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SF Blog: Feeding the Beast

My official job title is digital content manager. However, most days it feels like it should be feeder of the beast. The beast being our website, Agriculture.com, and the feed it continuously craves comes in the form of articles, slideshows, and videos.

The beast is always hungry, and no matter how many thoughtful, well-researched pieces of content I feed it, it always wants more. I love the beast most days, and I’m grateful that its insatiable appetite provides a nice sense of job security. But it is still a beast.

If you have a website or blog, you know what I’m talking about. You know what it’s like to feel like you aren’t updating your site enough – to constantly feel like there is more you could be posting, more you could be sharing.

The good news for you is that the beast is not your primary concern. You should – and need to – focus on your farm and your family. Then you can spend some time tending to the beast. “You have to find the right balance between managing the farm, your life, and blogging,” says Katie Pratt, who blogs at theillinoisfarmgirl.com.

For Pratt, this means posting once a week during slower seasons and much less often when things get hectic. “During summer, there is no time to breathe, so I just decide not to beat myself up if I don’t put something up,” she says. 

Virginia Dahms, CEO of Kestrel Website Design who designs websites for farmers, recommends that her clients update their website at least once a month. This can be as simple as posting a few new photos that show what work you are doing on the farm that month. Or you could go one step further and post videos highlighting different field operations, which is what yostfarm.com does. 

If clients only post content once a month, Dahms can do this for them, which makes maintaining the site much easier. “If you aren’t going to update it on a weekly basis, I don’t recommend going through the time and expense of learning how to do it,” she says.

For farmers who want to post updates or to blog more frequently, Dahms installs a content management system (CMS). A CMS allows you to easily post photos, videos, blogs, etc. This is a standard feature on many sites, like those built on WordPress.

Another common option is a social media feed, which is an easy way to trick the beast. “Embedding a Facebook or Twitter feed gives you the illusion of the site being updated without you doing it manually,” says Dahms.

If you start to get frustrated about updating your site, remember this advice from Pratt: “Have a plan for blogging, but keep in mind that the plan has to involve the fact that you farm, and there’s no set plan when you farm. Be kind to yourself and have your standards, but know that there is a plan B and a plan C,” she says.

Well, the beast is growling, so that’s all for now. I’ll have more tips for creating content in the December issue of Successful Farming magazine. If you have questions about websites, blogs, or social media, email me at Jessie.Scott@meredith.com

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