Image by Iguana Jo.
Overheard in Vegas at BlogWorld Expo:
“I just started a blog and I’m excited to see where it will lead me.”
Have you ever said something like that? When I started out, it was certainly something I remember telling a friend. Nobody really knew where the medium of blogging would lead—we were all quite happy to let thing evolve and see where we ended up.
There was actually some sense in this approach: blogging was still evolving, and because the space wasn’t overly crowded or competitive, many bloggers were swept almost accidentally into amazing opportunities.
The problem that today’s beginning bloggers face is that the see-where-it-will-lead approach doesn’t always work. There are many millions of blogs, mainstream media is investing serious cash into the space, and some of the everybody-wins style of collaboration that used to go on in the blogosphere has disappeared.
While good things still come when you let your blog evolve, and luck still plays a part, many of the more successful bloggers that I meet today are strategic about what they’re doing.
One of the themes I taught at BlogWorld Expo this year focused on goals.
Knowing what you want to achieve and where you want to end up will make you more likely to end up achieving those things.
Conversely, setting out on a path with no idea of what you want to achieve leaves your destination purely up to chance. It could end up being good—or it could end up quite the opposite.
“If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?” – Basil S Walsh
The blogger who didn’t set goals
I told this story at BWE last week.
A number of years ago, a young blogger burst onto the scene in one of the niches I wrote in. They got noticed faster than almost any blogger I’d seen before: within weeks, their blog was getting hundreds of comments and being talked about on many other blogs.
The reason they were noticed so quickly was that almost every post they wrote took a pot-shot at another blogger in their niche. Posts on the blog were critiques, rants, and personal attacks on other key people in the niche (including me). And as a result, the blogger got noticed very, very quickly.
The blog grew over the coming months, largely based upon this snarky philosophy. Other bloggers saw the strategy working and new snarky blogs sprung up. The niche wasn’t a particularly pleasant one to be a part of for a while there.
I always thought it was a pity—the blogger was actually a smart person and when they wanted to, they had good things to say. But the blog always seemed to be seasoned with a toxic edge which detracted from what I thought could have been achieved.
One day, the blog that started it all stopped publishing. The blog went silent.
A few months later, the blog disappeared altogether. All traces of it vanished (although I’m sure it still lives in those Internet archiving sites).
I always wondered what happened to the blogger, until a few months ago, I found myself in a chat room listening to a webinar and recognized their name as one of the other participants.
I managed to get the blogger to jump on Skype with me and asked what had happened. Why had they stopped blogging?
The story the person told me was that they’d started blogging with one very vague goal: to get noticed. Beyond getting noticed, they didn’t really know what they wanted to achieve. It was only after they’d gotten noticed that they realized their ultimate goal was to be an authoritative voice in the niche. The blogger wanted to be someone that people looked to with respect. They wanted to be someone who’d be asked to speak and write books on the topic.
The problem was that the way they’d initially gone about their blogging had actually taken them away from their belatedly identified goals. They’d burned bridges and become known as the snarky blogger, rather than the authority blogger.
“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” – Fitzhugh Dodson
I don’t have goals!?
I’m very aware that many bloggers start blogs without hard and fast goals. They take the I’ll-see-where-it-leads approach. This was my approach, too—and good things did come from it.
However, the reality is that as vague as they were, I did have goals even back when I started eight years back.
They certainly weren’t long-term or far-reaching grand goals about where I’d be today. Rather, they were goals about the next steps—where I’d be in the coming days and weeks.
Over time, I achieved some of what I set out to do. I abandoned other goals and set new ones—some of them for the longer term. The key was to identify a direction to head in, and start moving.
You don’t always need the ultimate destination in mind, but if you can identify some next steps to work towards, at least you’ll be heading somewhere with intention.
“Progress has little to do with speed, but much to do with direction” – Unknown
Do you have goals for your blogging or are you seeing where blogging will lead you?
- 9 First Step Goals for New Bloggers
- How to Achieve Your Goals – Hint #1
- Strategic Blogging – Vision and Goals