This guest post is from Adam Gottlieb of The Frugal Entrepreneur.
These days, if you go on a search for the magic formula that will make your blog successful, you’ll find no shortage of advice. Plenty of people are all too happy to tell you how to run your blog. But, while some of this advice may be helpful, you may find that a lot of it simply is not.
Before you start wondering what you are doing wrong, let me tell you a secret. Blogging successfully is not really about how well you write, nor how often; it’s not about sales funnels, nor monetization, nor SEO, not even passion, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Now, don’t get me wrong; these factors are all important. But they by themselves won’t make or break your blog. The truth is that the most successful pro bloggers are all very good at one thing.
They are very clear about the purpose of their sites and direction they want to take them.
Never forget where you’re going
This may seem like such simple common sense, but many bloggers get it wrong. It is oh-so-easy to get caught up in post quotas, Google Analytics reports, Adsense and affiliate earnings, and social media.
The result is bloggers can become so distracted by all the blogging “musts” that it gets harder to sift out those actions that are really contributing to the success of their blogs, rather than detracting from them. They can even forget why they’re blogging in the first place.
And that’s a problem.
If you don’t know where you are going with your blog, then realize that none of those “success factors” I mentioned above will matter. You can always outsource the things you are not good at, or have neither the time nor interest to do. And you can always take it upon yourself to learn about the areas you don’t know, such as how to monetize your blog if you’ve never done it before.
But if you lose sight of why you are blogging, then rest assured your blogging days will be numbered.
Blogging is kind of like setting out on trip. If you have a destination, then there are signs, exits, and turns that will help to get you there. Maybe there are even several different routes. You can try for the fastest route, the scenic route, or maybe you need to pick something up along the way so you’ll take a functional route.
But if you forget where you are trying to go along the way, then for all of your driving, for all of your time and effort and the money you’ve spent on gas, though you may have gone somewhere, it’s not likely the place you wanted to be.
Just as a business needs some kind of mission statement to keep its strategies focused, every successful blog will have an overall purpose or mission. This mission could be public knowledge or it could be something you know privately.
Perhaps you are using your blog as part of your business’s sales funnel; as a revenue generator, earning money from Adsense and other forms of advertisement; as a way to build up your personal brand; or maybe you’re trying to flip the site for profit. Whatever the case, realize that each mission will require a different focus and a different mix of strategies to be successful.
Lose sight of your mission, and you’ll quickly lose the path to your blog’s success.
How to write your blogging mission statement
Now I know the term “mission statement” sounds very formal, but don’t let that scare you away. Creating one is pretty simple. The process may only take you a few minutes, yet it can save you countless hours and money down the road.
This isn’t an official document that you need to broadcast to the online world (though you can if you want to). It is meant, first and foremost, to be a personal statement of intent that is there for your reference.
To start off, you need to take a few minutes and think about why are you blogging. This will involve asking yourself several questions: what is the main purpose of the site? What do you personally hope to get out of it and why? How will you go about actualizing these goals?
Once you’ve done this, try to think of one or two sentences that summarize your answers, and write them down. You shouldn’t use this statement to get into too many specific goals or strategies. The shorter and more focused it is, the more useful it will be to you.
So, for example, the personal mission statement for a guy who is trying to build up and flip a blog might be something like:
“I want to make blogginproz.com an authority, revenue-generating website on blogging tips within one year in order to sell it for $20,000.”
A mother who wants to start a blog about home schooling as a hobby and a source of side income might write:
“On homeschoolers.org, I wish to provide useful information, resources, and tips for those interested in home schooling and use the site to generate a moderate stream of revenue.”
Each statement is specific to the situation. If you were to try to mix them up, the results would be disastrous. If the blog-flipper sets his site up like he’s doing it for a hobby, he probably won’t make much money. If the home schooler spends too much time and energy on optimization and monetization, it may come at the expense of producing quality content, and that is her primary goal for the site.
Yet, this is precisely what happens to so many bloggers and their sites.
Benefits of a blogging mission statement
Any blogger who has been blogging for some time will tell you that there are no constants. There may be times when readership is low and earnings are even lower, or there are lulls in advertiser interest. Sometimes you may have difficulty staying passionate and productive, or you may find yourself being distracted by other events in your life.
What you do in those down times can make or break your blog. Your actions will mean the difference between coming out stronger, or closing up shop.
Having a blogging mission statement will help you to stay clear and focused so that you can make productive moves to get over those bumps along the way, as well as sift through distractions and capitalize on any new opportunities that may come up. You’ll be in a better position to know what questions to ask, what statistics to look at, who you could unite with, and what to learn about.
The bottom line is that every blog needs a mission statement. If you already own a blog and have never really thought about it, stop and figure it out now. Once you have it, write it down, tape it to your computer, or on the wall, send yourself email reminders—whatever you need—but never lose sight of where you are going.
Your mission will help to ensure that all the time, energy, and money you are pouring into your blog will eventually lead to success.
Adam Gottlieb has spent over a decade helping small and home-based businesses improve their image, increase sales and better manage their resources (both the animate and inanimate ones). He currently blogs at The Frugal Entrepreneur, a resource for small and home-based business owners in need of frugal business resources and money-saving business tips.