A number of people I know are launching, re-designing, abandoning, or selling their blog right now. An equal number are starting new blogs. One fellow writer mentioned how hard it is to keep a high level of enthusiasm after blogging for a while — more than a few months, but not quite a year.
I liken it to writing the middle of a novel. You may know where your story is going, you may have goals and some idea of how to achieve them, but getting there is another story. In the case of novel-writing — and blogging — you just need to plow through. And a support system of fellow writers can help.
Another way to avoid the middle-of-the-blog doldrums is to enter blogging with a clear business plan. If you are blogging to make money, approach it as you would any other business. If you started selling Mary Kay, opened a corner deli, started a day care center in your home or launched any other kind of business, would you give up within the first year just because you were bored? Since most of these businesses require an investment of time and money — and a certain level of commitment to other people — you’d keep it going. When you launch a blog, you have a commitment to your readers. If you plan to stay the course, start with a solid plan.
Identify your target market.
The first step in your blogging business plan is to identify your target market. The target market should be easy, but you might be surprised by who you think your blog is targeting versus the potential readers you actually attract. That audience may be much larger than you imagine.
For instance, my new blog, targets parents who intend to raise their children following the principles and beliefs of the Law of Attraction. But I may also attract life and business coaches, people who love shopping for baby and household products, and fellow writers. I may even gain a following from other blogs — people who just enjoy my writing. Knowing who you’re targeting will help you when you reach out to potential readers on social media sites — and may also give you new ideas for posts.
Identify and evaluate your competition.
When I say “evaluate your competition”, I don’t mean to look over your shoulder at other blogs you fear are better than yours. In fact, the blogging world is so friendly, once you find your competitors you may forge relationships with them. Trade links. Share guest posts. Inspire each other. Like wealth, readers are abundant in the Universe and there are plenty to go around.
When one blog owner I work with set goals that were tremendously high compared to where readership was at that time, I chalked it up to the old adage, “Shoot for the moon. If you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.” But in the first month of tracking results, we came incredibly close to reaching those goals. Dream big — you’ll never know what you can accomplish until you work at it, but if you aim too low, you’re limiting yourself.
Make a promotions and marketing plan.
Once you have your goals written down (don’t forget that important step!) make a plan to reach them. Does it involve increasing your social media following on Twitter and Facebook? Growing your mailing list? Guest blogging on high-traffic sites? Landing radio or TV appearances? All of these things can help you grow your blog readership — and keep you inspired when the going gets rough. If you intend to monetize your blog, research the best ways to do so and put those programs into place.
Track your results.
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Many professional bloggers use Google Analytics for tracking their traffic but there are plenty of ways to measure your hits and, of course, income from your blog. Whatever you use, follow it closely, tracking results weekly.
Blog, blog, blog.
Regular, high-quality content and community interaction keeps readers coming back and attracts new fans. This is the hard part when you’re in those middle stages, where it feels like you’re almost there but you’re not getting much feedback. Keep going. Keep your goals in sight (literally and figuratively!) And remember that you’re not alone.
Of course, there are other elements to running a successful blog, but getting back to basics can keep you going when the going gets tough.
Have you launched a blog? What did you learn in the process?
Image Credit: 06-29-06 © Stephen Sweet