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Planning your killer blog

Tweet Lets get right to it, you are thinking of creating a blog. Why? Ah, that stopped you didn’t it. You’ve read the first post “Building wealth with your blog” and like the the thought of bringing in some extra money from your blog. This post looks at what it takes to plan your blog, [...]

Lets get right to it, you are thinking of creating a blog. Why?

Ah, that stopped you didn’t it. You’ve read the first post “Building wealth with your blog” and like the the thought of bringing in some extra money from your blog. This post looks at what it takes to plan your blog, before you even get started writing. Hopefully by the end of this post you will have some answers that help you establish the purpose of your blog.

Here are the questions we’ll look at:

  • Topics
    • What are you going to talk about?
    • Who are you going to talk too?
    • How often are you going to say it?
  • Goals
    • What do you want from this blog?
    • What are your targets for this blog?
  • Marketing
    • How are you going to promote your blog?
  • Investment
    • What do you need to purchase for your blog?
    • Will you pay to promote your blog?
    • Do you have the time to write regularly?

Ultimately, you need to be able to answer “What is the purpose of this blog?” (or Why are you writing?).

Topics:
You need to have something to write about, something you are passionate about. Don’t pick some random topic you know nothing about (although sometimes this can work & I’ll explain that later). It’s much easier to write about something you know.

What are you going to write about?
Many people will tell you to find a niche, something you know, that not many others do. They’ll tell you to pick one topic and stick to it. If you like coffee, then blog about coffee. Trust me, if you have only one theme, you will dry up and run out of things to post about. Okay this might not be true, for example Autoblog who have a constant supply of content as the automotive industry never stops. However there really are only 2 successful automotive blogs – autoblog & jalopnik, to enter this market would be very hard as people will read the same news again and again.

You will find, where a blog is focused on a single topic there will be only a handful of successful blogs in that sector, making it very hard to get your blog noticed. For example I wouldn’t suggest creating a new blog for the automotive sector, however there is no reason your blog couldn’t have a category where you share your thoughts, building on the posts found on Autoblog & Jalopnik.

My recommendation is pick a couple of topics that you enjoy, this gives you a greater scope to write & if you dry up on topic 1 today, then write about topic 2. Try to keep the topics related, although, this is your blog so you make the rules.

I mentioned earlier that sometimes it works to post about something you know nothing about. This can only be done if you are learning, and sharing your journey along the way. Sharing information as you learn it is a great way to reinforce what you are learning – and you have a great flow of content.

Who are you going to write to?
You have to think about the audience for yor blog. You need to remember your audience while writing, so your content is presented in a way they can understand. If you are writing a technical blog, then it is assumed you can write with technical terms.

However, this is a blog not a book, not a magazine. Don’t get to hung up on being a perfect writer, instead write what you would like to read. Keep it clear and simple – your audience will grow.

How often are you going to write?
This is the hard part that many people skip when planning their blog. It is easy to think that blogging is simple, you start out dreaming of (lets be conservative) a new post every day. That is 365 posts a year and believe me is nigh on impossible with a single author.

Be realistic, why not start by saying 1 post a week, or 2 posts a week. Of course if you are simply posting links then it’s easier, but if you are writing (like I am) then expect each post to take between 10 and 40 mins (it’s taken 20mins for me to get to this point).

Goals
So now you’ve picked your topic(s) it’s time to to figure out the goals you wish to aim for.

What do you want from this blog?
You need to be able to write down in a short sentence what you want to achieve from this blog. Do you have something you want to share? Do you want to champion change? Maybe you just want to purely and simply make some extra money. Doesn’t matter why, but you need to have that clear in your mind when you create your blog.

What are your targets for this blog?
No matter what you do, you’ll want to know how you are performing. This is the same with your blog. You put a lot of effort into creating and maintaining a blog. You need to have something to measure it against. So you need to create some targets to aim for. Your targets can be financial, traffic or number of posts written.

For Studiowhiz one of my goals is to increase traffic. At the moment the site is averaging around 200 people visiting a week (a long way down from the site’s hay day). I’m realistic so, 4 months from now I would like to double that to 400. My next goal is 12 months from now the site is attracting around 2500 visitors a week.

Marketing
Now you have your topic & your goals, how are you going to achieve them? You can’t just create your blog and hope the world finds it, it doesn’t work like that. You need to spread the word about your site. Telling your friends might garner you 5 or 6 visitors. You need to plan how you are going to bring traffic to your site (we’ll look at this in depth in another post). You need to decide how much time you will devote to promoting your blog around the web.

The best way to market your blog is to get out there and be active in the online communities. There are ethics around how to promote your blog so it’s not seen as spam. However starting with making sure your blog address is in every email you send, and in every comment you write is a good start.

Investment
Finally, you’ve got it almost all sorted, now you just have to answer the cost questions.

What do you need to purchase for your blog?
Do you have or need a domain? The domain is what people will use to find your site. They range in price from US$9 per year to, well in NZ a domain will cost you up to NZ$64 per year. You can however get a free weblog with WordPress.com and Blogger.com these allow you to create a site and leverage their domains, or you can purchase your own domain.

You also need to decide if you are going to organise hosting for your blog. Studiowhiz for example is hosted on a computer with MediaTemple, but if you head over to wordpress.com you’ll see lots of sites hosted by the WordPress team. If you are just starting I’d suggest the free solutions. It makes it so simple, but if you have a little experience with websites then by all means host your own.

Will you pay to promote your blog?
We talked just now about how you might market your blog. Of course you can pay to market your blog. You could use Google AdSense to purchase keywords and drive traffic to your site. This can get expensive. I know of companies spending in excess of $30 000 a month targeting just New Zealand traffic.

Do you have the time to write regularly?
Many people start their blogs and post every day, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. It’s fun, it’s novel and somehow you just manage to find the time. However as time drags on it gets harder to manage your time & write on your blog. I find I am having to pre-write things and schedule them for posting at a later stage. For Example this post is being written 7 days before it will go live.

Leo over at Zen Habbits has a great post showing you a slice of his day. He is a prolific writer on his blog with some great advice about managing your tasks & writing.

You need to be disciplined, and realistic. Set yourself goals you can reach while still enjoying your blog & life.

Summary:
Get out a pen and paper, write down the questions and think through your answers. Blogging is seen as easy, and it is if your blog is simply to be a collection of random posts. If, however, you wish to have a clear purpose for your blog, maybe make a little extra cash then be prepared to work at it.

My Answers:
I’m sure you are wondering, what did Mr K answer when planning this version of the Studiowhiz blog? Well here are my answers.

  • Topics
    • What are you going to talk about?
    • I’m going to talk about things that interest me. My interests happen to include a passion for small business, and online business. I want to see people getting more out of their website. I’ll also throw in some anecdotes from my journey through life.
    • Who are you going to talk too?
    • Anyone who will listen. I’m targeting like minded people for discussion, however I’m also cattering to the type of people who ask me questions in my daily life. These people range from CEO’s of large companies to the pastoral team at church. I find that they don’t understand the jargon and terms and yet they know they need to have an online presence. If I can help these sorts of people through my writing then I’ll be happy.
    • How often are you going to say it?
    • This is a hard one for me. I’m going to try to set aside 3 to 4 hours every Saturday morning to write, which will probably be from 5am to 8am when bub will wake and end any hope I have of writing. I’ll also post the occasional item during the working week. As I mentioned earlier, I’m writing content and scheduling it to arrive at a later stage.
  • Goals
    • What do you want from this blog?
    • A place to share my thoughts. In the past I’ve spoken internationally & written/contributed to books. I miss sharing my thoughts – that is my primary goal. Sure I’d like to bring in some extra cash. I’m not setting out to make millions from this site, however if I can bring in enough to buy a Canon 40D camera or a new iMac and other toys I’ll be very happy.
    • What are your targets for this blog?
    • My targets are to double traffic in 4 months, and in 12 months to have 2500 visitors a week. Finacially, I’d like to go from $30 a month to $100+ in 4 months and to see income increasing month on month. I’d also like to see at least 3 new posts on this site every week.
  • Marketing
    • How are you going to promote your blog?
    • I’ve a background in the internet and so I will leverage this knowledge to grow this site. I will promote through comments and links on other sites. I’ll also leverage Google, Yahoo and other sites to bring in traffic.
  • Investment
    • What do you need to purchase for your blog?
    • Nothing, however I do need to pay US$200 for hosting in Feb 2008, and I will need to renew the domain. My costs to run Studiowhiz at the moment are about US$350 a year.
    • Will you pay to promote your blog?
    • No, at the moment I just don’t have the money. I will consider competition based promotion in the future, where I will need to pay for prizes.
    • Do you have the time to write regularly?
    • Sure, I think so provided I juggle my time correctly. This means learning to sleep with my natural sleep rhythm so I can sleep less & get more done, freeing up time to write for this blog.

Next post will address the setting up of your blog, and will expand on some of the answers you have from the questions above.

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5 Responses

[...] Planning you killer blog [...]

[...] that you have completed the planning of your blog you will have a firm understanding of what you are trying to achieve. For now we are going to [...]

[...] you have planned your blog, and started your blog you need to really think about the things you are going to write. Actually [...]

[...] to be successful is that I have a clearly defined set of goals. Mr K has talked about goals in this post here, but today I wish to let you know the way I went about setting [...]

12.28.07

Really nice summary of steps in creating a blog…thanks.