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Brainstorm 10 Ways to Expand Your Blog [HOMEWORK]

Posted By Darren Rowse 9th of September 2009 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

In this post I’d like to share a simple exercise that helped me to grow ProBlogger beyond being just a simple blog {image by deserttrumpet}.

How are you planning on expanding your blog?

brainstormYesterday as I was going through some files on an old computer I stumbled upon a brainstorming document that I’d written 4 years ago about this very site – ProBlogger. I wrote it almost exactly 1 year after I started this blog.

In the document I’d set myself the task of brainstorming a variety of ways that I could expand ProBlogger beyond being just a blog. While I knew the idea of a blog helping bloggers to make money from and improve their blogs had potential – I also knew that there was potential to build something more successful and profitable by going beyond just having a blog.

For this task I gave myself permission to dream big and to come up with things that I may never implement.

Here’s some of the possibilities that I’d jotted down:

  • ProBlogger Forum/Community – where readers can interact with each other – possibly a forum
  • Job Boards – a place where bloggers looking for work can find jobs and where advertisers can find bloggers
  • ProBlogger Training/Speaking – develop training modules to do with groups of bloggers
  • ProBlogger TV – a video section of the site
  • ProBlogger Shop – selling merchandise but also tools for bloggers
  • ProBlogger Services – a consulting service for bloggers
  • ProBlogger Ad Network – an ad network for bloggers to join to make money from their blogs
  • ProBlogger Books – self publish a book about how to blog for profit – perhaps a downloadable book.
  • Start Related Blogs – starting blogs on topics related to blogging (SEO, different platforms etc)

There was a lot more in the list (in fact there were about 40 ideas) but these were the first on it. I wrote a paragraph or two on each idea – fleshing it out with extra details.

Of course there’s a variety of things that I’ve done and not done with these ideas:

  • Some became a reality (Job Boards, Writing the ProBlogger book and starting TwiTIp for example)
  • Some I’m still planning on doing (our Community Section will hopefully launch next week)
  • Some I tried and abandoned (for example I tried a shop where I sold T-shirts for a while but it never really worked)
  • Some I evolved into other things (the TV idea evolved into semi regular video posts)
  • Some I plan to do in future (those ones are in my secret file)
  • Some I’ve never done and probably never will try.

Whether I’ve done all of the things that I dreamt of back then doesn’t really matter….

What’s important (to me at least) is that I put some time aside in the very early days of my blog to dream, brainstorm and come up with ideas of how to take my site further than it was.

Your Homework

Today I’d like to invite you to do this type of exercise for yourself.

How might your blog look in 4-5 years time? Create a list of 10 ways that you might one day expand your blog.

OK – I know this seems like a pretty crazy task for some of you because I know for a fact that many ProBlogger readers are just starting out and are still in their launch (or even pre-launch) phase – however I do think that this type of exercise can be helpful even if you don’t do much with the ideas you come up with.

For me this type of brainstorming has not only led to concrete ideas and plans but even just the process of dreaming has inspired me to keep growing my blogs. I also think that having some bigger possibilities in mind can sometimes help you to shape your blog in the here and now.

So open up a document or grab a pen and paper or a whiteboard and start to dream and brainstorm about how you might one day expand your blog.

While I don’t want to limit your brainstorming by giving you too many ideas – you might like to think about some of these:

  • different mediums you might like to add (video, forums etc)
  • other related blogs you could start
  • services that you could offer
  • new categories that you could write about
  • new sections of your site that you could add
  • new features that you could offer readers

If you’d like to share some of what you come up with please feel free to share some of your thoughts in comments below.

In the coming weeks I’m going to share a variety of ways that I see blogs expanding that I hope might give you a little further inspiration on this topic – but in the mean time do the exercise for yourself and see where it might lead you!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. It’s funny I was just looking at my blog this morning and thinking of ways I could expand it beyond just a blog. Then I come here for my daily dose of ProBlogger and this is the latest post – must be fate.

  2. I really need to set a specific time just for this with no distractions. I think that’s important in order to attract some creative ideas. It’s also a great assignment for me and other bloggers too. Thanks.

  3. HI darren

    I do have the habit of having a brainstorming sessions and jotting down post ideas in my diary. I have few short term goals too for my blog. But you mentioned about 4-5 years vision for your blog. !!!!!!
    May be that big goal made you a problogger.

  4. This is a great idea. One brainstorming session can lead to a gem of an idea that reward you many times over.

    I agree with you – go for it and list as many dreams as you can that could possibly take your blog to the next level.

    I am off to start my own list of ideas….

  5. Thanks for helping us do this, here are my ways:

    1) Membership site on website making tips
    2) Create software on website building
    3) Create ebook on website building
    4) Create forum on traffic generation

  6. wow.. i need time to storm my brain.
    Thanks.

    Shajib
    http://www.adskey.blogspot.com/

  7. Thanks for the advice Darren. You can definitely set achievable goals and turn them into something great (problogger is the greatest resource for all bloggers in my opinion).
    I’ve tried this brainstorming idea a year ago when I just launched my blog. Some of my ideas are also live but some of them are still waiting for their day (a weekly video is my biggest dream right now). I hope that in the next few months I will be able to do more with my website.
    By the way, thank you so much for your help in A-list blogging bootcamp. Your webinar was really helpful and great. The whole program was one of the biggest inspirations for my blogging career.

  8. I’m seriously thinking of adding a political section to The Casual Observer one day per week. I would be compiling a panel of writers for this.

  9. I am sure your dedication and proper time management bring you here again.

    Its always nice to see a list in which you have completed good number of works and I think this give you moral boost as well.

    I am also a person who always go with the plan and would love to add my future plan as well.

  10. Just wondering is it worth adding a forum to a blog if it hasn’t got many readers yet?

    Could it overtake the blog itself or look bad because it only has a few threads in it?

  11. This is really a great idea. I have done this in the past in terms of my entire web presence but not really focused towards one particular site. I think I will do this and see what comes out.

  12. For now I am still working on my second niche blog also about education and also building another website http://www.afroschools.info to help folks find universities and colleges in Africa.

    As for my big site where money machine was planted I am working on my first e-book and I have drafted atleast 20 posts. That’s all for now.

  13. 1. I will start a blog about Slovakia.
    2. I will start a blog about sports

  14. I think it’s about time that I pull out my old maps and make a new one. I’ve been adding/dropping segments recently and it would be good to look at the bigger picture.

    Thanks for the homework which I will do but my mind wandered when I saw that the Problogger community might be up next week. YAY!

  15. Very good advice! Not only for blogging, but also for life in general. I always like to jot down my goals and brainstorm.

  16. For me, the next on the line for my blogs are forums !

  17. I haven’t really thought about this too much, but here’s what I just came up with.

    – ask the mechanic (advice)
    – webcomic
    – international translations
    – user submissions
    – video howto’s
    – community gallery

    I know it seems fairly basic and rudimentary, but I think my blog stands to gain more through a few cohesive additions than a big change or massive feature.

  18. Good points and nice reminder.
    There are so many thing that I am planning to do with my blog, but time just seems to run away.
    Want to add some vlogging,
    Some more tutorials,
    Expand my them and niche, write about other categories that fall into blogging and programming.
    Start an ad competition
    Write a few ebooks
    There is just so much.

  19. I just want some more readers and some more income. Really simple stuff that I don’t necessarily need to write down.

  20. Have made some plans already.. Now working out on things to bring them into action.. lets see if they work like yours did..
    but i can now understand that all plans wont turn into reality from your examples and shall feel good even if i get some of them into action.
    Thanks.

  21. Thanks for the idea & homework. I regularly “think” about this type of thing but have never written down my list. I do believe in the law of attraction and know that thoughts & goals that are written down are much more likely to materialize.

    I have a social networking blog and realized that I write about FB more than anything. Just a few days ago I launched an “everything FB” blog with services, an info product, etc… which I had already created. I love having everything FB focused in one place and I think it will make it easier for me to expand this niche blog.

    Thanks for the post!!

  22. How did you write this tomorrow if I’m commenting on it today.

    It says September 9th…

    It’s ironic how I started a website and asked myself how I coudl start a blog lol.

    Now that’s funny!

  23. Quality expanding is the key .. I assume

  24. I have thought about the possibilities before, but I haven’t written them down before so this will be interesting. Here are the first that came to my mind:

    Expand my blog with videos and screencasts. Start doing interviews and recording discussions with fellow bloggers and turning’em into audio or a podcast. Transmute everything or parts of things I do and write about into a service.

  25. Thanks for the advice.

  26. I recently did a brainstorming exercise myself and it resulted in a re-direction with my blog that I’m really excited about. I found it was incredibly effective in removing the blinkers, thinking big and then looking at what I could use now and potentially in the future. It is definitely a worthwhile exercise no matter how old (or young) your blog is.

  27. I actually do this on a pretty regular basis. It’s pretty fun.

    Was there any reason as to why the Tshirts did not work out???? I would think with some thought they could be pretty interesting. I have an idea for a t-shirt for blogging but I have to wait to give it time to marinade and draw it up.

    The killer thing about this type of “business” is that you can easily implement these kinds of ideas and possibilities with litle to no barrier.

    I keep thinking of Seth Godin and the dip. See what sticks! I don’t know if there was a time that you could try so many things and see where it takes you.

    I have multiple blogs and seeing how it all goes and where my attention goes due to more interest.

    I’m hoping to help people start to blog, take action to try and see what happens with their dreams!

  28. @bbrian017 – Because Darren is in Australia, where it’s tomorrow, that’s how. As of this comment it’s been 9/9/09 for 8 hours.

    I’ve got a continuing list of things I wan to expand to. I just did an expansion of a bi-weekly newsletter and to encourage sign ups I made an ebook/report. I think for my niche it’s doing pretty darned good! I have plans for online courses and a member community in the next year.

  29. Hi Darren,

    This is so timely for me. I’m monetizing my blog and have been applying to affiliates.

    I’m thinking about creating a Web site on SiteBuildIt and running my TypePad blog off of it.

    Have you had any experience with SiteBuildIt?

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide at http://boomersurvive-thriveguide.typepad.com

  30. I`m still a beginner at blogging so if I do a brainstorming, I won`t find any thing (^_^)

    thanks
    dreams` box
    http://dreams-box.blogspot.com/

  31. Thank’s for the tips and advices,,im just newbie..i hope ican move to be a problogger soon :)

  32. Love it, Darren.

    I’m always making lists of ways to improve, grow or expand my blog. I don’t see growing and expanding as the same thing–I see growing my blog as increasing my readership and expanding it as doing some of the things you mentioned above. I considered a forum and then realized I’d have to be stoned to do it. LOL. I have three little kids and some days, I’m barely hanging on as it is–a forum would mandate a straight jacket. BUT–I didn’t nix the idea until I researched it, tried it out a bit and got feedback from those who have them.

    I just added coaching to mix and I plan to add a couple of other services, a searchable business directory (listings will cost $49/year) and I’m currently enrolled in Teaching Sells (saw you are too!) and excited about building an ILE for mom entrepreneurs and moms who want to start a business but don’t know where to begin.

    Thanks for an awesome post, Darren–you’re one of my idols. I love hearing about how you translate your brainstorms into actual “stuff”.

    Heather

  33. To Jesse of Driven Daily,

    I think your ideas sound awesome. Especially the “Ask the Mechanic” and video how-to’s.

    I’m a big Rush fan and when I visited your blog, I could hear Red Barchetta in my head. ;)

    Heather

  34. Well, I think that add videos into your blog may help in expandig your blog. I see Yaro always use videos, that is great. But I really have not seen any video in Problogger.net. If I get a web camera, I think that I will create videos, because it is fun and powerful. I hope to see videos adding into Problogger.net :).

  35. Really an amazing tips….I think these are very helpful to me in expanding my blog.Thanks a lot for these tips.Really a nice post.

  36. As a blogger, I do not want to do too many thing besides blogging, which I think there is always room for me to improve. So, in order to expand my blog, I have been always try to add more contents to my blogger.

  37. Thanks for this post as it is very fitting to my case.

    I am just starting blogging and my targeted audience will be people that I am very likely to meet some day, so expanding beyond the blog is a great possibly.

  38. Hey Darren – I am really grateful I found your site. I purchased an existing affiliate marketing training blog and I have been researching ways to make it successful over the long term. I have already gained lots of insight from the information you have provided here.
    I wanted to let you know that I appreciate the time and effort that have obviously been dedicated to this site. Thanks!

  39. I just started my blog and expanding is all I think about. Thanks for the tips.

    PS I really love the book!

  40. Develop, always look for better innovations… move every step of the way.

  41. Darren,

    This is a great advice but little difficult to implement. The reason being, I am a part time blogger and do not get enough time to even write content on a regular basis. One thing, however, that worked for me was to spend whatever time I get in writing content without focusing on anything else such as traffic building, adsense optimization etc. I spend only 2 days in a month to look at my analytics and optimization if any required.

    Another great post, thank you!

  42. Good idea Darren.

    I would suggest a forum on this blog so that bloggers could communicate other bloggers.

  43. The basic idea of my blog is to help people make money online and share there ideas. However i am still in the process of monetizing it and then moving on to something bigger like organizing online events and workshops .

    I think this should be a real ice breaker ! lol

    http://successcurrency.com/blog

    Amit

  44. Hi Darren!
    I really like this topic , as most of the new bloggers like me will definetly find useful from this.
    I am also from one of them who is looking for an good traffic on my blog http://www.clickblogging.blogspot.com. Its really having an
    good stuff to refer and implement these things on my blog.

    I just want to ask one of the simple question, as to start an successfull blog we need an piller/solid content, but most of the bloggers who are not so well and good in english and want to start blog in english then what would be the solution to this problem ?. As most of the new bloggers having same problem. So I expect an answer on this question?

  45. This is a great exercise. I gonna get crackin’ on this assignment.

  46. Another challenge? well, for me, I think I’ll go for related site or niche site hopefully as soon as possible.

  47. WOw.. good idea.. I don’t even have brainstorming session when blogging..

  48. I have never really considered this for any of my blogs. I have always been of the mindset of expanding, by creating new blogs or sites. Good (and cheaper) information to have!

  49. My blogging partner and I are always looking at this very questions… how can we expand our blog and give more resources to our readers. We are currently working on a few things right now which are very exciting and will launch very soon we hope!

  50. I agree with rajendra, i have also the same problem.
    Not good at English.