Are you thinking about starting your own blog? Are you a blogging pro? Are you an ecommerce store owner wanting to add value to your site? Or maybe you want to turn your blog into a business?
Regardless of which blogger box you fall into, there’s an art — and a science — to blogging that people have started to forget.
In this digital age, there are so many bloggers (the number of bloggers has increased by 30% in the last year alone), that you need to make yourself stand out. You can just write any old trash — you need to write strong content with a purpose.
To help you with this, we’ve come up with 5 questions that you need to answer before you do anything with your blog. This could be before you start a blog entirely, or just something to bear in mind each time you sit down to write a blog post.
Read on to find out more.
Once of the first things you need to establish is what the purpose of your blog is. What are you writing about and what are you setting out to do?
The purpose of a blog can be split into a few different different types:
You can pick one style for your blog or go between a few different purposes depending on your post. The important thing is that you have an overall view of the reason you’re writing, rather than just aimlessly rambling.
The next thing that you need to think about is who your readers are. Is there a demographic that you’re aiming for? Perhaps you’re writing a mommy blog aimed at 25-40 year old single moms. Or maybe you want to start a blog giving gaming advice that’s primarily focused towards young adults. It’s up to you.
Start thinking about your audience and how you’re going to target your blog to them.
You need to think about factors like age, gender, location, relationship status — all sorts! This will almost determine what you write about too, and how you write — your tone of voice.
There are plenty of guides online for advice on tone of voice and connecting with your audience. If you’re blogging for millennials, then check out our post on 5 ways to market and connect with millennials.
The next question that you need to ask yourself is about your competition. Where does your blog fit within the blogging world? There are millions of blogs out there, so stick to sussing out the competition in your niche.
You need to do some competitor research to find out more about the bloggers you’re up against.
This means establishing who your competitors are, and analysing their blogs to see what they do well (and what they don’t do so well). You can even use their posts as a springboard to inspire your content (although you should aim to have a unique spin or angle on a topic if you’re going to do a similar one).
There are a few different ways that you can find out about your competition. Some larger websites work well as content curators — gathering sites and lists so that you don’t have to. For example, if you’re a business based in Seattle, then check out Seattle businesses on Exchange to see what others in your area are doing. Or if you’re an aspiring travel blogger, then have a look at this blogger’s post on the current top 50 travel blogs ranked by visitor traffic.
Research likes this helps you to get a feel for what type of content works well in your niche, and therefore what would be best for your blog.
Once you’ve learnt about your blogging niche — who the big voices are, who your main competitors are, and what the hot topics are — you need to think about what will make you unique.
Why will your readers care about you and your blog? How are you going to make yourself stand out?
In a world where there are so many blogs (check out this real-time tracker to see how many blog posts have been written today), it’s easy to feel that this is an impossible task. There are usually countless posts on any one topic, so how on earth could you bring something new to the table?
Don’t worry about this — focus on making your blog interesting and valuable to your readers. You can create a fresh take on a tired topic purely by writing from your perspective, in your voice.
As we mentioned at the start, your blog needs to have a purpose: to educate, entertain, promote or nurture.
Each post you write should help your reader to achieve something or benefit in some way. You need to provide your reader with clear, actionable points that they can take away from your post. How can they put words into motion and reap the rewards of your blog wisdom? Depending on your topic, this action could be finding the best beach on the West Coast, fixing their washing machine, or taking steps towards a freelancer.
There should also be a second action: what your readers can do afterwards to help you, if they found your post useful.
This could be sharing a link on social media, leaving a comment, writing a review, signing up to your mailing list, or even buying a product or service from you if you have them. You can include this in the form of a CTA (call to action) on your post.
These are the 5 key questions you need to answer before you do anything with your blog. Of course, there are plenty of others to think about (how will you promote your posts? How will you measure your success?) but we think that these are the most crucial points to focus on.
Always have these questions in the back of your mind when writing, and make sure that each post responds to these points.
Are you a blogger or thinking about becoming one? What did you think of our list of questions to answer? Let us know in the comments below.
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing business advice and entrepreneurial insights. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.