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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- David Cameron –The 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.”
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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”).
- 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.