What is a blog? Why blog?

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Written by Alysha Schlundt-Bodien, Training and Facility Coordinator at Community Television Network of Ann Arbor

We live in an age where apps, tablets and smart phones are at our finger tips.  It’s hard not to feel sensory overload when looking for ways to grow your nonprofit.  But, one of the best ways to give back to your supporters and the organization is to start a blog.

A blog offers an inside look into a nonprofit organization or business and what it does in the community. For example, the Ann Arbor Farmers Market’s blog highlights weekly goods and healthy recipes in an eye appealing way. And the coolest thing about blogs is that they allow your organization to gain local, regional, national and even global outreach for free! There may be some start up fees like purchasing URL domains.  We’ll talk more about those fees in our upcoming blogs.

A blog is different from a website. Websites offer one way communication to your audience, but many websites host blogs. An example of this is the Ann Arbor District Library’s (AADL) site where the main page is their calendar of events, which allows users to login and post feedback. This makes the AADL site an open two-way communication resource, and a great way for AADL to discover  what their audience is interested in.

Blogs are not newsletters. Unlike newsletters, blogs are fast paced, up-to-date databases that contain full on multimedia content as well as an RSS feed, or  Real Simple Syndication.  RSS feeds allow followers to subscribe to your blog through an RSS reader or aggregate. Each time you post new content, the post is sent right to a follower’s web or desktop reader.  Think of it as an instant email without you ever having to send anything or building a database.  All you have to do, is publish a post!

RSS Icon

The RSS feed icon is orange and has white waves coming out of it (PHOTO). An example of this is the Michigan Municipal League Place Making blog where they highlight statewide events and stories. When visiting their site, you immediately notice the RSS feed icon,  as well as other social media links, in the upper right hand corner of the site.  This feed allows you to stay connected.

A blog can be as simple as photos or as technical as an article with videos.  It all depends on your audience and the blog’s objective.

I’ve read that 2014 is the year of the blog, especially for nonprofits. Would you agree? Feel free to leave me questions and comments, so I know what you’re interested in and what you would like to learn more about. In the next blog, we’ll look at the different types of blogs. See you then. =)

Alysha has been an advocate for PEG Access and free speech since high school, where she got her start at Rougeview Community Television in Rockford, Michigan. She graduated from Central Michigan University (CMU) with a Bachelors of Arts in Integrative Public Relations studying communication, journalism, broadcasting and multimedia. During college, she was a Promotions Coordinator at Mid Michigan Area Cable Consortium (MACTV Network) and a freelance videographer for the Office of Student Life at CMU. She is currently a Training and Facility Coordinator for Community Television Network of Ann Arbor, President of the Michigan Chapter Alliance for Community Media (ACM) and Communications Chair for the Central States Region ACM. She’s also a Raptor Volunteer at Leslie Science & Nature Center, a nonprofit in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she feeds 19 non-releasable birds of prey weekly. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors with friends and family.