March 7, 2008

Do You Have a Blog Content Strategy?

published this at 8:38 am

Michael Martine offered to help me out while I was in Austin. He actually sent more than one idea for a high-value guest post. This one on content strategy appeals to the editor in me and also to the business strategist.

Do You Have a Blog Content Strategy?

by Michael Martine

A content strategy is a plan for how you will create content for your blog. Having a content strategy and following it will accelerate your blog’s growth. In this article, I’m going to explain how to develop and use a blog content strategy so you can get the best results. This is something that I have done with demonstrable success, so you can, too.

Over the past few years, as blogs have become more popular, a few best practices have evolved, and we see them repeated endlessly in all the metablogs out there: be passionate, create compelling content, and know your audience. But somewhere between reading that, nodding our heads sagely, and hitting publish, we lost our way.

Now, I can’t help you with passion. Either you have it or you don’t, and if you don’t, you are simply doing the wrong thing. Seriously, do yourself and everyone a favor and just quit blogging. But as far as the other two go, well, that’s where a blog content strategy comes in. A blog content strategy helps you channel your passion so that you get the results you want without first burning up all the fuel in your fire. Following a blog content strategy helps you accomplish what other bloggers have trouble with, like coming up with topics to blog about, and getting more traffic, comments, and subscribers.

A blog content strategy is not complicated. It only has two parts:

  1. Knowing the purpose of the blog, and making sure everything about the blog fulfills that purpose
  2. Knowing the needs of your audience, and creating content that meets those needs while fulfilling the blog’s purpose

Know the purpose of your blog

If I asked you right now point blank: what is the purpose of your blog, could you answer me right away? Most can’t. Your blog needs to have a purpose. It needs to have “true north” on its compass. The purpose of your blog is what you want to accomplish with it from the perspective of meeting your needs. I can use my own blog as an example: the purpose of Remarkablogger is to acquire new clients for my blog consulting and coaching business. Now, if you’re thinking that sounds a little selfish, hold on, because we haven’t discussed the second part of a blog content strategy, yet. One way to get to the purpose of your blog if you’re not sure is to ask yourself why you started the blog in the first place.

One problem with strategies and plans is that people keep them only in their heads. You think you understand it and know it, but it’s probably all foggy and vague. That’s why when asked point blank, you stammer. The solution is to write it down. The act of writing forces us to be clear in our own thinking because we have to make it clear for others. This is invaluable. Write it down and keep rewriting it until it’s clear.

Make sure the blog fulfills its purpose

This is part design strategy as well as content strategy (nothing is ever in its own little box in blogging!). Just like when you wrote papers in school and your professor said that everything in the paper should support the thesis statement, otherwise get rid of it, so it is with your blog. Whatever doesn’t serve the purpose goes buh-bye. Again, using my own blog as an example, I clearly and unmistakably display that I offer services and am for hire. My content is often about the work I do for clients that has brought them success.

Know the needs of your audience

The biggest mistake you’re probably making is that you think your audience is like you. If you are running a hobby blog or an internet marketing blog, they may be. But if you are running a business, they are not. This creates a huge blind spot for us. Here’s the secret: you define your audience by the content you create. This means you will get exactly the people you want. If you’re running a business (freelancing or small company or whatever) then you want qualified potential customers and existing customers reading your blog. By writing material that only appeals to that group and no other, you are guaranteed to get them. It may take a while, but eventually it will happen (especially through search).

Put yourself in the mind of a person who is looking for you, but doesn’t know it, yet. ;) What is your dream? What is your biggest fear? What words are you going to type into that little box on Google? Write posts that create beautiful visions of those dreams. Write posts that speak to their fears, and that present you as the solution. Stuff that you like or that you find interesting, your audience may not identify with at all. If this means you have to change what you’re blogging about, and you’re afraid you’re going to lose part of your audience, well, you’re right. You will. But they were the wrong audience anyway, so it is no loss. They will be replaced by more qualified people.

Just as you wrote down the purpose of your blog, write down the hopes, fears, and needs of the audience you want to have. Refer to this list when writing posts (especially if you feel blocked: just pick something and start freewriting).

Meet audience needs while fulfilling your blog’s purpose

By meeting the real needs of your audience with your blog’s purpose in mind, you will fulfill your blog’s purpose. So, even though it seemed selfish earlier when I said to determine purpose from your perspective, you now can see how it works out in the end. By meshing your audience’s needs with your purpose, you have a blog that can grow and, if you’re in business, help you make more money, too. Speaking for myself, ever since I started pursuing this content strategy, I have had non-stop freelance blog consulting work. Having a content strategy and following it is a win-win situation for both the blogger and the audience. It needs to be for any real success to happen.

Review

Successful and outstanding blogs need a content strategy that consists of two parts: knowing your purpose and knowing your audience. Make sure everything on your blog fulfills the purpose. Put yourself in the place of your audience and write content that meets their needs while helping you fulfill the purpose of the blog.

About the author:
Michael Martine is an official SOB and has been blogging since the year 2000. He is a blog consultant and coach. He blogs at Remarkablogger and Gateway Blogging.

Thanks, Michael!
–ME “Liz” Strauss

Filed under Blog Basics, Content, Strategy/Analysis, Successful Blog | 29 Comments »


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29 Comments to “Do You Have a Blog Content Strategy?”

  1. March 7th, 2008 at 9:14 am
    Jeremy Steele said

    I just recently (yesterday) announced a few little changes to my content strategy. Before that I pretty much wrote whatever, whenever, but now I have a schedule laid out along with the main topics I’d like to cover. Will be interesting to see if it helps at all.

  2. March 7th, 2008 at 3:00 pm
    Michael Martine, Blog Consultant said

    Some people really benefit from having an editorial calendar or a publishing schedule for their blogs. I do not use either, but I focus on what topics I cover and for whom I write. That’s more like what I meant by a content strategy, but there’s plenty of room in the idea for adding a publication schedule! :)

  3. March 7th, 2008 at 3:15 pm
    Guest Post on Liz Strauss’ Successful Blog said

    [...] Here it is: Do You Have a Blog Content Strategy? [...]

  4. March 7th, 2008 at 3:58 pm
    Patrick said

    I see the value in a content creation strategy, and I like the idea of having it be driven as a reader-focused exercise (write what your readers want to read, inform them, teach them, etc.). But do you think there is a potential danger in using a publishing schedule in starting to sound a bit stale over time? How can we use a schedule while still keeping content fresh and original?

  5. March 7th, 2008 at 8:43 pm
    rjleaman said

    In a post rich in home-truths about blogging, this line is my favourite: “you define your audience by the content you create.” It’s so simple, so obvious… and yet so seldom stated! In fact, this point never crossed my conscious mind until I read it here. If we’re not reaching the audience we set out to reach, we must not be writing the content that audience is seeking. Thanks, Michael – this is going on a post-it note on my monitor.

  6. March 7th, 2008 at 10:43 pm
    Chuck said

    This is a very basic and logical concept.

    I missed it completely in my blog.

    I havent defined my purpose. Just as you said I have a vague idea in mind but haven’t written it down on paper.

    Thanks very much for your well written and valuable post.

    Chuck Burns
    http://www.emerycharles.com

  7. March 8th, 2008 at 2:57 am
    Michael Martine, Blog Consultant said

    @ Patrick – I think there can be a danger to that, but some people look forward to regularly scheduled feature posts.

    @rjleaman – Yeah most people have it backwards. We have to remember that people come to us via search, so we write about what they’re searching for. Basic content SEO, really. I’m glad you liked that little nugget. :)

    @ Chuck – You’re very welcome. Good luck with that. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the clarity and the results of doing that. :)

  8. March 8th, 2008 at 5:12 pm
    Stephen Hopson said

    Michael:

    There you are again! It’s great to see you writing in true form.

    You’re absolutely right that if a blogger has a change of heart and decides to go after a specific vision/purpose, part of the existing community of subscribers will go away. But like you said, that’s not a bad thing because I’m fond of saying that nature abhors a vacuum. When they leave, they will be replaced by the ones you are targeting.

    Good stuff. For my blog, the purpose of my blog is to get speaking engagements. I’m not yet sure I get them directly through the blog but I know it has something to do with some of the gigs I’ve gotten. I maintain another website, a speaking website, but it’s static. I get more traffic at the blog versus the speaking website yet I seem to be doing pretty good with gigs that come through.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that none of the clients that come to me haggle over price. They find me and when I quote them a price, they accept it immediately. From time to time I’ll get a client who cannot afford me and in those situations, I say, “Maybe not now, but sometime in the future.”

    Thanks for a great article. I’ve stumbled it.

  9. March 8th, 2008 at 6:02 pm
    Michael Martine, Blog Consultant said

    @ Stephen – Thank you for the kind words and the stumble! I’m glad that you know exactly what you want to accomplish with your blog. Figuring out how to best do that is really a never-ending experiment. However, your videos are definitely a step in the right direction. Those and testimonials would be your two strongest persuaders (which you also have, if I’m not mistaken). Making it easy for people to book you is the other main thing you need to pay attention to.

  10. March 9th, 2008 at 7:05 am
    Sunday Link Love | Writer's Resource Center said

    [...] Do You Have a Blog Content Strategy? [...]

  11. March 9th, 2008 at 7:42 am
    Sunday Brunch - March 9th | Words of a Broken Mirror said

    [...] As Liz Strauss is quite busy these days at SXSW, she’s invited great bloggers to guest post. Michael Martine of Remarkablogger took this opportunity to explain why and what it takes to have a blog content strategy. [...]

  12. March 9th, 2008 at 8:46 am
    Freelance Writing Jobs » Blog Archive » Sunday Morning Link Love said

    [...] Do You Have a Blog Content Strategy at Successful Blog. [...]

  13. March 9th, 2008 at 8:36 pm
    3 Writing Resources To Help You Write Better | Learn Technology Online said

    [...] Do You Have a Blog Content Strategy? by Michael Martine at Liz’s Successful and Outstanding Bloggers If you liked this article, consider one of the following actions as a sign of a appreciation. Thanks!! Subscribe by Email [...]

  14. March 9th, 2008 at 8:59 pm
    Kelly said

    Michael,

    A great post as always. I’d like to tag along with what Stephen said in the comments. Since beginning my blog, where I try to dissect Experience Design for readers (with the professional/”selfish” purpose of creating clients), our company has far shorter discussions about pricing. The blog acts as a long, long presentation—as long as a potential client wants it to be, really—with absolutely no pressure, since folks can just lurk for months if they’d like. The calls we get are from folks who’ve already sold themselves.

    I love blogging anyway, as I can help companies who aren’t ready to engage us yet, get all my ideas out, teach, learn, and create community (that’s the unselfish part), but that aspect is sheer brilliance. Clients are more comfortable and completely in agreement before we’re halfway through the initial consultation. I wish I’d started years before I did!

    Regards,

    Kelly

  15. March 11th, 2008 at 8:15 am
    Michael Martine, Blog Consultant said

    @ Kelly -

    The blog acts as a long, long presentation—as long as a potential client wants it to be, really—with absolutely no pressure, since folks can just lurk for months if they’d like. The calls we get are from folks who’ve already sold themselves.

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! I see blogs as a long, gentle slope into the sales funnel, instead of trying to push people into it.

  16. March 11th, 2008 at 9:47 am
    Kelly said

    You bet! It’s all part of the move away from “push” marketing. I don’t tell you that you need me as much as you recognize a need and find that my firm provides the solution.

    The better content I write (meaning, the better I convey the Ideal Solution we provide), the more likely you are to find me in a search, hear about me through friends/colleagues, nod your head as you read along, click through to the business website or subscribe to the blog to continue the relationship, etc.

    To do all that you’ve got to know your own Purpose down pat.

    Until later,

    Kelly

  17. March 11th, 2008 at 7:51 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Hi Michael,
    You already know how much I think of this post.

    So many of us get overwhelmed by the information rush from the Internet, that we don’t stop to think about what we’re doing. A strategy sure helps.

    Hi Jeremy,
    I really think. It will help. Everything we measure or watch makes us more aware. :)

    Stephen,
    One of the things you do really well is to stay always focused on your purpose. I really admire that!

    Hi Kelly!
    It IS about knowing your purpose and communicating. it. I so agree with that!

    Hey RJ!
    The point is obvious, once we stop to think about it. :)
    Even more so, we get to pick who stays at our blog by what we write. :)

  18. March 12th, 2008 at 10:57 am
    Dave Navarro - Freelance Smackdown! said

    Michael –

    Thanks for the timely article. Someone was just getting on my case about this. This has helped me clarify my position a lot – and is going to help me tons over the next few weeks.

  19. March 12th, 2008 at 3:25 pm
    Michael Martine, Blog Consultant said

    @ Dave – Your’re welcome! I’m glad this is proving so useful to everybody.

  20. March 12th, 2008 at 3:31 pm
    Dave Navarro - Freelance Smackdown! said

    I even changed my blog header tagline to reflect what I’ve boiled things down to :-)

    Thanks again – off to make more rockin’ content …

  21. March 12th, 2008 at 3:41 pm
    Michael Martine, Blog Consultant said

    @ Dave – I like it! STOMP YOUR STRESS LEVELS FLAT, BABY! Right on! :)

  22. March 12th, 2008 at 9:34 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Michael and Dave!
    Yeah! Great stuff happening there. I love to see magic when it happens!!

  23. March 12th, 2008 at 9:42 pm
    Dave Navarro - When Goals Attack! said

    Me too, Liz!

    I’m already getting comments on the change I made on my blog today …

  24. March 12th, 2008 at 10:07 pm
    ME Liz Strauss said

    Dave,
    That’s the most cool thing about finding our right direction . . . we get almost immediate reinforcement. :)

    Glad to hear folks are noticing. :)

  25. March 19th, 2008 at 3:51 pm
    Overheard in the Blogosphere 17 said

    [...] Kelly Erickson A blog isn’t a business any more than a building is a company. [...]

  26. March 27th, 2008 at 6:47 pm
    Ken said

    interested post about traffic. i think is very useful

  27. February 20th, 2009 at 12:08 am
    Mini electric bikes said

    Wow, great post!

    Seriously, excellent article for folks who can’t see blog commenting as an organized process that can offer excellent returns.

  28. March 23rd, 2009 at 8:14 am
    NYANGALA MWASAFU APPOLLINARY said

    Thanks for the timely article. This will help me to improve my position a lot over the next few weeks.

  29. May 10th, 2011 at 5:56 pm
    The Big Lies About Creativity That Hold You Back - Remarkablogger said

    [...] written extensively on how to always have highly relevant topics to blog about. There’s no magic to this at [...]

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