My lessons learned: What to expect from a good CSR / Sustainability blog

I have been running this blog since early 2008 now. It started as a collection of personal thoughts and events but ever since I started to write a little more about CSR / Sustainability I also had to make sure I am listing to my readers enough to get an interesting discussion going.

The topic of this post is to provide you with some of the these lessons I learned over the past years when it comes to my blog design, the content and what my readers are looking for:

  • Post on a regular basis: At least once a week but not each day. There is a fine balance in my view. And when it comes to CSR / Sustainability a lower frequency of posts each week gives you as the writer the possibility to focus on a topic or theme and not have to worry about swamping your readers inbox or RSS feed.
  • Keep your blog design simple and accessible: I am not someone that is very inclined to read a blog post that is looking to ‘busy’ and is over -designed. In my view the content needs to be the focus. My blog is simple in terms of design and my experience over the past years has shown that this is the best way forward when you write about CSR / Sustainability.
  • Try to write about something you know more than others about: Sounds obvious but you will not believe how many people are writing about something they do not really know much about. And these are not blogs that will attract lots of readers and create an interesting discussion in my view.
  • Write about best practice: CSR / Sustainability reporting for example is always an interesting topic to write about. Reporting is not on the top of my agenda but a post every now and then is always received well. Other popular best practice topics include social media, CSR / Sustainability strategy and stakeholder engagement. Try to mix these up a little over the course of the month as well. A good variety always makes interesting reading.
  • Try to be challenging: I am not the fiercest and challenging CSR / Sustainability blogger around but I found that challenging the overall CSR / Sustainability best practice on occassion is an interesting topic for posts. You need to find a balance here as well of course but I believe that being critical and constructive at the same time is usually a good combination.

These are some of the lessons learned for me. What are yours?

No Comments

  1. Good points, well made.

    Re the last one, I tend to find that my posts of most interest to others are when I go against the grain of opinion. For example, many people think the waste hierarchy is carved in stone, when it is simply a rule of thumb and has limits. Pointing out those limits is provocative and educational. The flipside is to avoid being controversial for the sake of being controversial.

    My personal challenge is to remember that most readers are not regulars, so I can't assume they have been following my trains of thought over the years.

    1. Thanks for the comment Gareth. As always very insightful. I agree with your points. Especially on the aspect of controversy. Just being controversial is not really useful.

  2. I've gained some useful knowledge from the FabianPattberg.com blog, so if that's any test of success, you're doing many things right

    I agree about frequency. How do you get this right? Am I right to assume that you have an editorial schedule that you plan and adhere to rather than writing a post when you're in the mood? If so, how do you set your editorial schedule? Print newspapers publish ever day, online news is permanent, at GreenWise we publish every day but the bulk is wednesday in time for the weekly newsletter every Thursday. Magazines are monthly etc.. I wonder if there is an advantage be being regular as well as frequent?

    What about length of posts? Are your posts guided by this at all? I just wonder what the learnings are in this areas and whether Google Analytics helps? Have you varied the length and tested the stickiness?

    I notice that a lot of content is text. Have you experimented with Video? I know Gareth has and quite successfully too. Do you think video is sometimes more engaging than text and that its useful/entertaining to vary the medium when blogging 8-12 times a month?

    1. Hi Stephen. Thanks for the comments. Here are my answers to your questions:
      Frequency: I believe this is really up to your circumstances. If you have the time to write every other day I would go for it. A minimum of once a week is always required to keep your readers happy in my view.
      Planning: I am not one that plans what to write when. I stopped doing this a year ago with this blog as I found it much more liberating to blog whenever I wanted to.
      Length of posts: I always try to keep it short an direct. Makes more attractive reading in my view. This is also the learning of looking at the Analytics side of the posts.
      Video: I have started some video posts but so far I feel that text posts provide the reader more. But I am experimenting all the time so this might change. 🙂

  3. I'm new to blogging so I found this post really useful – I'm right in that zone of establishing my voice, testing the frequency of posts and updates and what content is appealing to readers given there are a few areas of interest I want to explore.

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