We love to talk about:
- How to get more blog visitors
- How to entice readers to comment
- Tips and tricks to increase conversions and build a list
- How to turn readers into profitable customers
- How to buy Instagram video views
These are great topics. These tactics are important to a successful blog but we are missing one critical piece…the blog strategy. To be fair, the whole topic of strategy is complicated and difficult to understand. It’s easier to dig in and start executing the tactics. But the benefits of a simple, easy to implement blog strategy is worth the effort.
I’ll show you the cheat-sheet version of the strategy sessions I conduct with my clients. From there you can adapt the process to your blog.
It’s best to keep the answer to this question as simple as possible.
There are three key concepts in this definition:
Your objective describes the benefit you want to gain. I started Pushing Social to get published. Note the objective isn’t tied to the tactics of blogging, it is a broader goal pursued at the business level. Bloggers often struggle with creating a blog strategy because their blog is the only activity, there isn’t a broader objective outside of simply writing blog posts.
Your most potent strength is your personality, unique experiences, and mental discipline. Use them. Over time, you will acquire new strengths that can be used to position your blog and make it more attractive to new members. For example, one of my clients has spent his career building and managing sales teams. He’s a savvy businessman and has patiently amassed a war chest of powerful LinkedIn sales strategies. His blogging strategy builds on these strengths with a sales-focused editorial calendar, LinkedIn Expert Products, and more.
I always ask bloggers: “Who are your competitors?”
There are many great answers to this question. Unfortunately, I hear two particularly stupid responses: (1) I don’t have any competitors, and (2) I don’t want to focus on my competition. Let’s examine these:
“I don’t have competitors”
You always have direct competitors, people who want your customers, or indirect competitors, people who offer alternative solutions to your customers. If you truly don’t have competitors then it’s very likely you are chasing an unprofitable market or niche audience. For example, I’m sure that the market for stone-wheel chisels is wide-open.
“I don’t want to focus on my competition”
This sounds reasonable and rationale. But, it’s arrogant and short-sighted. Even though this person doesn’t want to focus on competitors, they should know that their prospects and customers will spend a lot of time thinking about their competitors. Ignoring your competition doesn’t make them go away. Worse, your competition might be focused on stealing your readers. So, respect your competition, respect your customers, and understand that you need to fight for attention.
With this strategy definition in hand, let’s move to several important blog strategy considerations:
The trick here is to target a moderately-sized audience with a clearly defined need. Audiences that are too big (i.e. General fitness) are by deep-pocketed publications. Audiences that are too small won’t sustain a growing blog.
How much time do you have to write? No content=no blog. Scarce content=failing blog, regular content=growing blog. You need to have a strategy for getting your content produced. Period.
Blogs require some technical expertise, graphic design help, and supporting services like email service providers, hosting, and analytics. Do you have the expertise to configure these options? Do you have the cash to get help with items you can’t handle?
Most of the time, blogging is a moonlighting activity. There are always other priorities competing for your time. Corporate bloggers have to juggle blog writing time with other duties. Entrepreneurs need to blog after they’ve serviced customers, built products, etc. In these cases, you’ll need to rely on a support team dedicated to giving you the time you need to blog effectively. Most of the time, you’ll need to specifically ask for this support.
I gave myself three years to build Pushing Social. This unusually long performance expectation made it easier for me to marshal the audience, time, resources, and support I needed to grow the blog. I often suggest giving a blog at least 12 months to hit its low-end performance targets.
Try this simple outline for pulling your blog strategy elements into one spot:
The overall organizational goal you want to achieve:
Describe the specific type of reader you want to attract
What are you absolutely great at?
What factors threaten your blog? What resources do you have for reducing or eliminating the impact of your weaknesses?
Who are your competitors (direct and indirect)? What do they do well? What do they suck at?
How will you use your strengths to attract your audience and seduce your competitor’s readers?