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5 Steps for Planning the Direction of Your Blog in 2009

Last week I shared a series of questions for bloggers to ponder as they look back on their last year of blogging.

The point of the questions was not to engage in a navel gazing exercise but to look back with the objective of identifying how a blog has been performing in order to improve it moving forward.

Today I want to suggest a process for thinking about the future of your blog.

I’m not sure that this process appears exactly like this in any strategic thinking books or teaching but it is the process that I use when I periodically look at how my blogs and business is going.

Here’s a quick visual with some questions to explain each step in the process:

goals.png

Hopefully the diagram speaks largely for itself but let me extrapolate slightly on each step.

Step 1 – Define your Mission

This is fairly big picture stuff and for me actually goes wider than just why I blog and more fits with my overall life mission. I guess it’s about looking at your overall purpose and direction – what you want to achieve etc. Having this firm in your mind then enables you to work out how blogging fits into that overall purpose.

Step 2 – Paint a Picture of Your Vision

This is still pretty long term and looks beyond the coming year to where you want to eventually take your blog. It’s a picture of a reasonably distant future. Dare to dream a little and think big in this stage.

Step 3 – Make Goals

Now we’re drilling down into the year ahead. Where do you want to be at the end of 2009? Hopefully it’ll be somewhere towards your ‘Vision’ and have helped you to accomplish some of your ‘mission’ – but what will your blog look like, be doing and have achieved this time next year? Dare to think big but keep in mind that it needs to be achievable. You don’t need to have done everything in your vision in 12 months – these goals are stepping stones to the eventual goals.

Step 4 – Devise a Strategy

What are you going to need to DO to get to your goals? Usually this means some kind of ‘change’ in your approach. Do you need to blog more, start a new blog, change your topic slightly, hire a writer, network with other bloggers more, start using a new method for promoting your blog, follow what others are writing more, build community engagement, redesign your blog etc? Think about strategies across the different activities of blogging that will take you closer to your goals.

Step 5 – Set out an Action Plan

Most people set ‘resolutions’ in their lives (and for their blogs) that are quite ‘general’ and wishy washy in nature. ‘I’m going to lose weight’, or ‘I’m going to find a girlfriend’. While these resolutions are great they are often not achieved simply because while a decision is made to do something – the person making the decision puts no actual plan in place for ‘how’ they’ll do it. The same is true for thinking strategically about your blog. ‘I’m going to get more traffic in 2009′ is a great goal – but what are you doing to specifically focus on DOING to get that traffic. Your action plan should be made up of very concrete tasks that you’ll do in the coming months. I will write 5 posts a week – I will email 7 readers each week – I will leave 1 comment per day on another blog in my niche – I will write a guest post for another blogger each month – I will run a competition on my blog in June.

The above 5 steps are the way I approach planning on my blogs (in fact it is how I do it in other areas of my life also). I actually do this for each of my blogs. The mission generally is much the same for each one and at times there are similarities in other steps.

This process will not be for everyone but I think can make a useful starting point for thinking about your blog in 2009. Some personality types will find it easier than others to think this way – actually for me it is not a natural way of thinking – I’m quite impulsive and this is a real effort to do. You might find some steps in the process more natural and quicker to complete than others but thinking things through from the big picture right down to specific tasks will hopefully help you to not only plan but make the changes you need to make in order to achieve your dreams.

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.

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Comments

  1. Writer Dad says:

    Blogging is both more fun and more difficult than many of us picture before starting. By mapping our goals out in this manner, we are paving a road that will not only get us to the finish line faster, but will make the journey a lot smoother.

  2. The most important point is setting an action plan, where if anyone keeps working and executing randomly or without any preset plant most likely all of the accomplished tasks will be waste of time. Planning will save time and effort and cost as a result.

    Excellent post Darren, Thanks

    Regards,
    Firas

  3. Martin@TF says:

    It all sounds so easy when you put it like that!

  4. Corin says:

    It is a very good thing to organise yourself in blogging but i don’t really do it.Anyway i hope to start planning the long time goals.Excelent post as usual

  5. Dylan Jones says:

    Darren – this is a great post, I’ve been trying to set out some goals for the year ahead and this has added a lot more clarity.

    I often find myself leaping into mini-projects and non-aligned goals, hopefully this will keep me on track.

    Great stuff as ever.

  6. Thanks: Mission Accomplished!

  7. Nice visual outline to go with the post. You’ll never be able to do it, if you can’t figure out what you want to do right? Nice step by step process. I’ve love to see a series of post zeroing in on each of these steps, for some more clarification.

  8. A visual plan of where my blog is destined in 2009 is what I need to have. It definitely helps in the executing of my action plan for developing my blog.

  9. Elliot says:

    A plan is very important, imagine building a house without a plan!, thats how you have to look at it, the toilet would probably end up on the roof!!;), so planning is a good idea, add in a bit of motivation and your golden;))

  10. Mike Nichols says:

    Great visual aid to planning for your blog! Thank you for another meaty post.

    I do something like this for my blog, though I haven’t refreshed it for 2009 yet. I find that my blog is such a big part of my life, that I can’t simply keep it separated off, but must include it in planning for my entire life!

    But planning is essential: If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you expect to get there?

  11. Chris says:

    This is great advice. I’ve kind of daydreamed about where I’d like my blog to be in the future, but I’ve not applied any kind of structure to my goals.

    Look, another ProBlogger post getting starred in my Google Reader. Surprise, surprise. ;)

  12. Ed Bejarana says:

    Great Article Darren,

    The basics behind planning your blogsite are just like planning your business. I would suggest you include a part about bringing your business plan into the evaluation process. Your business plan can help determine your blog “voice”.

    the biggest point of confusion for my customers is finding their business blog “voice”. I refer to the medium as Personality Based Marketing. Tell the world about you in single topic focused, concise, and interesting ways and those who had similar likes will find you. The goal being to improve the quality of the prospects, as well as the quality.

    My point is, more links should not the only goal. More “quality” links should be the target.

    Ed Bejarana

  13. Kyle Reddoch says:

    This is such great information for any blogger to take into consider for the new year.

    Thanks!

  14. Arjun says:

    I am doing blogging from the past few months. To be frank i didn’t have any plan like this. It looks awesome. Needs to try it out. Hope popular bloggers would follow these kind of action plans to reach their goals. Of course that’s the reason those guys called as popular bloggers. Thank you Darren let me follow this and check it out.

  15. Mike says:

    Useful as always. I could do with help on what are realistically achievable objectives as it seems hard to find data to use to benchmark against. I have been through the process you described, but I honestly don’t know if I’m shooting for the moon or being too soft on my objectives. Can you help?

  16. thanks!

    very similar to the approach that i am taking for life beyond my blog in 2009!

    drafted a plan in powerpoint (visual learner) – a yearly and month by month overview of goals based on vision and mission. it’s worked well in the past and it’s fun to edit/evolve with inital plan.

    happy new year!

  17. Thanks for a clear, concise, and structured approach to blogging. I think that there is an inherent tendency for blogging to become random, so these steps are great to assist the blogger to become focused.

  18. A Maui Blog says:

    Like what the previous comment said: USEFUL AS ALWAYS. Thanks!

  19. Genesis says:

    Perfect timing, I was just sitting down to work on my blogging goals when your Tweet came up. :) This is a great resource that will help me stay focused as I work on what I want to do. I like the idea of thinking 3 years ahead, too, as opposed to just planning for one year.

  20. Evo Evo says:

    Great stuff, the ideas also work well with any kind of website, not just blogs! I’m going to put this plan to paper and stick it to my computer desk so I can keep reminding myself of my mission and tasks.

  21. Blog Expert says:

    I think having a strategy is one of the most important things. I do not think your blogging is going to go anywhere unless you have a strategy and an action plan. If you have those two things then the direction of your blog is positive.

  22. Tumblemoose says:

    Pretty simple, really:

    Fail to plan = plan to fail

    George

  23. Jenean says:

    I completely agree with you, Darren. As a Business student I can totally understand your diagram. I believe that those that have given up on making resolutions fall into the trap of not planning correctly to accomplish those resolutions. I pretty much posted something similar – http://justjenean.com/?p=302 – albeit not as eloquently or thoroughly as you have.

    Thanks for sharing!

  24. The part about actually taking action and doing something is imperative. It’s so easy to talk a big game, when when it comes down to it, people generally get a bit overwhelmed with the goals they’ve set forth for themselves.

    As for any goal, it’s always best to take baby steps to get there to avoid getting overwhelmed and giving up.

  25. Kayla says:

    Excellent visual, and very helpful. I need to create a plan of attack for my blog, as I seem to updating it less and less with my life growing busier. I think a plan will make me more motivated to keep posting–and it can seem like fun again opposed to another daily task.

  26. J.D. Meier says:

    I know it’s helped me.

    I created a vision/mission and shared it in my About. I did it for two things: 1) to remind me of the outcomes 2) to let people know why I do what I do and where I’m going.

    I don’t think I nailed it, but it helped get a lot more clarity than what I first had. I see it as a living thing to evolve as i get a new vantage point.

    What surprised me was how often I would do the formality of a vision/mission and objectives at work, yet I hadn’t done it for my blog. I originally thought it was making it too formal … but then I figured, not only is a good test … it can be incredibly effective to setting boundaries for the blog – what’s in, what’s out …. as well as establish values. I think the value are important because like attracts like.

    Getting rid of ambiguity helps make it more sticky for the folks that want what you got.

  27. Smart Boy says:

    Pinpointing goals and developing a clear path is crucial in any business. As I’ve always been taught growing up – identify your big goal, and work your way backwards. Make a plan, follow, conquer.

  28. Rahul says:

    Our main mission for the year 2009, is more quality content for our regular visitors, getting busy for the content, and more getting busy for the content.

  29. I like the write to the readers during the week

  30. Darren, I so appreciate your latest articles on blog planning. Doesn’t occur enough.

    The low barrier entry into blogging gives people the idea that success comes easy.

    Couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Reminds me of the US real estate industry: low entry barrier as well. In good markets it’s flooded with incompetent people.

    You advice teaches people how to go from being incompetent to competent to great. Keep up the work.

  31. Love the way you laid this out Darren! Thanks alot.

  32. Darren, this is perfectly in line with what I advise people and companies to do with their blogging and social media strategies. Thanks for posting it.

    You really have to decide on the WHY first. Everything else becomes much simpler after that.

    The other trick is actually doing the work. :)

  33. Mathieu says:

    That just made my day!

    I like to plan and to write down/draw things. It helps me see it from another perspective or to see it “outside of the box”.

    One picture is work 1,000 words after all. That particular schema of yours is worth gold to me though =)

    Thanks!

  34. Jade Craven says:

    Thanks for this post :)

    It made be feel really confident – I have just about all of those steps planned out.

    i know exactly where I want my blog to be in one month, 6 months all the way to 3 years. I also am aware of my goals for other blogs and how they all interrelate. Its a great feeling and makes me feel really confident with my content.

    Thanks again :)

  35. Luca says:

    i just wrote today about the mission, why we create a blog.
    Nice to see that you have mentioned it as well :D
    ciao
    Luca

  36. Mary Ann says:

    Thanks for this post. While I know you were writing about blogs, this has been very useful, and came at the perfect time, for me as I embark on a new internet project. These are just good guidelines for any project I think. And, the framework is adjustable to make it as detailed as needed. But, your guidance in this document was extremely beneficial to me.

    Thanks so much!
    Cheers,
    Mary Ann

  37. Simona Rich says:

    These are definitely core strategies for focused content. It is good to always re-visit your goals, redefine your vision and correct your strategies.

  38. Flipsem says:

    The idea of setting defined goals is a great idea. Usually people can become more passionate about their quest when they understand the real reason they want it.

    For example, many people want more traffic to their site.

    I want more targeted traffic. Why?
    Because more traffic could mean more revenue. Why is that important?

    Just gaining cash is not a big enough goal. When you have more cash what will it give you?

    Do you want to buy something specific? If so make that amount of money you goal.

    Or do you want something more important? Will more cash give you security, freedom and peace?

    If so how much cash do you need to gain that?

    When you can engage with your goals on a more emotional level then your drive for success is more likely to happen.

    When I have a goal – The question I always ask myself is “what will that give me”. I keep asking that question until I understand the true reason behind that goal.

    Then and only then can I passionatly focus on the steps I need to take to achieve my goal. This process then helps me to understand that I have achived my objective which of course is critical to goal setting.

    Thank you for another great post.

  39. The hardest part if following you action plan after you lay them out. Achieving 50% of your goals in the time frame set is always better then achieving nothing.

  40. Loretta says:

    Great post, however,.. as possible stated already, the mission statement is imperative, i was wondering if you have an example or if some of you are willing to share your mission statement. I can guess that most people are blogging about something they are passionate about, and obviously we all want (and need) traffic, to survive.
    so increased traffic
    Content rich
    affiliates/ads that pay well and work for us, are targeted to our audience…
    This pretty much sums up the overall objectives.. am I right?
    thanx

  41. swag lamps says:

    of course one has to plan his future for blogging, but it’s very difficult to do the plan since there are always many handicap that retard or even stop the planning…the poin is we have to be persistent…

  42. John says:

    Very nice post it makes this look so easy however for a novice like me its still kind of gray and dark matter. I have attempted to make my domain make me even 1 cent profit however over the past months all I have managed to do is cash parking that has provided me with negative 2$ revenue. So its not looking good for the home team. However I am persistant and I believe I will make this work sooner or later.

  43. Graham says:

    You need to step forward in the right direction, mission and vision, and this will create those goals.

    It’s almost like saying what do you love to do in life, then make a (mission and vision) example: Blog or Website about that.

    Love Definition: Writing, Content, Blog, Website

    The other steps i find critical is writing and content, you must know how to write, and you must know how to provide content, the readers and the search engines are looking for people that stand out in the crowd.

  44. NeoTechie says:

    Great tips.

    The old saying is absolutely true that if you fail to plan then you are planning to fail. Having a plan and following through will lead to successful blogging. Also, putting things down on paper helps to getting them done.

  45. verry good post. because im beginer thanks

  46. JohnH says:

    The reality is that if you want to make things work like a business, you have to plan and have structure like a business. This post makes a Lot of sense. I have tended to always avoid blogs as I just saw them as mindless ramblings of the masses – but I am learning more and more of their incredible scope and application in so many ways. Thanks! Great information.

  47. Blogguebo says:

    Thanks a lot Darren. It seems that you stand just behind me to remind me on this. I really need this great tips for my 2009 blogging resolution. Especially about the action plan stuff. :)

  48. PetZone says:

    Very clear explanation.
    Thanks.

    Anyway, any idea about world financial crisis related with blogging?
    This systematic guidance plan perhaps should be implemented.

    Cheers.

  49. Yes very true that planning is required to achieve success in any feild which is true for blogging also. As content is the king so perhaps more quality content should be on top priority. Then comes promotion, networking, redesigning etc. Your planning will help out most of your readers. Thanks Darren

  50. George says:

    Put a blog is just the beginning, whereas marketing your blog is the ultimate core activity in blogging