If you are about to start a new blog it is important to spend some up front figuring out what your goals are as that will guide every aspect of how you run your blog. One person running a business blog is likely to do things very differently from somebody writing a political blog for example.
It doesn’t matter if you are starting a new blog from scratch or if you already have one; it’s always a good idea to think about your blog direction periodically.
Develop a Profile Of Your Target Audience
Think about who your target audience is for your blog. Are they male / female? What is their income? Are they married? Have children? Are they tech-savvy?
A young tech-savvy male is far more likely to Digg your posts than a mom who doesn’t even know what RSS is for instance. Your audience will respond differently to monetization also. The same tech-savvy male is much less likely to click an ad than the mom.
Is your target audience somebody who is likely to carefully read through your posts in detail trying to glean as much information as possible (older crowd for instance) or are they a “give-it-to-me-quick” kind of person? These factors will affect your content and writing style. The former may respond well to in-depth how-to posts whereas the latter will likely prefer quick, easily-scannable lists.
Map Out Your Blog Monetization
If you intend to generate a revenue from your blog you need to be thinking about how to monetize it from the start. For example, a popular method is to sell private advertising space but you can’t do that if the design of your blog does not have prominent ad spots so this is something you need to think about before settling on a design or blog theme.
If you are promoting something that is already in existence such as your services, or an existing business then you will want to make sure that you prominently work your promotional content into your blog seamlessly.
Another popular strategy that bloggers use is to place contextual ads such as AdSense. Even this requires some thought – should you place them straight away or wait until you have more traffic?
My take on that subject is that if you intend to blog for money then you should start placing those ads right from the start. This goves you a chance to experiment with them while your traffic is still low and what also happens is that your readers come to expect to see ads so they don’t resist them. Putting ads on later on can be met with some hostility from regular readers who object to you suddenly trying to make money!
Another benefit to placing ads straight away is that the audience that you build will often contain your future advertisers but they won’t think to advertise with you if you’re not in the habit of having ads on your blog. Start as you mean to go on!
Think About Your Brand
One very important thing about branding is that it is very difficult to change later on. Right from the start think about what image you are trying to project. Are you promoting yourself as a person in your blog or are you promoting your blog name as a brand within itself (think Lifehacker, TechCrunch, BoingBoing)? If you are promoting yourself then think about graphics – do you have a standard avatar for yourself that you can use? Make sure you do because when you get social media right that avatar gets *everywhere*!
Moving In A New Direction With An Existing Blog?
Sometimes people start blogs and only some months later when they have been writing it for a while do they really figure out the direction they want to go with it. If you already have a blog then take some time to think about the above factors in relation to your existing blog and determine whether or not you need to chance direction in any area.
Don’t be afraid to change something. It is better to gradually implement changes to shift into a new direction than to blindly continue in a direction that is no longer working for you.
Image by TevaD
Amarok playing and displaying the Context Tab (bottom half)