About a month ago, I had the pleasure of speaking to Marcus Sheridan on his commute home about blogging. I had expressed to him in one of his blog posts that I was challenged with tying in my personal life events with content that was relevant to my industry and he offered to chat with me. One of the best hours I ever spent and a giant THANK YOU to Marcus!

Besides my inability to succinctly write about how my personal life can intersect with topics about content, social media and lead generation, he talked about this idea of building a Content Army (some of the ideas you are going to read came out of the conversation). What I realized was that I was over-burdening myself so much with the pressure of coming up with daily topics to write about and then actually doing the writing that I was blocking my own creative juices. Why wasn’t I getting support from other people in my organization? Companies like HubSpot and OpenView Labs require everyone to blog and they have awesome content! So I set out to build my army and I hope this post will give you the foundation to do the same.

1. You must get buy-in from senior executives and your best bet is the CEO

Absolutely #1, most important, you are not going to get far without it; the thumbs up from the CEO and senior executive team. Your company is not going to blog because you asked them nicely or offered a reward (see #5), but they will blog if the CEO tells them its now part of their job. But how do you get their endorsement? You gotta sell it. Devise a plan using the steps below and outline it in a word document, excel or powerpoint (whichever way your CEO likes to digest information). Make sure you define the target audience for your content, your goals, and expectations and how you are going to track and report on success. Setup a meeting and present it to him or her and set the precedent that you need their support to make this happen. Emphasize the difference between continuing as you have been and what the impact would be with an army. Make sure you leave the meeting with a commitment to mandate corporate blogging from the organization and how you are going to support the process or what the next steps would be to gain their support.

2. Set realistic expectations from your contributors

I know you want to start out and say something like ‘everyone contribute one blog per month’ because it seems very realistic and all the power to ya if you can actually get everyone on board with this. But, if you are just starting to get contributions, you need to think big and start small. Fact is, everyone already has a job and blogging is just not part of it. Ask your sales team to blog assuring that it only takes about an hour per post and you have now asked them to not think about their commission for an hour. Consider this approach, if you have 25 people at your organization and you ask each of them to blog 2 times per year. That’s right, just 2 times per year. That would add up to 50 posts per year or at least 1 voice other than your own every week. Pretty good huh?

3. Do the first and last part for them

So you blog everyday, twice a week or once a month, in any case you are blogging, in the throes of it so why not help them out. I think the best way to do this would be to offer to do the first and last part for them. What I mean by this is for the ‘first’ part, give them some ideas for what to write about and give them a template if they need one. Assure them that a blog doesn’t have to be all written word. It could be a video, a podcast or even a picture with a caption. Then, for the ‘last’ part, promise them that you will take a final pass at their post by cleaning up the grammar, adding headlines, jazzing up the title, whatever. This will set them at ease and if they see you helping them, they are more likely to get on board and contribute.

4. Use your network to ask for guest blogging contributions

Your content army doesn’t need to just be made up of people internally, think about people outside of your organization that can contribute. A lot of bloggers will volunteer to guest post if your genre and audience is similar to their own to get more exposure. It’s really a win/win. Consider people that you currently read and follow and send them a note asking for their contribution and tell them why it makes sense to consider it. Share some of your data like the # of subscribers you have, traffic received and what you are going to do to promote the post. Look at the people in your LinkedIn groups who make interesting comments in discussion threads. Send them a note and ask if they would consider writing a blog post about their point of view on a topic.

5. Establish a rewards system

There is nothing like a good competition within any organization so why not have one tied to contributions to the blog? Make sure that it ties back to your goals for the blog. You don’t want to reward someone for getting the most comments if you overall goal is to drive traffic via SEO. At one of the companies I had worked for, I created a formula based on traffic volume to the post, time spent reading the post and the interaction with the writer (comments) and rewarded a $50 American Express gift card to the blogger who received the highest score. Do it monthly or quarterly depending upon the schedule of contributions and make it a big deal by announcing the winner at a company meeting.

At the end of the day, your company has more voices than your own and your audience will appreciate the variety and I am positive you will enjoy the opportunity to flex those creative muscles without worrying too much about where your next piece of content is coming from and what it’s going to be about.

Have you successfully gained participation from other people within your organization to contribute content? How did you go about doing it? And if not, what are you struggling with and how can we help?