This guest post is by Kelly Watson of onewomanmarketing.com.
Blogging can be a great hobby. But treat it like one, and you may not get the traffic and attention you want. Treat blogging like a business, however, with a detailed plan and scheduled check-ins, and you’ll see results in no time.
I learned this the hard way. When I first started blogging 10 years ago, I dove in without knowing how to sustain regular updates or gauge my progress. Many failed attempts later, I looked back on my early blogging efforts and wished I had created a plan to give my work direction.
As a beginner, I wouldn’t have known what to include in that blogging plan. Today, I do. That’s why I’ve created the blogging business plan: a series of 36 questions to help you flesh out your blog’s theme, its goals and the shortest path to achieving success.
Completing the blogging plan will take time and thought. But in the end, it will save you countless hours of wasted effort. When answering the questions, feel free to skip around – just be sure to answer each one. Some may seem unnecessary or irrelevant, but each one is specifically designed to help you lay the foundation of a thriving blog.
Part one: the big picture
1. List your three top goals for blogging in order of importance.
2. How will you measure your success in achieving each goal?
3. What will be your blog’s focus? Explain. (Examples: Acme Company, medical technology, home pet grooming, beauty product reviews, etc.)
4. Who is the target audience for your blog? Think of your ideal visitor and list his or her age, gender, income level, profession, hobbies, etc. Be as specific as possible.
5. What problem(s) will your blog solve for this person?
6. What action(s) do you want this person to take after visiting your blog? (Examples: sign up for the e-newsletter, call to request a consultation, purchase the featured product, etc.)
7. How will you encourage visitors to take this action?
8. What’s the main way people will find your blog? (Examples: through the web site, via search engines, from business card, word of mouth, etc.)
Part two: the competition
9. Do an Internet search for blogs in your industry or field, and list three.
10. What features or content do these blogs have that could be included on your blog? List up to six.
11. What do these blogs do wrong? Where do you see room for improvement?
Part three: the content
12. What kind of content will your blog have? Choose all that apply:
- Company news and updates
- Industry news and updates
- Instructional/how-to posts
- Product reviews
- Case studies
- Other: ____________________
13. How often will you update your blog? Choose one:
- Several times a day
- Once a day
- Several times a week
- Once a week
- Every other week
14. How will you get ideas for new content? List up to four ways. (Examples: company meetings, competitor blogs, SmartBriefs, trade magazines, customer feedback, etc.)
15. List the titles of your first five blog posts.
16. How many blog posts will you have “in reserve” upon launch? List their titles.
Part four: the structure
17. What blogging platform will you use? Circle one:
- Moveable Type
- Other: ___________________________
18. Will your blog be hosted or self-hosted?
19. If your blog will be self-hosted, who will install the blogging software?
20. Will you customize your blog’s design? If so, who will do the design work? Who will make the changes to the blogging software?
21. What will the domain name be?
22. Where will you purchase the domain?
23. Where will you purchase the hosting service?
Part five: the budget
24. If using a self-hosted platform, what will the annual costs be?
- Domain: _________________________
- Host: ____________________________
- Platform Fees: ______________________
- Installation: _______________________
- Graphic Design: _____________________
- Customization/other fees: ____________
25. How much time can you reasonably spend on your blog per week?
26. How will you allocate this time? Can you schedule these tasks into your calendar each week?
27. Are you concerned you won’t have the time or experience needed to handle one or more aspects of blogging (i.e. content creation, proofreading, formatting, design)? If so, list these aspects.
28. Do you have a budget for hiring outside help? If so, what is it?
29. Look at the concerns listed in question 12, and brainstorm several options for delegating these tasks that fit within your proposed budget.
30. If hiring outside help, list the tasks to be completed, where you will find this help, and an estimate of cost.
Part six: success metrics
31. What link building strategies will you be using to increase your blog’s SEO?
32. How much time will you spend link-building? Can you schedule a regular time into your calendar each week?
33. What main keywords and phrases will you use for your blog’s content? List up to 10.
34. How will you track your blog’s success? Circle the methods you will use and write down a goal for each one circled, if desired.
- By RSS subscribers ________________________________________
- By e-mail subscribers _______________________________________
- Through Google Analytics_____________________________________
- Through Alexa web stats _____________________________________
- Through comments and feedback ________________________________
35. Will you be doing any special promotions during your blog launch? If so, write down the details.
36. Besides SEO strategies, how will you continue to grow your blog’s audience over time?
You’ve just finished the blogging business plan. Congratulations! To get the most from your work, tack the completed plan to a bulletin board or similar place where you’ll see it often. Then, check back every few months to make sure you’re still on target.
Have you planned your blogging efforts? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.