Bil Browning

Bilerico Nuts & Bolts: The Grassroots Fundraising Journal Interview

Filed By Bil Browning | February 28, 2010 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Site News
Tags: Q&A

A couple of weeks ago, the Grassroots Fundraising Journal asked me to sit down for an interview about the nuts and bolts of owning and managing Bilerico Project. They were gathering information on a myriad of non-profit organizations' IT/communications structure around their blog and I asked if I could publish my Q&A here since it'll only end up in a snippet of the final report.

Every time we have one of our receptions, some of the most common questions are about the behind-the-scenes details of running Bilerico Project. If you want to take a short peek behind the curtain, the interview is after the jump.


1. How often does your organization post blog entries?

Between 7am - 7pm most days. Post go up every half hour, hour, or hour and a half depending on how good the previous post was (and how long we want it to stay at the top of the page). Last week we published 88 posts.

2. How much time does it take your organization per week to maintain the blog?

About 150-250 man hours per week. I work full-time on the site, as does our Managing Editor, Alex Blaze. We also have a team of part-time volunteers who assist.

3. How many people are involved: in writing for the blog? In editing/maintaining the blog?

We have 84 contributors currently and a six person editorial team.

4. What is one thing you've learned about blogging that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?

The writing style. It's different from standard journalism, but too casual can also send the wrong message. You have to find your voice.

5. How do you get people to read and comment on your blog?

I write a lot. I take firm stands and don't use those mealy-mouthed, "I think..." or "In my opinion..." type of qualifiers that says, "You don't have to take this seriously. It's just me." Be bold. Be confident. And work like hell to publicize the site, push certain posts, work with other sites, and network with my peers and the people I report about.

6. How many people read your blog?

Almost half a million people each month

7. How many blog readers makes it worth it for you to keep doing the blog? If you don't measure your blog's success/effectiveness based on the number of readers, what do you base it on?

When I first started, there were maybe a dozen regular readers. I've continued doing this for 5 years, so I guess the answer is "at least a dozen."

8. Who posts to the blog (staff, board, volunteers, interns, program participants)?

All 84 contributors plus we'll run up to one guest post per day.

9. Do you moderate posts? If so, how?

We edit them for typos and grammar mistakes, but that's about it. Since we're not bound to a non-profit organization, we strive to showcase the diversity of the LGBT community - which often means putting up posts that we don't necessarily agree with but has a confident voice and opinion.

10. What is the focus of the blog's content (eg. stories of constituents, political analysis, press release/news items, tips/how-to/resources, etc.)?

LGBT issues - with a large dose of LGBT politics.

11. How has your organization integrated the blog with other things that the organization is doing (eg. program announcements, publicizing paid content/fee-for-service items, web site, print and email newsletters)?

We make it easy to sign up for our mailing list by putting the link at the top of the page - same with RSS feeds. We have a Facebook group and fan page. We have a Twitter account, a YouTube account, and a Flickr account. We try to get our content out to as many people as possible so they'll keep coming back for more.

12. Can you recommend any social justice groups who have great blogs written by a team of volunteer bloggers, whom we should talk with?

I'm not sure who pays bloggers and who doesn't so I don't feel confident answering this question. Blogging is an ego sport; running a group blog successfully is incredibly hard because of it. Readers expect the same voice over and over so it becomes comfortable and soothing to them; group blogs can't offer that without a dominant personality on the site (like me or Alex for Bilerico). Most of the organizational group blogs I've seen are horribly written, badly managed and overly edited to conform to minor organizational details.

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Readers expect the same voice over and over so it becomes comfortable and soothing to them; group blogs can't offer that without a dominant personality on the site

I agree. Actually, and not surprisingly, I agree with everything you said here, but I just wanted to point that out in particular. We're always walking that tightrope between "something for everyone to love" and "something for everyone to hate." Hell, I hate some of our content sometimes too, even the stuff I solicit for guest posts I don't necessarily agree with.

Most other group blogs organize around a specific set of beliefs where everyone agrees, and that works for them. We didn't do that, we organized around an identity instead. It's funny because we're probably a lot more critical of ID politics around here than most other queer blogs, but that just how we roll.