I recruited them for the blog network.
You can do this, too -- consider people who send you regular press releases, or who tip you off to a story about an interesting person or group in your community. Is there a blog idea there? People who have information about the community already -- and who write well, are trustworthy, etc. -- could make perfect bloggers.
Send out emails -- many, many emails
After I had found people already writing blogs, next came the job of actually persuading them to be part of our network. Since they were blogging anyway (i.e., they didn't have to do new or extra work) and it's a very cool thing to get distributed on a site that gets more traffic than their blog does, it wasn't a very hard sell. But, some bloggers are skeptical of collaborating with someone, or they want to eventually sell ads on their blogs -- I heard "no" a lot.
There's still work to be done after the blog is set up
Just as is the case with any new writer, there's a lot of follow-up that goes into maintaining a blog. I've found that good writers enjoy feedback -- they want tips on making their blog successful, too. If you can't pay community bloggers, reward them with time and tips for improving their posts, such as adding links, using SEO-friendly keywords and ideas for future posts.
And, always be on the lookout for more bloggers. So, with that said ... if you have a community blogger who could work on the national blog network, contact me!