So many things in life need purpose. Without purpose, it seems as though we can flounder for untold lengths of time. It’s only until we define exactly what we would like to achieve, that we can get down and make progress.
In this post, I’m going to discuss blogging with goals in mind. When I refer to “goals,” I’m referring to honest goals. You’ll see what I’m getting at after you read the first section below. I’ll be going over how to discover what your blog should be all about, blogging with that purpose in mind as well as setting yourself up for the future. It’s with this type of planning that you can hopefully and eventually call yourself a successful blogger.
What Does Your Blog Hope To Achieve?
I’ve been creating and writing on blogs since 2006. Many of them have been and continue to be successful, but as common with many prolific bloggers, some have failed. Of those that failed, I can now identify the reason for failure. I had no clear purpose and direction I wanted to take the blog. Things were fuzzy in my head. What began as a great idea quickly turned into a project that had no true purpose and it showed in my writing. As time went on, productivity suffered until I finally pulled the plug. This type of scenario occurs far too often on the internet.
From all that I’ve gathered since my early blogging days, I’d have to say the most important aspect for any blogger to focus on is having a set vision for their blog. It’s focus that drives projects like this through to building an online reputation and an eventual following. Clear goals are an absolute necessity. It’s unfortunate how often this first step to blogging is overlooked because by focusing on goals and vision, many bloggers could enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Have you ever struggled with productivity? Let me give you an example of what I might be talking about. Let’s say you were in charge of mowing lawns in a neighborhood. You have ten accounts and ten lawns to mow. During any given week, all lawns need to be mowed at least once. What often happens with situations like this is you wonder how many lawns you’ll cut one day and then you wonder how many lawns you’ll cut the next. At the end of the week, you may have missed a lawn or two or may have to mow the majority of the lawns on the final day. What if there was a better way to manage your time?
Setting Goals Helps You Define Targets
If you decided that it would be better and more productive to mow two lawns per day during your five day work week, you would know exactly what needed to be done each and every day. Why does this matter?
Setting Goals Enables You To Measure Success
You can’t know if you were successful at something unless you can measure your success. You can’t measure success if you don’t have anything to measure. By setting goals, you can measure whether or not those goals were met. If they were, you’re on the correct path.
Let’s get back to blogging. How would we set goals for any particular day of blogging? Well, that would depend on the vision of the blog that I referred to above. If you’ve decided that your blog is about auto racing and the vision you’ve established for the blog is to inform your readers about the history, current events and future path of auto racing, you might set short term goals like this:
Monday: Find all auto racing news from the weekend and compile a summary to post.
Wednesday: Gather all auto racing events that are occurring presently and discuss them in a post.
Friday: Gather all auto racing events that are planned to occur over the weekend and compile the information in a post.
Now, this is a simplistic view of what specific goals might be for any blog, but this type of thing certainly would clarify what needs to get done. If an author was able to follow a schedule for this, they would know whether or not they were achieving their goals.
Now, whether or not these goals are fulfilling the vision of the blog remains to be seen. Is traffic increasing? Is user engagement picking up? Are newsletter subscriptions growing? The success of these types of overarching goals depend on the quality and necessity of your content. The big question is: do your posts matter and does anyone care?
The way to determine if your blog is of value is to reduce what you plan on doing to reader need. If you research your market and find that there’s a hole in it that can be filled by your writing, then you’re in good shape. You can set your daily goals to meet that need. As time progresses, you can tweak the short term goals to align more with what your readers want.
When defining a vision for a blog, it’s important to dig deep to the real reason you want to launch it. Many beginning bloggers don’t have a clear reason, and therefore end up with a muddled vision. It’s not likely that you want to “create the best blog around” or to “bring your readers information that’s worth reading.” It’s more likely that you want to make money blogging. The way to do that is to build an audience by writing posts that visitors what to read, to grow a mailing list by enticing readers to join and to increase reader engagement by offering a place to comment on posts and replying to those comments in a timely fashion. If you’re able to grow an audience, you’ll surely find a way to monetize the blog. But the most critical aspect to stay aware of is what the true purpose of the blog is. If it’s to make money, that’s fine.
How To Define Goals For Any Blog
As you may have noticed, the short term goals I outlined above won’t really work well for a complex blog that’s hoping to attract a high volume of readers. This is because I simply listed those goals without taking much into consideration. Believe it or not, there really is a structured way to discover and record what a particular blog’s goals might be – both for the short term and the long term. For the explanation and examples I’m going to talk about below, we’ll keep the same auto racing blog we worked with above.
How Does a Blogger Keep Track of Goals?
The trick here is to write them down. Not only does this have an organizational aspect to it, it also has a psychological one. When someone “writes something down,” they, more than likely, commit to it. It becomes official. And when it comes to recording goals for a blog, a simple piece of paper will do. Just be sure to isolate the sections for “Blog Vision” and “Blog Goals” from each other. While they’re kept separate from each other on paper, it’s important to remember that both of these concepts rely on one another going forward.
The Best Way To Identify a Blog’s Goals
If you think back to your college or high school days, you may recall a term called, “brainstorming.” Brainstorming is when people, and in this case, stakeholders, toss out ideas that are free from criticism. The idea behind this type of activity, as it relates to gathering goals for a blog, is to unearth the reason for being and methods and tools that may help lead to success.
One of the primary questions you need to answer during your brainstorming session is how your blog will affect your readers and your market at large. If you remember what a blog truly is at its essence (a medium of communication), you’ll arrive at what you’re after rather quickly. But remember, stay fluid during this effort.
If you were launching a blog today, ask yourself:
1. What can your website audience learn from your content?
2. How does what they actually learn compare to what they wanted to learn?
3. How can you better educate yourself based off of what you’ve learned from your visitors?
4. What is it that you can offer to the public and how can you get more involved?
5. How to you create the “go to” blog in your chosen market?
Now, I’m going to go over the process of how to correctly answer each one of these questions below. Be sure to follow carefully, because there’s a process in action here.
If we take a look at the very first question above, regarding what your audience can learn from your content, we can say that they’ll be kept up to date on the events in the auto racing industry that have happened, are happening and that will happen in the not so distant future. With that answer in mind, we need to think about how offering this type of content aligns with your blog’s vision of growth and eventual monetization. If we can conclude that by giving your audience what they’re looking for as it relates to quality and up-to-date news regarding auto racing, we can identify your first blogging goal:
1. Become established as the primary provider of current information surrounding the auto racing industry.
Now, if we look at the second question regarding the relationship between what your visitors actually learn and what they visited you to learn, we can conclude that the question can’t be answered yet. Since you haven’t exactly written much content at the time of goal discovery, you don’t have any data on what visitors are looking for. Luckily, this conclusion offers a very specific goal. That goal is to:
2. Collect user data on visit intent, whether it be from direct emails, outside forums, traffic statics and other sources, to become familiar with what a particular user has in mind when they land on one of your web pages. You can base future posts off of this information.
Let’s look at the third question from above. What can you learn from your visitors and how can you educate yourself from that knowledge? If you already know, based on previous research, that the types of visitors you’re seeking love to tell stories about their adventures at the races, a goal for the blog might be:
3. Make a comment section available for blog visitors to share experiences with other readers. This will promote a “community” aspect on your blog and will keep your posts “sticky” with readers coming back for more. Also, from the visitor comments, you’ll become educated on how your visitors perceive auto racing and will enable you to write more thoughtful posts in the future.
If we look at the fourth question from above about what you can offer the public and how you can get more involved, you might say that since you have deep knowledge of auto racing, you can offer the most accurate commentary in the industry. You also might have a question/answer section on the blog, which will help build trust with your audience. This might lead to the following goal:
4. Keep your information accuracy high by staying involved with the industry and be sure to learn something new every day. Also, keep close contact with your visitors so they’ll return to your blog and consider it fresh and up to date.
If you ask yourself how you can shape your blog to become a “go-to” resource in the auto racing world, I think you’ve already answered this question. By keeping your previous goals in mind, your visitors should regard your blog as a resource they appreciate and value. So for this last goal, you might want to:
5. Stay active with your blogging schedule and be sure to continue to offer consistent and thoughtful posts that visitors enjoy engaging with.
With the above example goals, you should have the knowledge and framework necessary to define your own blog’s goals. Because there truly are no two blogs alike, each set of goals may be different. Just remember, while dealing with this type of project, it’s not the actual goals you come up with that matter as much as the framework for the goals you create. You can always adjust and tune your goals as time goes by, based off the framework you create today.
Measuring Your Blog’s Future
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about blogging, it’s that setting up and launching a blog with the expectation of visitors from search engines today is much different than it was just a few years ago. In the past, I could set up my infrastructure, add content I felt visitors wanted to read and watch the traffic flow in. It was much more about just content back then. While getting mild traffic wasn’t very difficult in those days, getting big traffic was much more of a challenge. In order to accomplish that, you needed a brand people recognized.
Today, getting even minor traffic is a difficult. In order to attract these types of visitors, you need to work hard and publish content people truly appreciate. Search engines no longer give gifts. They want you to earn what they give you.
With this in mind, I recommend that you treat the first year of your blog’s life like you would an experiment. As an experiment, you would create, feed, nurture, observe, monitor and evaluate your web property. It’s the data you capture from your blog’s first year that you can use for the rest of its life.
In the final section of this post, I’m going to discuss some milestones and measurements you can make during the beginning of your blog’s, hopefully, long and happy existence. Some measurements might include visitor traffic, engagement and readership. It’ll be sort of like creating a five year plan for your life, but it’ll only cover one year and it’ll be for your blog. And like the goals we identified and set above, the milestones and measurements you create for the first year of your blog can be used as measurements of success. I’ll cover some of these milestones below.
Launch – This is likely the most exciting time of your blog’s existence. It’s at this point that you’ll most want to publicize and build interest in your site. Do you have friends who are bloggers? Tell them about it. Do you have a large social media following? Tell them too. Share the launch with related publications. People are always looking for fodder for their own blogs and websites, so share your blog’s value and upcoming plans with them. They may just include you in something they share with others.
2 Months – Hopefully, by the two month mark, you’ve been writing quality content that is easily shareable with those who might want to consume it. It’s this type of content that search engines like to gobble up and return to users once all the search related factors on your blog are in sync. Be sure that your blog has all the necessary plugins and configurations set for proper search engine indexing. Remember, it’s likely that you’ll be getting little to no direct search engine traffic at this point. That’s not important. Search engines have algorithms that restrict brand new properties from showing in results. What is important is that your content is churning in other ways. Whether it be through social media channels or newsletter subscriptions. If you pretend that search engines don’t even exist at the two month mark, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
4 Months – It’s at this point that you’ll want to begin promoting your content with social media in earnest. You’ll likely have written enough posts to sustain some targeted traffic, so it’s time to show it off. Make a goal for yourself. Perhaps you’d like to receive 50 visits via social media for a specific frame of time. At this point, it’s also important to review what you’re writing. What type of response is it getting? Is one type of content being received better than another? If so, that type of content is what you should be focusing on.
6 Months – At six months, you want to take a step back and admire all your hard work. You’ll also want to take note of what’s worked and what hasn’t. Have you written in a particular style or with a particular structure that your readers appreciate? If so, remember the success of those cases and use them for future posts.
9 – 12 Months – By this point, you should have earned yourself a small following for your blog. If so, take note of how many visitors there are, how much your blog has been mentioned on social media and how many newsletter signups you’ve gathered. It’s all about data. You want to record as much as you can to work from so you can create future goals to achieve. It’s also about creating a customizable and measurable framework to look back on and measure against in years to come.
Like I mentioned above, the first year for any blog is mostly about creating the content that’s going to rank long down the road. There’s not much you can do about search engine traffic at this point, so it’s better to focus on writing quality posts and articles. Later on, if you’ve done your job well, the traffic will begin to flow.
If you’re interested in more tips on how to effectively launch a blog, please take a look at our blogging category above. Also, be sure to sign up for our newsletter and we’ll send each and every post directly to your inbox!