If your goals for your blog include growing your audience, developing an online platform to establish yourself as an expert in your field, or making money, then you need to start thinking strategically and not tactically or those goals will always remain just out of reach.
There is a reason why companies create marketing plans — because it takes a broader vision than the day-to-day activities to meet your bigger goals. You need your own strategic vision and plan for your blog, too. After all, if your blogging goals include one of those listed in the preceding paragraph, your blog is akin to a mini-business. It’s time to start thinking like a business owner.
How do you blog strategically rather than tactically? The first step is to understand what strategy is as opposed to tactics when it comes to marketing.
Strategy is the long term plan or direction you develop for your blog that clearly defines your end goals and what it will take for you to get there.
Tactics are the specific actions you will take to drive your blog along the path of that strategy and reach your goals.
Most marketing plans include both short-term and long-term goals, and therefore, some of the tactics you implement to drive your blog forward in the direction you want it to go will be tactics that elicit immediate responses while others will support your long-term goals and ensure you’re heading in the right direction to reach those goals.
For example, tactics might include holding a blog contest to boost short-term visitors. However, blog contests can also support your long-term blogging goals because some of those visitors who come to your blog to enter a contest might like what they see in your content and come back again. Alternately, participating in conversations on Twitter related to your blog’s topic is primarily a marketing tactic intended to indirectly boost traffic to your blog as a result of the relationships you build. In other words, Twitter activities overall are a strategic, long-term marketing initiative, but specific tweets can be short-term tactics. You’re unlikely to see big changes in your blog’s traffic overnight when you tweet, but in time, your blog traffic will grow organically from those efforts.
So how do you start blogging strategically rather than tactically? Following are five basic steps to get you thinking and acting in the right direction:
1. Set your long-term blogging goals.
Believe it or not, many bloggers have not put their long term blogging goals down in writing. Quantify those goals. For example, in 2 years you might have a goal to have a specific number of page views on your blog per month. Now you have something to work toward and you can implement tactics, measure your success, and make changes to those tactics to reach that goal. Be specific and realistic when you set your goals.
2. Think long-term with every blog post you publish.
Of course there will be days when you won’t be able to publish an amazing blog post. However, you do need to think before you write each day. Ask yourself how the post you’re about to write will fit into your long-term blogging strategy.
3. Promote each blog post accordingly to position yourself to meet your goals.
Create an integrated marketing plan where all of your efforts to promote your blog work together to reach your long-term blogging goals. When you publish a post, think about how you can promote that post to move you closer to reaching your goals. Is this post worthy of social bookmarking? Can I start a separate conversation about the post on Facebook? Should I share this post in a LinkedIn group? Find the best fit and pursue it.
4. Stick to the 80-20 rule of marketing.
The 80-20 rule of marketing states that 80% of your business comes from just 20% of your customers. You can switch that up and make it apply to blog promotion by ensuring at least 80% of your online participation across the social web is not self-promotional and no more than 20% is self-promotional. By focusing on building relationships, you’ll achieve greater success in the long-term. That’s because your online connections will help you share your content, talk about your blog, and more. The stronger those relationships become and the more relationships you build with online influencers, the more long-term blogging success you’ll achieve. That organic, indirect growth in traffic to your blog is worth far more strategically than short-term traffic bursts.
5. Don’t let the day-to-day grind deter you from your long-term blogging goals and strategy.
I think all bloggers are guilty of getting caught up in the daily grind, comments from particularly vociferous visitors who might not have the same vision for your blog or outlook on your blog’s topic as you do, and pressure to think and write a certain way. If you see yourself falling into that trap, take a few days off to regroup. Pull out your written long-term blog goals that you created in #1 above, and remind yourself why you started your blog in the first place and what you want to achieve from all of your time and efforts. Tweaking your goals and strategy is perfectly fine when warranted. However, always think strategically and long-term rather than being swayed by short-term occurrences or bumps in the road.
So what are you waiting for? Go write down your blogging goals and start putting together your strategy to get there!