How a blog can save your budget

Freemium, instead of Premium

Traditionally, when it comes to executing a campaign online, there’s a process to follow. A simplified version runs something along the lines of: work out your message and call-to-action and then hand it over to ‘experts’ to deliver. And, indeed, this is still very much the best way if you want the best content, the best creative and the most effective means of ‘cut through’.

But what if you’re trying to raise awareness of something worthwhile and exciting, without having the luxury of being bankrolled? It's daunting when the quotes come in and the project costs mount up.

It’s amazing what resources are in web world for people wanting to do things on a shoestring. There are now a variety of ways to get a bespoke digital presence, all requiring little more than effort and enthusiasm.

Blog sites are a case in point. There's no good reason why the explosion of the online social community/blogosphere can’t aid in the delivery of more formally communicated, engaging and branded charity campaign material.

Sign-up to load-up

A lot of blog services are free, and the better ones, that offer a full range of customisable options, only require a nominal hosting fee to support database functionality. All that’s needed from you is an email address and a password.

The great advantage blogs have over more traditional methods of web design and production is that everything is based online. You don’t need any web authoring software or advanced (if any) coding skills. Once you’re in, all you need concentrate on is your content.

They work best when used as journal-based sites, where the unravelling, constantly updated story is the main focus. The reverse chronology helping its audience to keep up. Once more the diary-style entries help people to plan and engage around particular events and calls to action. Blogs engage and grow communities within their comments sections, you’re not going to have ‘Comment is Free’ or ‘Have Your Say’ overnight but blog tools are developed to inspire vibrant discussion around compelling content.

Because everything about blogs is content-focused, publishing and management is taken care of via an online CMS (Content Management System) interface. There’s no need to call tech support when editing a page, approving a comment or adding a new section.

WordPress.org

With this in mind you might assume that the only way to get a unique campaign site is to have one bespoke built for you. Think again. If you want to cover all bases, it’s worth getting the fuller service: WordPress.org, despite being essentially template driven, allows near-complete control of its source php and visual control CSS (cascading style sheets) code.

So ok, in this instance you do have to know how to change some code! But this means you can create a site that has branding tailored specifically to your campaign, not just your content. By being creative with image editing you can insert and control: logos, illustration and photos as part of the template, without the need for a bespoke CMS.

And being such a burgeoning service, you can add a plethora of plugins to improve all sorts of content handling and behaviour. For example, let’s say your campaign involved regularly uploading photos from various events or gatherings. You can install, for free, a range of different gallery plugins that handle various media types (images, video, etc) and present them in a cool, RIA (Rich Internet Application) window, when selected.

Of course, you can keep it super simple and use WordPress.com, but then you're limited to the pre-designed templates on offer, so your site will have a more generic visual feel.

Can I get that to Google?

Ultimately, a blog is coded and structured to be SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) friendly. No campaign is anything without exposure and traffic, so this ensures you're given the best start possible. This is mainly down to the fact that blogs promote the creating of content, and lots of it. Through publishing, tagging and commenting, search engines have loads of ammunition to connect you to potential searchers. The more you write, the more people comment, the more words get sent out there for search engines to find. Just be sure to tag all your articles before publishing.

It goes without saying that this is all greatly helped by your other media channels being milked for all their marketing worth, so alongside your core content on the blog, tweet, Facebook and YouTube about it to your heart’s (and your campaign’s) content.

So, it next time your cursing your campaign fund's ability to indefinitely stretch, look into the blog avenue — it might save you a pretty penny!

Posted on 26th March 2010, by Ronnie, under Campaigning

Tags: blog, budget, campaign, cms, comments, design, freemium, online, web, wordpress