A few months ago, I excitedly accepted an unpaid gig as a contributing blogger for a new company blog. A retail business trying to improve its online presence hoped that a few writers could bring perspective and increase exposure.
From a large applicant pool, the CEO chose a handful of bloggers with diverse backgrounds and the most online writing experience. In exchange, the bloggers were allowed to choose one piece of merchandise, free of charge, and we were able to promote our own work too.
Truly, I felt privileged, and I’m pretty sure I started with the most enthusiasm; I was definitely contributing more than the other bloggers. However, I lost my enthusiasm after a few weeks when I realized that I was wasting my time.
Here are five things you shouldn’t do if you expect unpaid contributors to write content for your company blog.
Don’t lack focus. The CEO encouraged us all to write about the topics that interested us most. I liked this direction in theory because it meant we would all be passionate about our subject matter. However, this company’s merchandise is for a very specific market, and the blog would have been more effective if the content targeted a specific consumer.
Don’t put too many people in charge. I was answering to at least three people. One deemed herself a “technologist” and e-mailed me with a request that I knew was wrong, from a technical standpoint. Another person was the WordPress developer in charge of making sure the content was loading correctly. And the third person was the CEO himself. Because I never actually met these people in person, the multiple contact points confused and overwhelmed me.
Don’t ignore the power of social media. They expected me to promote my posts via my Twitter and Facebook accounts, which I did, but they weren’t doing a great job leveraging their own social media accounts. I didn’t see them engaging with their followers, friends, and fans. And I was discouraged by the pathetic readership.
Don’t hire a programmer who doesn’t know how to use your blogging platform/CMS. The programmer was constantly asking me to adjust settings within my personal WordPress account when I knew for a fact that he could have been doing more with their backend. I noticed a lot of bugs, and I reported them, simply because I wanted the blog to look great! All my requests were ignored.
Don’t expect a group of people who work virtually to stay motivated as a team. I’m sure that all the other bloggers shared my motivation at the beginning. However, when you work virtually and never see your colleagues, it’s really hard to stay excited. The energy that radiates in a real-life team setting is contagious; it’s nearly impossible to approximate this energy online.
(Photo by miss karen)