Blogging Goals

Wayne Hurlbert writes a post on Blogging Goals that might be a good follow up for some after my Strategic Blogging series of posts.

Domain Name Suggestion Tool – DomainBot

I’ve been working on some ideas for new blogs over the past 2 weeks and as part of the exercise I’ve been looking at choosing domain names. Of course looking for a domain name can be a frustrating business – you know what you want but the chances are that it’s already taken as a .com and probably most of the other extensions also.

You can spend endless hours typing random names into domain search tools and come up with very little.

Surely there is a better way?

Luckily a year or so back someone pointed me to DomainsBot which is a domain suggestion tool. You simply type in the key word or words that you want to be in your domain and it comes back to you with a variety of combinations of available domains using that combination of words (and if you like synonyms of the words). The results of this come with a suggested ranking.

I know there are other similar tools out there but for some reason I keep coming back to this one. How have you come up with your blog’s name or domain?

The Dangers of Niche Blogging

There is a helpful article over at on Niche Markets the Entrepreneurial Mind where Jeff Cornwall posts about the dangers of Niche strategy. Of course Jeff is writing in a broad sense for all businesses that target Niches but his theories are particularly relevant for those of us working on niche blogs with tightly focused topics. Jeff’s four main points are:

– Entering a niche requires adaptability in your plan.

– Niches Change. Even if you get the market right in the beginning, niche markets (like any market) will change over time.

– Niches Can Go Away. No market is forever. Niches are the type of market that can dry up, sometimes quite suddenly.

– Niches Can Grow. While significant growth in your market may not sound bad, it can attract more competitors.

He concludes by writing:

‘So is a niche a good place to enter the market? Absolutely. However, change is inevitable and even in a niche market an entrepreneur needs to be able to adapt to survive over the longer-term.’

This is so true for blogging. I often look at my successful blogs and wonder how much longer they will be as profitable as they currently are. Whilst I presently do well in many of the niches that I operate in I’m constantly reminding myself to look out for the next project.

It’s tempting to settle down and to just keep the 15 or so active blogs that I currently have ticking over – but whilst this would be comfortable to do I’m aware that within a year or two many of the niches I’m operating will be a different scene to now. The key is adaptability and the ability to change courses quickly as the opportunity arises.

found via Business Opportunities Weblog

Declaring War on Blogger Apathy VI

This is the 6th and final post in a mini series on combatting Blog Apathy

• New Stimuli – one of the best ways to get your creativity levels up is to expose yourself to new stuff. Buy a book, watch a movie, meet someone new, go for a walk, spend time with your family, listen to some music – get out of your normal daily rhythm and expose yourself to some new sights, sounds, tastes, touches and smells. Remember that what you put into your life has a direct baring on what comes out.

• Just Write – it’s amazing what comes when you just start writing sometimes. Some of my bests posts emerged out of really dry patches when I forced myself to sit and write. The first few paragraphs might end up being scrapped – but if you keep writing you’ll eventually hit gold. [Read more…]

Declaring War on Blogger Apathy V

This is post 5 on a mini series on combatting Blog Apathy

• Meme it Up – another way to get yourself a little more interested in and energised by your blog is to start some sort of Meme. Run a competition, start a blogging project, add a quiz or survey – do something fun, creative and interactive to get other bloggers involved in what you’re doing. To be honest this is why I started the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project – seeing the wonderful response from readers has definitely lifted my blogging spirits this week.

• Subscribe to a new Source of Information – sometimes it’s easy to get into a rut when you feel like you’re just seeing the same sorts of information on your blogs topic over and over again. So subscribe to some new keywords on Google News Alerts or Topix RSS feeds or find some new blogs to follow. If you put fresh content and ideas into your head hopefully some fresh content will come out.

• Short Posts – if you don’t have much to say – don’t say much. Keep your posts short and to the point. Even if they don’t feel profound to you, just the act of posting something might loosen the blogging creativity within you. Short posts can actually be incredibly effective communication tools also so it might just add something special to your blog.

Declaring War on Blogger Apathy IV

This is post 4 on a mini series on combatting Blog Apathy

• Develop a Posting Schedule – it’s amazing what you can produce if you give yourself a deadline. Whilst for some people the idea of schedules and plans might have the opposite effect – for many of us they help keep us going. My posting goal is 25-35 posts per day – knowing what I’m aiming for helps keep me on track. Whether you’ve got a goal of 2 daily posts, or 500 monthly posts some goals can help get your blogging into gear.

• Get a Guest Blogger – put a little new blood into your blog by inviting someone else to join you in posting either while you take a short break to rejuvenate or to blog alongside you. I’ve recently added a few bloggers to a handful of my blogs and have really enjoyed both the pressure that it’s taken off me but also the energy and fresh ideas that they’ve brought.

• Read other’s blogs – sometimes its easy to become so focused upon blogging that we forget to interact with other bloggers. I remember a few months ago realizing that I rarely really read other blogs any more (apart from those I scanned each day for useful information to blog about). Get back to basics and actually read other blogs – you might just find that in doing so you rediscover the reason you started your own blog in the first place. In addition to that you’ll probably find yourself stimulated to bounce off their blogs with your own.

• Interact with other bloggers – connected to the last point I also find it very useful to not only read the work of others but to converse with them. I regularly chat via instant messaging or phone with other bloggers – in doing so we encourage and inspire each other to break through the dry times. So leave a comment somewhere, start an IM conversation, send an email – talk to someone. Don’t let blogging become an insular lonely thing – rather take advantage of the relational aspects of blogging.

Declaring War on Blogger Apathy III

This is post 3 on a mini series on combatting Blog Apathy

• Redesign – I always find a fresh coat of paint can really lift a room, a haircut can improve a mood and a blog redesign can get the creative juices flowing again. Tweak it, adapt it or completely redesign it – either way you might just inject a little more energy into something that’s grown tired and find that you’ve got more energy for your blogging.

• Write Posts Ahead of Time – this won’t help you now if you’re in apathy mode – but if you’re not and currently have some energy consider writing a few extra posts that are non time specific to keep for a rainy/apathetic day. When you’re inspired write more so that when you’re not you don’t have to.

• Keep an Idea Journal – this is similar to the previous point but just involves keeping a list of possible post ideas you could write on at a later uninspired point in time. It might include just titles of posts or even a few points that you could write about. I’m constantly jotting down ideas for posts or series and even new blogs all day everyday. Take your journal with you everywhere you go so that if inspiration strikes you can capture it.

Strategic Blogging

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.


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:

  • ‘I blog to make a living’
  • ‘I blog for recreational purposes – to help me relax’
  • ‘I blog as part of my plan for world domination’
  • ‘I blog to keep a record of the life and times of me’
  • ‘I blog because I want to help others’
  • ‘I blog to because I’m lonely and want to connect with others’
  • ‘I blog to pick up cute girls/guys’
  • ‘I blog because it’s fun’
  • ‘I blog because I want to build profile – I want to be known’

These are just a few examples that come to mind off the top of my head. Some of us will have simple sentences, for others our reasons for blogging might be a little more complex and combine a number of things.

One person’s blogging mission will be differnt from anothers – there is really no right or wrong here – behind each blogger there is some sort of mission whether it’s deep, shallow, silly, smart, selfish or altruistic. The task now is to name yours.

To identify these missions is very helpful because knowing why we blog then helps us to work out how we should blog to best reach our mission.

So what is your mission? Why do you blog?

This is not a question about measurable goals or strategies and your answer probably shouldn’t be too blog specific yet (ie don’t write one for each of your blogs if you have more than one) – rather get at your motivations and big picture hopes for your blogging.


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.

What values determine our behavior?

Our values will come out of many different places including our family, culture, experiences and perhaps even personality type. They are worth naming in the early days of our blogging as there comes times in the life of any Blogger when the temptation to step outside the boundaries of behavior that we believe in comes a knocking. Having previously named (privately or even more powerfully – publicly) these values helps us to resist the temptation in the heat of the moment. Values are also important in helping others understand how or what we blog.

So what are the values that shape your blogging behavior? What are the boundaries that you’d be not willing to cross? What are the topics you’d be not willing to blog about? How will you treat those around you (other bloggers, your readers, suppliers of information etc)? Take a few minutes to write a list of the values that you want to shape your blogging. These might include things like:

  • I value the work of others and when I build upon it I acknowledge them
  • I don’t blog about anything sexually explicit, gambling, drugs or concerning Harry Potter
  • I create an environment where everyone can have their say without fear of censorship
  • I respect the privacy of others in my blogging and don’t reveal private conversations or contact details
  • I only publish fact and will state if I’m speculating
  • If I make a mistake I publicly acknowledge this and correct it
  • I will always make it clear if I’m benefiting from something that I write
  • I value people and will not blog about them in degrading ways

Of course such a list will always cause discussion and debate simply because one person’s values will vary from another person’s values. In a sense we’re talking ethics here.

Perhaps it would be appropriate to write up a set of values like these as a public blogging value statement of manifesto to promote the type of blog/s you’re keeping and to give your readers permission to keep you accountable to what you’re on about.

With your mission and values in place you’ll be ready for the next stages of actually mapping out how you’re going to move forward in your blogging.


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.


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.


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

In a sense what you’re describing here are the areas that you need to achieve in to make your blog successful (the above list is only partial). The list may include tasks that you already do well, don’t do well or don’t yet do at all.

In identifying these issues or activities you define areas that you’ll need to consider some strategy in.

Present Position

Having identified each activity that you need to engage in to be successful in achieving your objectives and goals you now do a little analysis of how you’re currently performing in each activity. The question you want to answer with each are is:

Where are we?

What am I doing well in this area? What am I neglecting? What is working and what isn’t working? These are all good questions to ask. You may want to do a ‘SWOT’ analysis here (look at your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and assess the current reality. Be honest with yourself – if you’re anything like me there are some things that you’re doing very well and other things that you’re ignoring.

Whilst it may not be pleasant to acknowledge current short fallings it’s vitally important as your blog will only ever go as far as your weakest area allows you to.

Future Direction

Now you’ve described the current reality you again should look in to the future in each of the activities that you’ve identified and ask yourself:

Where do I want to be in this specific activity in a year?

You know where you are now but what are you going to work towards? For example you might have identified marketing as one of your ‘activities’ an in analyzing it find that you’re great at marketing to other blogs in your niche but that blogs outside your niche and non bloggers have never heard of your blog. As a result you might say that in a year you want to be known outside your niche and be getting exposure in the wider media.

In a sense you’re again setting mini goals, breaking down your overall ‘vision’ into specific areas of your blogging.

Go through each of the activities that you’ve identified already and come up with some future direction. Be specific enough in each one that you can measure your success in each area. Don’t write how you’ll achieve this direction yet (that comes next) – rather try to paint a picture of the future in each of the areas of your blogging.

Below you’ll see a table that illustrates how each of the above three steps might look if you put them into some sort of spread sheet. Of course I’ve completely oversimplified the process here in order to illustrate the point. Each ‘issue’ is likely to have a multifaceted description of the present position and may in fact have a number of ‘future directions’ for each.


You’ve analyzed your current position and have looked into the future to how you want your blog to be in each of the activities of your blogging – now you basically need to compare one with the other. How does your current reality and future vision compare? Do they match up? If they do you’re either a brilliant blogger, you’re lying or you’re not aiming high enough.

For most of us the current reality doesn’t match what we want to achieve.

What major changes do you need to make to get to your future vision?

Albert Einstein defined insanity as ‘doing the same old things the same old ways and expecting to get different results’ (paraphrased). The only way you’ll see changes in your blogging is if you change your approach. Which of your ‘activities’ needs to change? How?

You might find that some of your activities are doing well and don’t need too much changing – but the reality will be that we can all improve in all areas – and that in some areas more than others we might need a complete overhaul if we want to really achieve something. Make a list of the changes you need to make.

Once again I’ve included a diagram that hopefully illustrates how this might look (in a very over simplified form).

Action Plan

We’ve reached the last step of the strategic plan and now we finally get to a time of planning (and doing) some action.

In each of the ‘activities’ break down your strategy into achievable tasks. You might like to break it down into some sort of a timeline.

  • what will you do in the next month?
  • what will you do in the next 3 months?
  • what will you do in the next 6 months?
  • what will you do in the next 12 months?

Your action plan should contain very specific tasks.

Some might be ongoing tasks like:

  • ‘post 10 posts per day every day for the next month’
  • ‘start 1 new blog every month until October’
  • ‘add 3 new affiliate links to my blog every day this month’
  • ‘write 1 press release to promote my blog each month’

Others might be one off tasks like:

  • ‘apply for Adsense program and integrate into blog’
  • ‘get to know blogger X’
  • ‘do survey of my readers to find out who they are’
  • ‘write a series of posts on <insert topic here>’

Once again these tasks need to be specific, measurable (you need to know when they’re complete) and achievable. In doing this you’re achieving the very big picture dreams and objectives that you’ve previously set one step at a time.

You’ll see once again below that I’ve filled in (in a very simplified way) how some of the strategic plan might build as you add your action plan. In reality each ‘issue’ could have multiple strategies – each of which could have multiple actions assigned to them. By this point you should be left with a larger list of ‘things to do’ that you need to prioritise for and then begin to work through. Once again these actions should be broken down into small enough parts so as not to overwhelm you. Make them measurable and achievable so you can begin to tick them off and create some momentum to your blogging.

Declaring War on Blogger Apathy II

Over the next few posts I’m going to be posting a few thoughts on how to defeat apathy in your blogging – here’s a few to kick us off.

• Start a Series – it gets hard to constantly come up with new topics to blog about each day so why not pick a larger topic to break down over a week or so. I find that once I’ve got a topic to work on I often get the creative juices flowing – a series can fast track the process. The past few days have definitely lifted my own interest in ProBlogger (not that it was too low) – simply because I’ve been in ‘series mode’.

• Invite questions from your readers – get your readers involved in your blog by setting the agenda for you to write about over the next few weeks of your blogging. Once again this is about stimulating ideas for topics.

• Revisit old Posts – if your archives are anything like mine they are full of posts and articles that you’ve put hours of work into. Keep in mind that many of your newer readers would not have read your old posts and so from time to time it might be worth either reposting old posts, updating old posts or simply bouncing off old posts and continuing old streams of thought.

More posts to come on how to defeat blog apathy over the next day or so. Feel free to add your own tips in comments below.