These days, everybody and their cat seems to have a blog. If you have one now or if you’re considering starting one, it’s smart to have a strategy before you begin so your goals can inform each decision you make.
Your strategy will impact the tone of your writing, the look and feel of your site, and the way you set things up to monetize your blog (assuming you want to).
Today, I want to talk about some things you’ll want to consider as you build your strategy that will help point you in the direction of success.
Why Are You Blogging?
There are plenty of great reasons to blog. On one end of the spectrum, you have the “journal bloggers”– those who just want to give updates to family and friends. On the other end, you have the entrepreneur blogger who is using a blog as a part of a focused sales strategy.
If the latter sounds more like you, I wrote an article called How to Create a Business Blog that Actually Brings in Business that might interest you. Even if you’re just trying to sell affiliate products or ebooks, I definitely recommend you read it as you’re working on your strategy.
The first step to a winning strategy is to know what your REAL goals are… and they might surprise you. If you decide it’s not enough just to tell your grandma about your kids’ trip to the zoo and you start to want to bring in traffic to make some extra money for your family, this is going to change your strategy.
Are you trying to establish yourself as an authority so you can land a certain job? Are you an artist who wants to be seen or heard? Are you a business owner who wants to call attention to a product for sale? The answer to these kinds of questions will make all the difference when it comes to the way you blog. Answer them as soon as possible. If they change, your whole blog/marketing strategy might need to change as well. Don’t be afraid of that. Embrace it!
Who is Your Audience?
Once you know what you hope to accomplish, you’ll want to know who your target reader is. While it can work to blog about a variety of subjects, things become quite a bit more complicated when you’re trying to write to a variety of different people.
Knowing your target audience, really getting yourself in their shoes, will tell you a lot about how this kind of person wants to be talked to, what they want to learn about, and what they might be willing to spend money on, assuming that’s one of your goals.
The clearer your picture of this target persona, the better you’ll be able to focus your efforts toward appealing to them. Visualize them every time you sit down to create new content and your content will improve.
How Will You Create a Loyal Following?
Assuming you’ve already stepped into your ideal reader’s shoes and you have a good idea of what they want, now all you have to do is package your content strategy such that you’re meeting those needs and desires.
Your content should help them, inspire them, make them laugh, solve their problems or answer their questions. The more you are able to do those things, the more they’ll appreciate you and (if you’re lucky) want to return.
But here’s the hard part: LOTS of people are trying to do the exact same thing you are. So you have to think: How will you stand out? How will your content be remarkable enough to leave a lasting impression?
The internet is more saturated every day with content, so if you ever hope to see your stuff circulate in a big way, you’re going to need to create something really remarkable.
What Do You Want Your Reader to Do?
Creating something remarkable for your target reader is just the beginning. If your goal is something more than just entertainment, you’ll need to have a desired action to help organize the way you present your content.
Do you want them to share? Subscribe? Make a purchase? All of the above?
If you answered “all of the above”, you’re probably going to want to narrow down your goal, although you can aim for each of these on different posts, but you do need to be aware that what they call “choice fatigue” is very real.
Too many choices can often lead to indecision, so make the action you want the clear and obvious next step for your reader and you’ll get better results.
How Will You Get Them to Do It?
Assuming you’ve settled on a specific call to action (CTA) for your post, executing on it can be as simple as asking a question at the end of your post or linking to a “buy now” page between paragraphs if you’re really trying to make sales.
However, it can (and often should) be a little more complicated than that. Often, the path to getting that desired action will require a series of increasingly higher-stakes steps. This is what many online marketers call a “sales funnel”.
If your ultimate goal is something big like “attend a $2500 retreat”, you might not want to make that the first thing you ask. You want to baby-step your customer into it. First, maybe they download a free piece of premium content. Then, maybe they subscribe. Once they’ve subscribed, maybe you send them some compelling content that inspires them to buy your ebook. Then in the eBook, maybe you make a good case for an in-depth course. In the course, you pitch the retreat.
Get the idea? That’s a sales funnel.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to have one… but if you have something to sell, you might want to consider setting one up.
A blog can be a powerful tool for both businesses and individuals. Whether you mean to or not, you’re building something– the question is, what?