The vast majority of people start blogging out of curiosity. The idea of sharing their thoughts with others is appealing.
A small percentage of those people grow out of the curiosity stage, and decide to “Take it to the next level”.
Whether it be for money or just a bit of fame, it’s important to have a plan!
Here are a couple of suggestions for doing just that.
1. Define the Vision and the Mission
Despite the MBA fluff that you might hear out there, having a clear Vision and a Mission Statement is essential for any project or venture, blogs included. Don’t worry, you will not need to hire a consulting firm here. Just think about what you are trying to accomplish with your blog. The Vision is what you are aiming for (e.g., â€œMy blog will be the most popular one on its nicheâ€ or â€œMy blog will have the most active community around this topicâ€). You must believe in your Vision, otherwise it is just a dream.
The Mission Statement is how you will arrive there. Suppose your Vision is to have the most popular â€œMake Money Onlineâ€ blog on the Internet. The Mission Statement for such a blog could be: â€œWe provide reliable and practical tips that will help our readers make money online.â€
Remember: â€œWhen a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.â€œ
2. Set Goals
After defining the purpose of the blog you will need to lay down goals. Goals are extremely important to set priorities. They also enable you to monitor the performance and review the strategy along the way, if necessary.
First of all you will need long term, medium term and short term goals. Start with the yearly goal. Where do you want your blog to be one year from now? Then break it down: if you are to achieve that yearly goal, where will you need to be 3 months from now? This process will make it clear what you need to do on a daily basis in order to achieve your long term objectives.
Remember that goals must be both measurable and realistic. As a blogger you can use several parameters to set goals, including traffic, RSS subscribers, Technorati Rank, Google Pagerank and so on.
3. Check the Writing
Like it or not, people will judge your blog by the quality of your writing. Sure, design, promotion and other factors need to be taken into consideration, but writing quality arguably comes before them.
It is quite difficult to become a Shakespearesque writer overnight. But maybe that is not even necessary. If you are already confident on your writing skills, just hone them. Work some more on the articles to make sure they are polished and engaging.
If you are not quite confident on your writing skills, however, you will need to follow a different route. First of all, you can hire a professional writer to help you out. He can both write some of the content himself and edit yours.
If hiring someone is not an option, grab some grammar books and browse around the Internet for writing advice. At the very minimum you want to make sure that your articles do not contain grammatical or spelling mistakes.
4. Draw a Monetization Plan
You might not have the need to monetize your blog. Freelance professionals and consultants, for instance, can use a blog mainly as a marketing vehicle for their business. Most bloggers, however, will be interested in the money part. The possibility of generating a solid monthly income, in fact, is what motivates most people to take their blog to the next level in the first place.
Before cluttering your blog with multiple Adsense units and annoying Kontera text links, however, you should draw a basic plan for the monetization part.
In this plan you will need to evaluate when you will insert the ads, where you will display them, what the ads themselves will be, and how the whole monetization scheme will affect your readers.
Bear in mind that the user experience should not be compromised. Give the priority to your readers and not to some quick-money fix. The cents you will make are not worth losing a loyal visitor.
As the Italians say, â€œanche l’occhio vuole la sua parteâ€ (the eye wants his part too). You might have great content and outstanding writing skills, but if it is all wrapped with a messy design you will lose readers over the long run.
First of all the content must be readable. That means selecting good fonts, the proper line spacing and harmonic colors. Secondly, the overall template of the blog must be well structured. At this point you already know what you are aiming for with the blog, how you will monetize it and so on, so make sure that the design supports those objectives.
The bottom line is: if you are trying to build a professional, money-making blog you will probably need to hire a professional designer. And don’t point me to Steve Pavlina, he is the exception not the rule!
6. Develop a Promotion Strategy
There is a reason why companies and businesses all over the world spend billions in advertising. Now, while promoting your blog might be a little cheaper, you will still need to do it strategically.
What audience are you looking for? Where could you find them around the Internet? How could you attract them to your blog? Those are just some of the questions that you will need to ask yourself.
There are plenty of ways to promote a blog. Just think about social bookmarking sites, online forums, banners, text links, Google AdWords and so on. The key here is to experiment, analyze results, refine the strategy and repeat.
Alright, looks like you have everything carefully planned. You know what kind of blog you are aiming for, you have some goals in place, you know how to monetize and promote it, and you also know what design you need. Now what?
Now comes the hardest part, actually. Most projects do not fail due to a lack of vision or planning, they fail because there is no proper implementation of what was planned. In two words, get busy!