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Blogosphere Trends and Goal Setting

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

When I sit down to write this weekly column, I have two goals: 1. To tell you what bloggers are writing about most in the past week 2. To provide advice that is useful to the ProBlogger community. The first goal is easy because it’s the same every week. I fire up the super-secret algorithm at Regator and it spits out a list. The second goal is more challenging because it varies. It’s not enough to say I want to provide tips, I need to consider how I want to focus my post and what I want it to achieve.

You’ve probably got goals for your blog as a whole (e.g., reaching a certain number of readers or increasing comments by a certain percentage in the next year) but do you create goals for each post you write? You should. Goals hold you accountable and ensure that your post achieves what you want it to. Darren mentions the importance of setting goals in “Does Your Next Blog Post Matter?” He suggests writing your goal at the top of your draft (you’ll delete it before publishing unless it becomes part of your introduction), which is a good habit to get into. Before you publish, ask yourself whether the post achieves the goal.

I’ll share my goal for this post with you: This post will use Regator’s trends list to list the ten stories bloggers are writing about most this week. It will also provide examples that illustrate the types of goals bloggers might consider using on their own blogs. Let’s get started…

  1. Gulf of Mexico – Your post’s goal might be to motivate readers to take some action. A post such as The Beacon‘s “The Spill: What You Can Do, Part 2″ does this. The author mentions that readers have been asking how they can help with the oil spill. By providing this information, the post also achieves the goal of connecting readers with resources they’re seeking. Your readers’ questions can be a great source of post ideas. If many readers are asking the same thing, write a post with the goal of answering that question.
  2. Elena Kagan – Providing new or unique information about a frequently covered topic is a common goal. Washington Wire‘s “Making the Grade: Kagan’s Transcript” shares information from the U.S. Supreme Court nominee’s academic transcript and, in doing so, fulfills the goal of providing additional information about a hot story.
  3. Cannes Film Festival – Your goal may be as simple as “This post will provide readers with an opportunity to share their opinions about X.” Fashionista‘s “Who Opened Cannes Better, Cate Blanchett’s Alexander McQueen or Salma Hayek’s Gucci Couture?” and The Girls in the Beauty Department‘s “Poll: Did Kate Beckinsale Pull This Super-High Updo Off?” are not high-brow posts about a serious topic, but they do meet the goal of strengthening the community and giving readers a forum in which they can debate.
  4. Betty White – Sometimes your goal is as basic as, “This post will entertain readers.” The author of BestWeekEver‘s “In Honor of Betty White Week: The Golden Girls Credits the Way They Should Have Been” achieved that goal with an interesting fact (that the theme song for The Golden Girls was an actual pop hit) and amusing video (the verse about old age wasn’t included in the theme song so the blogger did some video editing to fix that).
  5. Lena Horne – If it’s appropriate for your blog’s tone, you can create posts with the goal of sharing your personal feelings or memories to pay tribute or support a point. “Memories of Lena Horne: The Calm After Stormy Weather” from The American Spectator and “The Night I Met Lena Horne” from The Root are beautiful examples of this goal being met. These sorts of posts also build community by strengthening the communication between blogger and readers.
  6. David CameronThe First Post‘s “In Pictures: Prime Minister David Cameron – The Story So Far” had a simple goal: “This post will tell the story of David Cameron through strong, well-selected photographs.”
  7. Robin Hood – The post “Robin Hood: 10 Things I Liked, 5 I Didn’t” from FilmSchoolRejects was written with the goal of refuting an earlier review. Policing other publications and gathering information to support or refute their claims can lead to countless post ideas.
  8. Gordon Brown – Your post’s goal may be to give your readers advice about something. Career Hub gets bonus points for finding a way to use a major news story to illustrate their advice in “Gordon Brown’s Downfall: 6 Career Lessons for Us All.”
  9. Lady Gaga –Another oft-used goal is that of of sharing information not yet available to the general public–advice from a conference that not all your readers were able to attend, a recipe you came up with in your own kitchen, or a pre-release issue of a comic book about Lady Gaga (Jezebel‘s “Good Idea, Gruesome Execution: The Lady Gaga Comic Book”).
  10. Times Square – If you’re a regular ProBlogger reader, you’ve seen Darren’s posts explaining why you need the ProBlogger book. Those posts, like Daily Intel‘s “Times Square Vendor Sells T-Shirts About Seeing Something and Saying Something,” have the goal of promoting a product. Promoting your product can be tricky but Darren gets by with it by weaving valuable tips into his promotional posts and Daily Intel’s post is actually less about promotion and more about sharing an interesting bit of news.

Speaking of news and promotion (see what I did there?), I wanted to mention briefly that the all-new, redesigned version of Regator.com is now open to the public. Several ProBlogger readers tried it during our private beta (Darren gave some invites away in the forums) and we appreciated the feedback from that. As I’ve been doing these weekly trends posts, several of you have mentioned that the topics important to bloggers in your particular niche don’t make it on to the overall trends lists you see here. While Regator doesn’t provide weekly trends on the site–those are exclusively for ProBlogger readers–it does give up-to-the-minute real-time trends for the blogosphere as a whole and for individual niches. That means that if you’re blogging about politics or technology or entertainment, you can head over to Regator to see what bloggers in your niche are writing about right now. I hope that’s helpful to those of you who wanted more genre-specific trends.

Do you have goals for individual posts that you write, or just for your blog as a whole? If not, do you think writing a goal statement before starting a post would benefit you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

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Comments

  1. Hi Kimberly, I’d never heard of Regator before your post but I will certainly check it out. Google Alerts can also be a good way to find out what’s hot around your own niche/market. I guess every blogger has a different aim with their blog. From my perspective I am interested in encouraging participation as this provides a strong element of social proof.

  2. I can’t say that I have set goals for each post. Perhaps the correct term for me is expectations.
    Yeah I expect a certain amount of readers, a certain amount of comments.

    I suppose each post I’ve written has purpose in mind. Whether to educate, inform, play on emotions, etc. I suppose I do have that. Is that considered a concrete goal. I don’t know.

    I think it is a good idea to set out the purpose of ones post. Otherwise whats the point. It’s just mindless words on a page.

  3. Regator looks really cool. Sometimes I get behind or at least feel like I’m not looking in the right places to see what bloggers in my niche are talking about. I love that you can check out trends by topic. Very helpful. Thanks!

  4. Markus Allen says:

    Darren… I did a 9-minute video tutorial on how to get .edu sites to link back to any blog… and I featured your site as an example – do you like it?

    Here it is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9wshN4mXts

    If so, can you feature it on your blog?

    - markus

  5. Daily Smash says:

    Already obvious that every post have a purpose and goal

  6. Awesome! Regator sounds like an amazing tool. Can’t wait to check it out!

    And thanks for the thoughts on “goals.” I have been spending a lot of time lately just sitting and thinking about the different directions that I want to take my blogging.

    Great post!

  7. I think that it’s critical to incorporate news items into your current blog posts no matter what you are writing about. This gives your readers an anchor as perspective for where your post is going.

    Whether you are talking about Ronnie James Dio’s death, or the oil spill in the gulf, or even Bettie White, there is always a way that you can turn current news into something relevant for your current blog post.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  8. Yes, I usually have goals for my blog posts, however I don’t usually write them at the top of my draft. I think I will consider doing this as it appears it will help me stay more focused.

  9. Stephen says:

    I have never bothered with setting goals for each post, but in my current mindset for micro optimisation it seems like a good idea.Perhaps I will try it.

  10. Joshua Noerr says:

    I have goals for the blog as a whole, but never really thought about goals for individual posts.

    Which is funny since my blog is about personal development and I am such a proponant of good clear goals. Thanks for that insight!

  11. Brianna says:

    Great post. I often start with a great idea or goal but get distracted and start rambling or going on many tangents. If I write the goal at the top after every paragraph I can ask “did that meet my goal?” If not, delete.

  12. Lou says:

    Thanks. I’m relatively new and still struggle to find the balance between the many requirements of blogging – goals, monetise-ability, SEO-friendliness, etc. It’s also useful to be reminded sometimes to look at things from the reader’s point of view.

  13. Rita says:

    I’m a consumer writer and my readers like my comments about current consumer stories as well as how to articles. Today I wrote about Public Citizen calling for a boycott of BP. Last week, I wrote about Britain’s new PM being a Gen Xer.

    Both of these topics were mentioned in the roundup above.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

  14. thanks for sharing – I have always been a HUGE advocate of goal setting in all areas of one’s life be it personal, professional and even recreational. I like how you broke it down to the ‘post’ level…..

    Think Successfully & Take Action!
    Tracy
    One of Today’s Top Motivated Coaches & Author of Success Atlas Programs
    http://YourSuccessAtLast.com

  15. Megan Zuniga says:

    Goals are more like guidelines. I don’t think you have to write them down formally, but you have to keep them in your head as you go about fulfilling your goals. Like get 1000 hits next blog or something. It’s the basic structure of every new habit, whether or not you were consciously aware. http://sn.im/w6s6t for more info on goals and goal setting.
    PS…I think I’m going to like Regator. Thanks for the tip.

  16. Fred Kapoor says:

    I have to agree with @J. D. Bentley. The same happens to me, I find it more than useful and effective when it comes to looking for target markets and my business niche.
    I also believe this is a very good article, worth reading and worth recommending. It is good to read good content once in a while.

  17. Genevieve says:

    I blog about where I live, Roatan, Honduras. So my goal for each individual post is to key in on what questions are being asked the most. My next posting – BUGS!
    http://roatanvortex.com

    No Regator ‘local’ listings for Central America…wish there was!

  18. Roshan says:

    Hi Darren,
    As far as we’re doing a niche blog aren’t we limited in a circle of topic! So is this really important to check the hot topics (outside our niche) to write blog posts?

    Also, I was wondering why doesn’t ‘LOST’ come into this list?

  19. Fred Kapoor says:

    I agree with @Robert Bravery, as a matter of fact a person handling a blog, especially when it is for business purposes, have a lot of goals to be achieved by having the blog, however that goal will not necessarybe in every post the blogger entries. However, you can have expectations, specific expectations on each piece of content that is added to the blog.

  20. Georgia says:

    I have a goal for most posts I write but am very informal about goal setting. I am sure it would be helpful to do as you suggest and write the goal at the beginning of the post.

  21. Georgia says:

    Learned of Regator by reading this post. I will definitely use it when designing our posts.

  22. Money says:

    Thanks. I’m relatively new and still struggle to find the balance between the many requirements of blogging – goals, monetise-ability, SEO-friendliness, etc. It’s also useful to be reminded sometimes to look at things from the reader’s point of view.
    ————————————————————————————–
    money
    ———————————————————————————-
    Rigo

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