Monday, 2 February 2009

How to write a blogging strategy

Is it worth having a strategy for your blog? Maybe. First, here's the limitations of a blogging strategy:

Blogs must be flexible

You've got to be able to write about the issues, people and events that are in your radar at any point. If a blog strategy gives you reason to pause before writing, then it's getting in the way. A successful blog must reflect the issues you really care about.

Blog traffic can be unpredictable

It's the posts that you think no one will want to read which will by amongst your most popular ever. Those that you thought too niche, too specialist, or too quirky will find an audience that you never knew existed. If a blog strategy prevents you writing these, then it's getting in the way.

A blog is part of a conversation. Conversations can't be planned

Planned conversations (you know the ones: 'we need to talk') are always uncomfortable. That's as true on a blog as in real life. The critical factor of a blog is its authenticity. If a strategy prevents your blog being 'authentically you', it's getting in the way.

All this isn't much help if your boss has asked you to write a blog strategy. So what might that strategy note include?

Analyse your audience

It can be instructive to analyse your audience. What are the issues I most care about? Where is the conversation happening currently? What do blogs currently write about? Do I have a niche? Understanding your audience and its market place is sensible research and can make the job of building your blog that much easier.

Audience recruitment

An extension of the previous rule really. If there's a blog, person or company you want to read your blog, write a post specifically designed to recruit them. I've done this a couple of times and it's always worked.

Posting for a rainy day

If you have a strategy, it might make it easier to post on a day of bloggers-block. For example, if I know that once a week I have to review a book I've read, at least I know what to write about.

Understand your analytics

A blog strategy can be a useful device to ensure you are understanding your web analytics. If a post gets lots of traffic or a good number of comments or links, analyse why. Then write another post like it. If that succeeds, you came to the right conclusions.

Good blogging takes three to six months

It takes between three and six months to get to where you want with a blog. If a strategy would help give you focus, then give it a go.

Ensure that you've tried every technique to promote your blog

If your strategy helps keep your focus on utilising every technique to promote your blog, it's doing you a service. But retain the ability to abandon one technique in favour of another if you see it's not working.

This all notwithstanding, I usually recommend clients have a weekly menu and structure to their posts rather than a strategy per-se. That ensures flexibility whilst building on what works.

Any other tips, criticism or peer review gratefully accepted.

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