Everyone tells you to start an association blog. Only do it if a blog will help you meet association goals. Here’s why people love blogs: they’re an effective platform for providing original and curated content to your members and other audiences, establishing status as a thought leader and online industry hub, and ensuring Google’s love.

Unfortunately many association blogs miss those opportunities. Instead they send out “it’s all about me” messages. They might as well be a column of press releases, and some actually are. Blog fail.

Creating content is challenging, but here’s one way to lighten the load: establish regular departments or features on your blog. When you have a specific slot to fill every week or two, you will develop the habits and resources to do it. You see things you may not have noticed before.

It’s true. When I decided to write about this topic, I had five ideas. Then more and more examples dropped into my field of vision. My one post has turned into two, maybe three, we’ll see. The same will happen to you.

1.   Weekly best reads

My favorite feature is a curated selection of posts, articles, videos, infographics or podcasts that would interest your members. One of the most valuable services you can provide members is to help them filter the good content from all the noise. You’ll make it easier for them to learn and stay competitive.

ASAE’s Acronym blog does a great job curating with their Quick Clicks posts (and, by the way, they recently wrote about the value of curation for associations).

“But why would we send members away from our website?” I’ll tell you why. You’re thinking about your members’ best interests. You’re not the only content source out there. Do you want to be a resource or a relic? (Sometimes I have to be cruel to be kind.)

2.   Ask the expert

What type of professional advice do your members need to improve their knowledge or stay competitive? Not everyone has access to in-house counsel, for example. In the association industry, we often have questions about insurance or HR issues. Find out the types of issues that concern your members and identify an expert who can post monthly on that topic. They can field the questions or simply write from their experience.

What’s in it for them? Exposure, and if that’s not enough, throw in a free membership or conference registration – something of value to them.

The National Restaurant Association’s blog features an “Ask the Nutritionist” column.

3.   Dear Snarky

Unlike the Ask the Expert post, a Dear Abby feature is a fun and snarky advice post. You anonymously tackle the issues no one wants to talk about publicly, except at happy hour with their office pals. These are the scenarios that people in your industry or profession will understand.

Questions could be sent in by readers or made up based on the issues you see in the field. One grounded and witty soul could assume a pen name and answer all the questions. Or, a group of staff can get together over a few beers and spread out the (ir)responsibility. To make it really work, you have to give good solid advice, but with a sense of humor.

I haven’t found an association blog with the level of snark I desire. If you know of one, please let me know.

4.   Photo Friday

Photo Friday is a lifesaver when you’re stuck for content. Even better, it’s a great way to get your community involved. Who knows, maybe some of your readers will use this opportunity to nurture their inner creativity. You could have monthly themes, which might make it easier for folks to focus and actually take a photo to share. You could make the theme universal and humorous: oddest thing on a colleague’s desk, best holiday decorations, or best trade show swag. Or you could ask for industry-specific photos.

The American Anthropological Association’s Photo Friday features the winners of their annual photo contest.

Stay tuned for more ideas next week.

Deirdre Reid, CAE is a freelance writer who is on the hunt for good association blogs. Proud of yours? Give me a holler.