Do you have a Blog Strategy? In this guest postshares some suggestions on how to blog strategically.
I recently started an article series on how to write a blog worth caring about. The first lesson – and the thing too many people skip – is creating a blog strategy. That’s our topic for today.
Gone are the days when launching a blog was enough; the web is too crowded. You’re going to have to work your tail off to be successful – as you know from reading Problogger – so you better have a good reason to be doing something this hard.
In other words, you need a strategy with clear goals.
Thinking tactically – writing a one-off post, promoting yourself, optimizing for search, building links – is all well and good, but won’t matter in the end unless it moves you towards the right goal.
I admit my blog started as an experiment in search engine optimization, so I had no strategy. My plan was to take a site to the #1 result in Google as fast as possible just to see what worked.
I had to sneak past Wikipedia, Boing Boing, TED and 5.3 million others, but I won the #1 spot after 3 months of work and realized, to my horror, that people were actually reading the site. This is when most blogs die, but mine didn’t because I went back to the drawing board and came up with a strategy, a reason to exist.
Here are 6 different strategies for a blog (though there are plenty more). You don’t need to fit yourself into just one bucket (I don’t), but you’ll be more successful the more singular your focus.
1) Spread an idea
There might be one idea you’re passionate about, and you want to reach as many people as possible with that one idea. Maybe you’re into going green, want to get an official elected, or think people need to stop writing making-money-online blogs.
Though ideas are a fine reason to blog, if it’s the only reason, a blog might be the wrong format. If you’re all about the idea, you’re better off spreading it where the people already are – other blogs, magazines, newspapers, and street corners. Building an audience ain’t easy.
It’s hard to talk about ideas in a way that can change people’s minds. By writing a blog about your ideas, you help yourself develop your ideas beyond what could happen in your own head. If you can get readers to give you feedback, you’ll be challenged to defend your ideas.
Blogging makes you smarter.
3) Build a podium
Having any sort of “media channel” – meaning a place where people go to consume ideas – is a powerful asset. A blog gives you the ability to direct attention (of humans and of search engines) to anything that matters to you.
People talk about the power of networking in business – a wide network of peers lets you tap into a variety of skills and opportunities. The golden rule of networking is to not want anything… which means you need to network before you need the network.
Building a podium is the new networking, and you also have to build it before you need it.
Though networking is as powerful as ever, the ability to direct attention to ideas is a whole new layer.
We are in the middle of a gold rush for attention, and though it might feel like you missed the boat when you read Problogger, you should realize that even if 10 people read your blog, you’re ahead of the vast majority of humanity. Since the bubble burst, people have been too bearish on the web. There is massive untapped potential, so build your podium now.
4) Build authority
Your blog doesn’t need to be an income stream to make you money. In Darren’s recent poll, 85% of you said you made less than $1,000 in October (an annualized $12,000). That’d put 85% of you below the U.S. poverty line if you were “pro” bloggers.
I’m convinced that the best use of a blog is to direct attention to the other projects you work on that do make you money. Even if your blog does make money, look at the success Darren has had by cross-promoting TwiTip, Problogger, and Digital Photography School.
TwiTip wouldn’t have 2,500 subscribers today if it weren’t Darren’s web property. You could dismiss this as the power of celebrity, but Darren isn’t exactly the Britney Spears of the web (that would be Kevin Rose). This is niche authority.
But a niche doesn’t have to be subject-based, it can also be location-based or social group-based. Because of my blog, when friends — and friends of friends — have ideas for websites, they talk to me. Strangers use my contact form to ask about consulting. None of that is because I’m a famous blogger; it’s because I’m the only person they know that has an authority blog.
5) A resume
Until the recent sharpest downturn in the economy, I was getting unsolicited job offers multiple times a week because of my blog and social networks like LinkedIn.
Getting the job of your dreams requires being a qualified and compelling candidate. Most people spend all their time worrying about the qualified part without working on the compelling part. Who cares if you graduated summa cum laude if no one actually bothers to read your resume.
Writing a blog on your subject of choice helps to qualify you, but more importantly, it makes you a compelling candidate that stands out from the crowd.
6) A legacy
Follow the advice of Merlin Mann and Gary Vaynerchuk: act as if you’re writing to one person you respect, and think about the message you’re sending to your future grandchildren (who will see everything you leave on the web).
Just because your blog is built around another strategy doesn’t mean you can ignore your legacy. Don’t do anything you aren’t going to be proud of.
Sometimes that means skipping opportunities that look like short cuts. There are no short cuts to greatness.
Everything else you do must come from your strategy. Without a strategy, you won’t have focused content, a powerful layout, metrics to track, or any idea of when you’re succeeding and when you’re failing.
The point of defining your blog’s strategy is so you’re not shooting blind.
Your blog’s strategy informs what you should be doing (and what you should not be doing). Without strategy, you’re just creating another blog that will die off when you lose your passion next month.
If you don’t come up with a reason to care about your blog, no one else will.
Josh Klein advises Fortune 500 companies on theirand writes a blog about making websites that matter to human beings.