Starting a blog is a romantic idea.  Blogging sounds wonderful; so many people are doing it and people like me, who work with small businesses, are encouraging clients to “get4 Questions to answer before you blog blogging.”  People revel in the design process of a blog; they tell everyone they’re starting a blog.  But often people don’t put a lot of time and effort into planning for the blog.  That’s not the romantic part.  Once your blog is up and ready to go, so many are tempted to jump in and begin spilling all their thoughts out into the Internet world for everyone to read and marvel at.  All I can say to that is…Don’t do it!  When you’re in your planning stage, before you write even one word, answer the following questions (for the most part this is standard Marketing 101):

1.  Why are you blogging?  The “why” is something that has to be asked in every aspect of your marketing program, and blogging is no exception.  Are you blogging to establish yourself as an expert?  Attract traffic?  Make sales?  Share your opinions? Choose one or two primary goals to keep in mind, and write each and every post with those goals at the forefront.

2.  How often are you willing to blog… not just next week, but next month and next year?  It’s common to start out with a bang, declaring to everyone that you’re intent on blogging every day for the rest of your natural-born life. You’re all revved up to take the blogging world by storm, and you do it…for a month.  Then you start getting distracted by other things.  Your posts start dwindling, from every day, to five days a week, to three days a week, until you’re struggling to update once or twice a week.  (I know this as I have always wanted to blog just once a week and have found that next to impossible as work and life get in the way.)  This is no good! Pick a schedule you can stick with for the long haul.  If you’re able to post more than that, “bank” some posts for the future so you have some in the can for when time is tight or you want to take a vacation.  (Something I’m working on currently ~ certainly easier said than done!)

3.  Who is your audience, who are you talking with?  Are you writing to consumers, prospects, potential partners, other people in your niche?  Depending on your audience, you will have a different “spin” on your blog posts. While you can have more than one group reading your blog, know who your primary reader is, and direct your posts to that person.

4.  What do you want to write about?  If you’re passionate about your niche you’ll have plenty of ideas initially to blog about.  If you write about small business marketing for example, you could write about news, personal challenges, debunk myths, expert advice, products, or a combination of all of above.  It’s really important that you figure out your unique spin based on your business’s unique selling proposition and your blog goals.

Blogging Breakthrough Tip – Once you’ve answered these four questions, create a list of at least twenty blog post ideas.  (This is not an original idea, I’ve read this exact same thing many times over the past couple of years, and it is something you must do to get your blog going and keep your blog going!)  If you can’t come up with at least 20, you might be a tad too focused and might want to widen your scope a bit to ensure you have plenty of material to write about.

You never know where you’ll come across great blogging ideas.  I keep a pad by my desk and keep a running list.  When I’m out and about I type ideas into my phone.  As long as you keep your eyes and ears open, you’ll find plenty to blog about.

What do you think?  Feel free to share your thoughts below!