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Feeling Lost? Let a Blogging Roadmap Lead You to Success

This guest post is by John Davenport of Phogropathy.com.

It’s been said countless times in the blogging world that in order to be successful we need a plan. But how do we create this plan in a way that will help us reach our goals?

Do we scratch it onto a piece of loose paper?

Do we grab a crayon and write it on a napkin?

Do we create a text doc on a PC and save it in some folder filled with hundreds files?

No. We create a roadmap.

When I first started blogging I had one goal in mind: to grow my audience. I was a nobody (and still I pretty much am a nobody) in this busy world of blogging, but I want to be a somebody, someday. So I created a roadmap to get there. You should too!

Recognizing the problem most new bloggers face

What’s the problem we all face when we start out blogging?

Too many great ideas at once.

We’ve all been there, right? That first idea pops into your head, and then another, and then, oh my, you’re already thinking of redesigning the layout of our blog, but you also have that ebook you want to start, and you’re supposed to have a newsletter out at the end of the month! Your to-do list keeps growing and growing and there’s no end in sight.

Every new blogger who does any amount of research on how to gain blogging knowledge has certainly found themselves here at ProBlogger; the problem is that it’s too good a resource!

Every day there’s a new post telling us to do something with our blog. Maybe what to do if your niche blog fails to make money, or that you should have built a newsletter opt-in box before you published your first post.

Regardless of what we’re learning, these posts always will generate new ideas for us to apply in our own blogs—I mean, that’s what they’re there for, right?

When it comes to planning your blog’s future, we need to put all this information in an organized spreadsheet that we can glance at. This way, we’ll and know exactly what we need to get done in January and what will be done by October.

Creating a roadmap

Organization is probably the most vital skill in the blogging world. You might not have to have all your papers in line and all your photographs in perfectly named folders, but your plans should be organized.

This is precisely where a blogging roadmap will come in handy. You might ask, “John why do I need a roadmap? Won’t a simple to-do list do the same thing?” Here’s my answer.

A roadmap gives you:

  1. an organized layout
  2. a clear-cut timetable
  3. accountability (optional).

Let’s break this down a bit further shall we?

A list is a great way to start your roadmap, but ultimately you’ll want a plan that’s visual. When we have multiple projects spread across many months, if not years, a simple list can become an overwhelming thing to look at. At that scale, it’s definitely not informative.

So, sure, a list can be a great starting point, but at some point it’s necessary to break that list into chunks—I broke mine up by yearly quarters—that reflect the things we want to accomplish in a given timetable. To give you an idea, here’s a screen shot of my 2011 – 2013 roadmap for Phogropathy.com.

What you want to make sure you do when you create your roadmap is to spread things out. You don’t want to have a roadmap that ends next month: you’re building your blog for the future. So let’s make sure we plan things accordingly.

Once your to-do list is in roadmap form, you’ll have a few years of targets planned. Now you’ll be able to visually see how all your blogging efforts fit together and ultimately, that will help lead you to successful growth.

How? The clear-cut timetable gives you the ability to predict when you need to buckle down and get your work done on a specific project. For example, if you want an ebook ready to be published by Q3 of this year, you’d better start the final draft by the end of Q2, and the pre-marketing campaign sometime in early Q3.

I made accountability an optional advantage in the list at the start of this discussion, and that’s mainly because some people like to be more secretive about their overall plans. But if you do choose to publish your roadmap, your readers will know exactly what you’re planning and when these things will take place. This means that you’ll be more likely to meet your deadlines, so that you keep your readers happy. But regardless of whether you share the information or not, with a roadmap, you’re always accountable to yourself.

Planning ahead is key when you’re the only one driving your blog. You don’t want to get lost and you certainly don’t want to drive off a cliff. So make sure you create a blogging roadmap, and never leave home without it.

Do you already work off a blogging roadmap? What’s your major goal for 2012?

John Davenport is an avid amateur photographer and blogger. He shares daily photographs on his blog Phogropathy.com. You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Kari Scare says:

    I’m a planner and very organized by nature. I have the next two months mapped out pretty clearly. I have topic ideas mapped out for the rest of the year (sort of). For some reason, I am struggling a bit with planning out my blogging. This is frustrating since I am usually very organized. Not sure what’s causing the roadblock. So, to answer your questions, I do sort of work off a blogging roadmap, but that process is a work in process. My major goal for 2012 is to generate a significant following on my blog. I’m just not sure how to define significant at this point.

    • John says:

      Kari all you need is that inkling of a plan and the motivation to put it into motion. It sounds like you’re almost there by the way this comment was worded so I hope a roadmap is your key to success :)

      • You know what, setting personal time tables and deadlines to accomplish things makes a lot of sense in terms of productivity.

        We work so much more effectively when we know we have to do something by a deadline. Otherwise we naturally fall into procrastination mode.

  2. John,
    I really like this blog post! The idea of a roadmap for your blog is very useful. It is very easy to plan things out at work and in your home life, but forget it when it comes to blogging. If you blog steady and produce good content from your roadmap, it will keep you in line with what your readers want and your objectives.
    Thanks for sharing this information!
    Brandon Jones

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comment Brandon! I fully agree with you that, especially for those of us who blog on the side, work and life take the bulk of our planning and our blogging can certainly suffer. Taking a few minutes to seriously plan your blog can have a huge impact on the future of it! :)

  3. Brad says:

    Very important points, whether starting out or if a person has been at it for awhile. We may think we have it all planned out in our mind, but putting it on paper really gives us the ability to see ‘the big picture’ of our current and future objectives. It’s a good way to create a strategy rather than jumping around with no ‘plan’ in mind.

    • John says:

      Exactly the point of the article. Anyone really can benefit from getting their ideas on paper in a simple and organized fashion. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Peter Hughes says:

    Just about the most constructive and motivational post I have read. My intended blog has been dormant for ever for the lack of this kind of help, and for exactly the reasons given. So, thanks.

    • John says:

      I’m so glad that I could have come up with something so motivating for you – I hope I’ve given you a kick in the right direction :)

  5. Kelly says:

    This post couldn’t have been better timed for me. Having just upgraded my website, it is just what I needed, so thank you. For someone who still works full time and manages a growing website, it’s becoming increasingly important to be very organised and to harness the flood of ideas. I’m going to create a visual road map today in my lunch hour!

    • John says:

      Glad to hear that your site is growing and good luck creating your roadmap to the future! Thanks for leaving a comment!

  6. Valter Sousa says:

    Hello, John. My blog talks about making money on the Internet and marketing. Until today I could not do a roadmap. I have plans to build part of email marketing blog and talk more about Inbound Marketing. But what is it that makes money with blogs?

    • John says:

      Valter I unfortunately have yet to master the art of making money with blogs, but I can safely assume that being organized and having a plan for the future is a key element. Thanks for the comment

  7. I am a very organized person and I always have been. I have the next few blog posts organized for my blog, but I never thought to actually map out what I plan on doing with my blog past these next few posts. This is excellent advice and something I will start on right away!

  8. Most bloggers who start out initially, expect a “very quick” rise to fame. While a handful managed to achieve it the rest wonder why….
    It’s important to have goals.. long term and short term. It’s equally important to have an action plan to achieve those goals.

    I am not a full time blogger. So the time I spend on blogging activities.. I try as much as possible to plan and not to get distracted.

    regards
    Shamelle

  9. Bryan Ring says:

    Absolutely spot on. I was overwhelmed with information when I first discovered blogs and forums. Eventually I figured out if I were to have any sanity building websites, interacting on blogs, social outlets and run a landscape company, something needed to be done.
    By bookmarking relevant blogs and websites related to my niches, has made this process less complicated. Creating a schedule for all the forums, blogs and my actual labor work has restored my sanity.

  10. Hi John,

    Awesome idea.

    Building a visual road map offers you a vivid reminder of the steps to take to become a successful blogger.
    Thoughts are airy and transient. Try holding a goal in mind. Writing down a road map is great, because lists create order in the mind.

    Building a graphical representation is even better. We think in images, or pictures. Seeing a clear cut image helps you better follow the steps because you can picture the process with greater ease.

    The less we have to work at picturing something the easier it becomes to do that something. We see the image clearly, instantly, and naturally move into inspired, goal-achieving acts to make the picture a vivid reality.

    Thanks for sharing your insight with us John.

    Ryan

    • John says:

      Ryan – This is exactly the reason I created the roadmap – Visualize what needs to get done and get done it will get!

      Thanks for the comment

  11. I started my website late December last year and I’m still figuring out how things should go. And yeah, I had a vague idea of what I want to do this year, but after reading your post I put it all in a timeline, and brainstormed ideas for next year and a year after that. Gotta love a good plan!

  12. I love this idea! I basically used the same technique in growing my professional fashion blog. Thanks for sharing. :)

  13. Laura says:

    Thanks for your advice, John. I usually do a to-do list per month for my blog, but I think I’m going to try a roadmap like the one you showed us.

  14. Planning and mapping is essential. If you do not have a plan and jump about here and there, you will end up in someone’s plan. And guess what the person will have for you in his plan? NOTHING.

    Even though as a new blogger it is good to go about reading materials to help you get a clear understanding of blogging and on how to move your blog to the next level, this must be done in line with your own blogging plan.

  15. Michael says:

    I like that idea of having a roadmap! I haven’t thought of that before but I really think that is a great tip for those of us seeking to get started and commit to growing an audience for our particular brands. It is a great start for being able to get more of what we are seeking to get from the time that we spend on blogging.

  16. Thank you for the helpful post John! I’ve put everything I want to do in a To-Do list, but creating a high level, dated roadmap sounds exactly like what I need to focus on.

  17. Sometimes I feel I spent more time planning and organizing than anything else, but I know if I don’t do it I’ll be all over the place and will be wasting a lot more time.

    Roadmaps are key, I usually do one at the beginning of each year to detail each month, and then each month I revisit it.

    • John says:

      That’s a really good plan Jamie. The sample road map I included in this post goes out three years to give me time to really do everything, but I honestly find myself trying things from 2013 already just because I’ve had the spare time.

      Don’t just make a road map and leave it as something set in stone. It’s meant to be revisited and revised from time to time as well!

  18. Surminga says:

    Great ideas, I do use the same kind of idea by planning out everything months in advance, the next step is sticking to the plan and keeping with it. But hey, planning is an ongoing process.

    Surminga

  19. bennix says:

    I don’t know when I plan much I always ended with only a plan, no output but when I do something that just sparks I do it well… …:)

  20. Okto says:

    This is great idea. Having a road map could be our source to evaluate on what strategy actually works. In the end we will find what goes wrong and try to fix it.

  21. mark hawkins says:

    Many thanks John. Really has given me a good kick in the right direction as to how to gain more exposure for my blog with compelling or at least relevant content and how to plan and manage it effectively.
    Now to re-design my site to fully utilise this…

    thanks again.

  22. Marryann says:

    Thank you for this very informative post. You’re right that at some point every new blogger ends up at Problogger as it is the best informative blogging website out there. You’re also right that all this information tends to be a little overwhelming from time to time, especially when you’re new and not sure where exactly you want your blog to go. A roadmap is a definite help there. I had employed Aman Basanti’s Simple Goal Setting for New Blogs but I believe I am going to employ your roadmap philosophy as well as I can see that the 2 would work well in tandem to create the ultimate goal path for my blog.

  23. Barb D says:

    I love it! BTW, how did you make the roadmap above? What program did you use? I’m sort of new to this…Barb