Monday, August 3, 2009

5 Steps for Planning the Direction of Your Blog in 2009

The point of the questions was not to engage in a navel gazing exercise but to look back with the objective of identifying how a blog has been performing in order to improve it moving forward. Today I want to suggest a process for thinking about the future of your blog. I’m not sure that this process appears exactly like this in any strategic thinking books or teaching but it is the process that I use when I periodically look at how my blogs and business is going. Here’s a quick visual with some questions to explain each step in the process:

Hopefully the diagram speaks largely for itself but let me extrapolate slightly on each step.

Step 1 - Define your Mission

This is fairly big picture stuff and for me actually goes wider than just why I blog and more fits with my overall life mission. I guess it’s about looking at your overall purpose and direction - what you want to achieve etc. Having this firm in your mind then enables you to work out how blogging fits into that overall purpose.

Step 2 - Paint a Picture of Your Vision

This is still pretty long term and looks beyond the coming year to where you want to eventually take your blog. It’s a picture of a reasonably distant future. Dare to dream a little and think big in this stage.

Step 3 - Make Goals

Now we’re drilling down into the year ahead. Where do you want to be at the end of 2009? Hopefully it’ll be somewhere towards your ‘Vision’ and have helped you to accomplish some of your ‘mission’ - but what will your blog look like, be doing and have achieved this time next year? Dare to think big but keep in mind that it needs to be achievable. You don’t need to have done everything in your vision in 12 months - these goals are stepping stones to the eventual goals.

Step 4 - Devise a Strategy

What are you going to need to DO to get to your goals? Usually this means some kind of ‘change’ in your approach. Do you need to blog more, start a new blog, change your topic slightly, hire a writer, network with other bloggers more, start using a new method for promoting your blog, follow what others are writing more, build community engagement, redesign your blog etc? Think about strategies across the different activities of blogging that will take you closer to your goals.

Step 5 - Set out an Action Plan

Most people set ‘resolutions’ in their lives (and for their blogs) that are quite ‘general’ and wishy washy in nature. ‘I’m going to lose weight’, or ‘I’m going to find a girlfriend’. While these resolutions are great they are often not achieved simply because while a decision is made to do something - the person making the decision puts no actual plan in place for ‘how’ they’ll do it. The same is true for thinking strategically about your blog. ‘I’m going to get more traffic in 2009′ is a great goal - but what are you doing to specifically focus on DOING to get that traffic. Your action plan should be made up of very concrete tasks that you’ll do in the coming months. I will write 5 posts a week - I will email 7 readers each week - I will leave 1 comment per day on another blog in my niche - I will write a guest post for another blogger each month - I will run a competition on my blog in June.

The above 5 steps are the way I approach planning on my blogs (in fact it is how I do it in other areas of my life also). I actually do this for each of my blogs. The mission generally is much the same for each one and at times there are similarities in other steps.

This process will not be for everyone but I think can make a useful starting point for thinking about your blog in 2009. Some personality types will find it easier than others to think this way - actually for me it is not a natural way of thinking - I’m quite impulsive and this is a real effort to do. You might find some steps in the process more natural and quicker to complete than others but thinking things through from the big picture right down to specific tasks will hopefully help you to not only plan but make the changes you need to make in order to achieve your dreams.

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