What does your blog do? And what do you need it to do? The average lifespan of a blog is about 30 months. Many of the casualties had the best of intentions. Good writing. Good photography. Good readership. And yet, they’re gone.
If you happened to catch my first post on this topic, When Will Your Blog Grow Up?, I discussed the importance of truly understanding why you blog in the first place. Be honest with yourself – brutally honest, in fact. It’ll save you a lot of frustration. Whether it’s for personal satisfaction, chapters for a future book, or for a potential career change really doesn’t matter – what is the one singular thing that you want to achieve with your blog?
Now here comes the hard part. You still don’t have a road map. How will you achieve your goal? More importantly, how will you know if you’re making progress? Answering that second question requires two things:
1. A thorough understanding of how people tend to achieve your goal, and whether you can reasonably match those specific types of achievements.
2. A timeline – and deadlines – to measure your success in conquering the above items.
With those two tools, we’re ready to move on with some very detailed goal setting that should help you on a week to week basis. I can’t resist calling it a “road map.” I wish I had invented my own system for this “road map” of “goal setting,” but about a thousand people beat me to it, in creating the “SMART” system for corporate goal setting. SMART stands for “specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based.” Rather than read my blatherings on SMART, you can read how actual business development people explain it here, here, and here. Now take a step back. Is your blogging goal “S.M.A.R.T.?” Yeah, mine neither, although I was close.
Here’s a few steps to help us get there (me included):
1. Goals within goals within goals. I’m a “to do list” guy. I will write down something big I have to do, and then write down the 10 steps to completing it, right under that, so when it takes 3 days to complete the big task, I can at least see why it took so long. Blogging’s no different. Looking for a career change? Email some industry reps a link to your blog, every week. Considering short story publication? Find a publisher or another writer who’s willing to edit or comment on your work once per week, or even once per month. Want more “fishing report” posts? Commit to getting on the water once or twice a week.
2. Make your BEST WEEK EVER! your new average week. Look at your blog archive. What was your most memorable week? One when some people you respect decided to compliment, repost, or comment on your blog? Or one with the highest readership? Or one that contained a few posts that won awards of some type? Or one that contains some of your favorite posts, bringing back the best outdoor memories? How can you replicate that week to put your blog’s best foot forward, week after week? No answer is wrong here. Okay, very few answers are wrong here.
3. Make sure that your blog’s appearance, content, and maintenance (response to comments, etc) generally reflect your blogging goal. Your goal’s interface with the world is, after all, your blog. I’m struggling with this myself – there are certain topics on my blog that people seem to refuse to read. And yet, I enjoy posting on those topics. Hrumph. Get to know your stats intimately. Know who reads, why, and when. Is it currently aiding or impeding your progress toward your blogging goal?
4. Backup plan. What if you miss your self-imposed deadlines? What if you change your mind about your blog’s purpose? What if you need to take a month off from blogging to recharge? Be prepared, that’s what. Don’t lose sight of why you go outdoors (which is bigger than “why you blog about the outdoors”). Don’t get burnt out on blogging because your self-imposed deadlines are too tight. Let it go. Take a week off. Get some emergency guest posters. Something. Anything. But please don’t burn out and give up entirely.
I originally planned to end the post somewhere around this point, but I thought you all might appreciate some real concrete suggestions to get you started in this effort. Regardless of your blogging goal, these will probably help you………..
1. Find a blogging mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions. Don’t be afraid to copy them (not their actual work or formatting or code, mind you).
2. If your blog’s theme is time-sensitive, do something related to the blog every day. If not, you should still post (and visit social media) every week.
3. Create a bank of general blog posts to “publish later” during periods of demotivation or other non-outdoors type feelings
4. Unless you’re in the “I’m only blogging for myself” category, resist the temptation to get off-message on your blog.
Last of all, be prepared for the surprise of success – by the time you reach your goal, you may be already posturing for bigger and better things. That’s a good problem to have! Good luck!
About River Mud
Flipping boats, hooking fingers, firing duds, and showing up at the wrong boat ramp 15 minutes late since 2007. My Outdoor Blog: River Mud