Photo: Sebastien Wiertz
People blog for different reasons. Some blog for fun, others to get stuff off their chests - and that's great - but if you blog to help your business or career in some way then it's time to get yourself a blogging strategy. So how do you start?
It's time for a frank admission. We run a blog called Write Track about writing habits but we've failed to post a blog for the past three weeks. We've been busy with the business and um, decorating - and frankly, we've grown a little tired of the treadmill of weekly posting. And if you blog, I bet you know how this feels.
As with creative writing, the ideas for blogs often flow easily. It's getting things down on paper that takes the effort. We know we should be blogging regularly but it can feel like a burden. Then there's family life, work, that fifth season of Game of Thrones - things get in the way. Sometimes it can feel like you're blogging into a void too - is there anybody there? If the answer's 'not very many' then it can be pretty demoralizing.
Enough already! We decided to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and get a strategy for our blog. And if your blog is looking a little unloved we reckon you could really benefit from doing a little strategic thinking.
However, not every blogger needs a plan. If you blog for the love of it and don't care how many reads you receive then don't let us stop you! But, if you blog with a purpose and want your blog to work for you in some way then a plan might well help. So, what does having a strategy actually mean?
Examine your motivations
Thinking strategically about your blog means knowing why you are writing it. After all, you're spending all that time at your computer rather than doing something else with your life so you may as well know why you're doing it. Write down somewhere what you hope your blog will achieve - and if you don't know, now's the time to have a think.
For example, are you writing it to help your career or raise your profile in some way? Do you want to become recognized and expert in something? Perhaps you want to use your blog to sell a product or boost the profile of your business? Try to be specific as you can here. In what way do you see your blog helping whatever career, life or business goals you have?
Know your audience
Next is to understand who you're writing for. If you want your posts to get read and shared - which I'm assuming you do - then you need to know who you're writing for. In an ideal world, who would you like to read your blog? It might be helpful to visualize your reader and give her - and him - a name. Give your reader an identity. What job would they do? What interests would they have? What frustrates them and what makes them happy?
Once you know who you're writing for then it becomes loads easier to think through the topics that will and won't interest them. Ask yourself, what can you help your reader do because you've been through a similar experience yourself? What are the insights or nuggets of fresh information you can give your reader that that they'll be grateful for?
Be useful at all times
There's one golden rule that anyone who wants to build a blog readership must have seared on their brain - and that's be useful. That doesn't mean writing about topics you think your reader should be interested in (like how amazing your business/book/product is) but rather writing about things they would find genuinely beneficial in some way. Your posts must inform your reader of something, persuade them of something or just delight them in some way.
After all, you'd never keep reading posts that weren't in some way valuable to you; or you wouldn't keep reading that book if it wasn't giving you something - whether it's practical information, intellectual stimulation or just sheer enjoyment. Neither will your reader.
Quite simply having a plan benefits both you and your readership. If you write posts that truly interest people, it's far more likely they'll get read and shared. Getting more reads will most likely boost your motivation to continue, plus you'll stop wasting time writing posts that few people want to read.
So that's the theory - it's now up to us to put it into action. Will having a plan help us keep up our weekly blogging habit? I guess we'll see. In the meantime, we might get our blogging mojo back!
Don't quit - plan! Five top tips to getting a blogging strategy
- Why you're writing a blog? Ask yourself where you want your blog to take you or of your business.
- Who are you writing for? It might help to visualize who your ideal reader is - give them an identity and a name.
- What interests them? Ask what challenges or problems you can help them solve or what fresh insights you can give them.
- Is it useful? Every post must inform, persuade or delight your reader in some way.
- What's the value? Every post must give your reader something - a new perspective, some new information or a new insight.