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31 Days to Building a Better Blog – Day 2

Here are the latest tips that readers of ProBlogger have written in the last 24 hours as a contribution to the wider community’s learning on the topic of Blogging. It’s part of our 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project. I hope you enjoy:

  • Syntagma wrote a post titled Blog Tips for August that tells the story of a new blog they are setting up.
  • Marlene suggested we take a look at an article over at Inc.com on The Top 10 Things You Should Know Before You Blog – an article written with some solid advice on blogging.
  • Markus has written a post titled Blog to Learn (it has an english version below the original) that gives some worthwhile experiences from his blogging experience on blogging about German Soccer.
  • Andy has submitted a report on keyword reseach (which I’m yet to read)

As I’ve said before – feel free to write your own Blog tips – just let me know via comments about your own post and I’ll link up to them for the duration of August.

Strategic Blogging – Issues, Present Position and Future Direction

This post belongs to the Strategic Blogging Series.

Issues

If we want to design a strategy to help us reach our goals we need to identify the areas in which we need to work. At this point in the strategic plan we take time to break down the task of blogging into activities or issues that we face.

What are your main activities?

The answer to this question will vary from blogger to blogger depending upon their focus and current approach to blogging – but they will probably include some of the following:

  • finding content
  • writing content
  • blog design
  • marketing and publicity
  • administration (monitoring comments, processing cheques, book keeping)
  • finding and managing advertisers
  • managing other authors
  • search engine optimization

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Strategic Blogging – Vision and Goals

This post belongs to the Strategic Blogging Series.

Vision

Having answered questions about why we blog (mission) and setting some boundaries for our behavior in doing so (Values) it’s now time to be a little more concrete in our big picture thinking. Where are you headed with your blogging? More specifically:

What is your objective for your blogging in the next three years?

Now three years might seem a long way away (and perhaps one or two years might be a better time frame to set objectives for in the ever changing field of blogging) but look beyond the near future and ask yourself questions about vision.

We’re now narrowing down the mission that we have into some more measurable and specific things to aim for in the long term. Don’t get too specific (we’ll get there) but make it concrete.

For example – your mission might be to make a living from blogging but your vision for three years time might be to be a full time blogger that need not do any other work.

Make your objective/s (don’t come up with too many) big enough to be inspiring but realistic enough to be achievable. They should probably come out of or at least relate to your mission.

Take some time to plot some longer term objectives for your blogging.

Goals

For each objective that you’ve mentioned you now should be breaking things down into smaller achievable goals. Perhaps this strategic plan is a little pedantic here and adds too many steps (hence I’ve added Vision and Goals together) but the basics of what we’re doing with goal setting is breaking down the big picture into smaller achievable parts.

In setting goals you might like to ask:

How will we know we have achieved our objective (vision)?

For each objective there will probably be multiple goals that signal it has been reached. For example if the vision is to be working full time in blogging in 3 years the goals might be to ‘quit from current job’ (once a certain earning level from blogging is reached), be earning $XXXX per month regularly by a certain time.

In a sense we’re breaking down our objectives into bite sized parts that can be ticked off one at a time as they are reached as stepping stones to a larger vision.

Read the rest of the Strategic Blogging Series.

Strategic Blogging – Values

This post belongs to the Strategic Blogging Series.

Having thought about our mission (or why we blog) it’s time now to turn our attention to the values that we have that help to shape how we’ll achieve our overall mission.

There are many means to an end and many ways of achieving a mission. For instance if your mission is to make a living from blogging you could do so in many different ways ranging from blogs that rip off the content of others, to blogs that are purely original in content, to blogs that explore topics of purely a ‘family nature’ to blogs that are quite explicit and ‘adult’ in their nature etc.

These decisions come out of our values as a blogger.

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Strategic Blogging – Mission

This post belongs to the Strategic Blogging Series.

13 years ago when I started studying my Marketing degree the focus of many of my first year lectures was ‘Mission Statements’. I remember writing mission statement after statement – to the point where I started to dream about them. It was obvious that my lecturers through they were a pretty important starting place for any good business venture.

Whilst perhaps ‘mission statements’ are not quite as much of a buzz phrase as they were in the early 1990s I still see asking questions around mission as a worthwhile task – especially when it comes to blogging.

‘Why do you exist?’

This is the key question that my friend’s strategic process asks in the area of ‘mission’. I don’t think it’s asking us to ponder the meaning of life – it’s not quite that deep – but it does ask a business (blog) owner to try to get back to the basics of what they are on about.

‘Why do you blog?’

Take a few minutes (or better still a few hours or even days) to ponder this question. What is it that you blog for? What are your core motivations? Be honest as you answer this question because it’s important to nail it down as much as you can as everything else comes from this.

Some blogging ‘missions’ might include:

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Strategic Blogging

NB: this is the first in a series of posts on Strategic Blogging. The following posts in the series are – MissionValuesVision and GoalsIssues, Present Reality and Future DirectionStrategyAction Plan

Over the past year I’ve been meeting with a business coach who has been helping me to look at my blogging as a business rather than just a job. One of the things that has become evident to me is that good sustainable businesses don’t usually just happen by accident.

Instead they take planning, strategy and intentionality.

So as part of our 31 days to building a better blog series I thought it would be wise to start by talking about some big picture issues. Whilst these first few posts may not be as practical as some that will follow in the coming weeks – I believe that thinking through the issues that they contain could be the difference between a good and a great blog.

I know that for some this type of talk will be frustrating – words like mission, vision, values and strategy are not where you’re at – but humor me please. You see I believe that if you get these things right you’ll find many of the other tips that I share later in this series to be much more powerful as you’ll be able to use them in much more focused and effective ways.

Over the next few posts I’m going to lead you through a strategic plan process that a friend of mine gave me to think through another (non blogging) project that I’m working on – I think it’s highly relevant for ProBlogging and hope you find it helpful.

In each post I’m going to give us a little homework, a few questions to ask that hopefully will help you to think through the issues at hand. Feel free to answer them in private or to even think out loud in comments after each post.

As I post each post in this mini series within the larger 31 days to a better blog I’ll post links to them here as a central place to see the whole process.

I hope you enjoy.

The posts in this series are:

How To Be A Blogging Idol Instead Of An Idle Blogger

Todd Mintz writes a very worthwhile article at How To Be A Blogging Idol Instead Of An Idle Blogger which I think is a must read for bloggers wanting to start out in ProBlogging.

Whilst I don’t completely agree with everything Todd writes (I’ve never entered into a link exchange program or never bought a text ad for that matter) the article is brimming with useful information that Todd learnt in experimenting with blogs on the topic of American Idol contestants last season of the show. In particular he has had some success with the Bo Bice Blog.

Among Todd’s more useful tips are:

Have a narrow focus: The quickest way to drive traffic to your blog is through excellent search engine rankings. If you blog about lots of unrelated topics, you won’t rank well for any of your key terms….

Press Releases: Online press releases are an excellent way to generate notice for your blog. I created a press release announcing the launch of the blog, and once I decided to “actively” blog Bo, I wrote a release each week recapping the show and featuring highlights from the blog….

Involve Fans: When my blog reached a consistent 500 visitors a day, I decided to actively solicit posts from Bo’s fans. Sure, most blogs give readers the ability to post comments…but I thought that if I ran the comments as actual posts, I could create a “buzz” about the blog and generate large numbers of repeat visits….’

I subscribe to each of these tips and many of the other things Todd writes and think they apply not only to fan sites like the one he runs (keep in mind fan sites are hard to monetize…. I’ve been trying for a while now) but to most blog topics.

Blogging Rhythms 3 – Daily Rhythms

This Blogging Rhythms post should be a little shorter than the others (famous last words) as it’s focused upon a shorter rhythm – one of just 24 hours, the day.

Each of us have our own daily rhythms, times for waking up, eating, bathing, relaxing etc. Blogs often have up and down times during their day also.

For most of my blogs the most active times (in terms of traffic) tends to be while I sleep here in Australia and when Europe and the US are up and about (and surfing the web). This is of course a little different for my blogs on Aussie domains which have a nice busy time during the Aussie morning period when both Australia is awake and the US are having their early evenings.

So the question I’ve heard many bloggers ask is should such daily cycles impact the way they approach their blogging or should they just blog on regardless of who is up and surfing the web when?

My theory is that it’s worth considering when you post – but that it’s not worth getting obsessed by it.

My approach tends to vary from blog to blog. Let me unpack it a little:

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Blogging Rhythms 2 – Seasonal Rhythms

Another Blogging Rhythm that it’s useful to be aware of is the yearly rhythm.

Just last week I had an email from a reader asking me to take a look over their blog which they said was ‘in decline’. Ever since June they’d been gradually losing readers even though their Page Rank in search engines hadn’t changed and they were posting at the same rate as normal.

Northern Hemisphere Summer – After looking over their site I made the diagnosis that their blog was probably suffering from a variety of blogging seasonal depression disorder.

Traditionally traffic on the web (it’s not just a blogging thing) slows when the northern hemisphere hits summer. It’s not rocket science really – people take holidays – they go for walks in the sun – they play and watch sport – they’re not online quite as much and as a result traffic goes down.

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