Purpose. Brand. Audience. Apparently, anyone thinking of starting a blog should consider these three issues first. Why do you want to start a blog? What “identity” do you want to project? Who is your target audience? And what defines success in blogging, anyway? Is “success” relevant if you’re not trying to make money at it? Hmm. I never thought of any of these questions, at least not consciously. Maybe that’s why I feel like it’s time to set myself some blogging goals. In going online to find some guidance, I read that many people stop blogging at about the 9-month mark. Funny about that, my first blog was exactly 9 months ago today and now here I am, 102 blogs later, thinking about what my blog should be when it grows up.
I have a fair amount of professional experience in goal setting through strategic planning, and I am excellent at writing to-do lists and checking things off my lists in my personal life. My house is filled with lists! Some goal setting is easy: setting goals for running is always a positive exercise – unless you’re injured – because once you identify a target race everything else falls into place. I’m pretty good at other aspects of my life too insofar as where I expect to be in 3-5 years’ time; even if I’m wrong I will at least come up with something and move forward until it’s obvious I should take a turn or just stop. But blogging has me stumped.
What do I see my blog becoming in another year? 3 years? 5 years?? I simply can’t answer that question, except for wanting it to be something people enjoy when they stop by. [I can just imagine people reading this and thinking, “OMG, she’s not still going to be writing this stuff for another 3 years, is she? I don’t have to keep reading it, do I?!”] What about sense of purpose? I got started after hearing almost everyone I met at some writing workshops talk about how important it is to have a blog; it helps you develop a discipline for everyday writing and provides you with an online presence in the event that at some point you might want to try to be published. Without giving it a lot more thought, and being caught up in the excitement of writing and illustrating my first Robby Robin stories, I took the plunge. I also thought that it would be a good opportunity to share some of the lessons I’d learned from starting long distance running at an advanced age. It seemed simple enough.
One of my sons said right off the bat that I should stick to one topic, that a blog works better with a clear focus. If I had two topics, I should consider two blogs. Needless to say, I didn’t follow his advice. If I had, I’d have to have started several other blogs subsequently. However, I do see his point. Having clarity of focus speaks not only to purpose but also to target audience. So I find myself with no clear idea of why I should continue to write blog posts, no clear idea of who I think I’m targeting besides “anyone who might be interested”, and no clear sense of what my personal brand is. My planning process is obviously going nowhere fast!
In lieu of a vision and clear goals for my blog, I’m going to settle on the following guiding principles to steer the next 9 months:
- I really enjoy having this avenue for exploring and expressing thoughts and reflections; for now that’s a good enough reason why.
- I will continue to give thought to what my personal (online) brand is or should be. What a concept!
- I will give more thought to who my target audience really should be. There is no doubt that people who are attracted to reading about running and yoga aren’t necessarily interested in farming or business, and vice versa. Now there’s an interesting challenge.
I know that few people ever reply to questions that are posed at the conclusion of blog posts, but if anyone has any suggestions that will help further my quest to write a blog people are glad they took the time to read, please fire them along.
Let the next 9 months begin!