For the last two months during #Blogchat we’ve had one week where we reviewed blogs from #Blogchat participants. The most common complaint about the 7 blogs we’ve reviewed so far is ‘I don’t know what the blog’s focus is’. This is a BIG problem for a lot of bloggers, but it’s one you need to overcome if you want to truly have a successful blog. Here’s 5 steps to getting you past this roadblock:
1 – Figure out who you are writing for. It all starts here. Once you figure out who you are writing for, then your content strategy to reach that audience will fall into place. For example, I am writing this blog for companies that want to learn more about how they can successfully use social media to connect with their customers. That’s my primary audience.
Your primary audience could be potential employers, potential clients, or your friends and family. But whoever it is, YOU need to figure it out, because if you don’t know who you are writing for, you can best bet that your readers won’t. And you need to pick something more concrete than ‘people that want to read my stuff’.
2 – Pick your title and tagline. After you’ve decided who you are writing for, then look at your blog’s title and tagline. You might not be able to do much with the title, but your tagline should explain exactly what your blog is about. Note that mine is ‘What are you doing? Helping companies understand the ‘social’ part of social media.’ That tells them exactly what they are getting into.
3 – Use the 3-second rule. If someone that doesn’t know you arrives on your blog, how long will it take them to figure out what the blog is about? If it takes longer than 3 seconds, assume they will leave. This again, is where the tagline can really help you, because when we arrive at a new blog, we immediately look for the blog’s title/tagline, and then any pictures. If we are confused by the title/tagline, and don’t see any pictures of the blogger, we will probably leave.
4 – Keep your sidebars clean. On a lot of the blogs we’ve reviewed so far, the sidebars have been a hot mess. In fact on some, the fancy widgets etc are actually throwing off the formatting of the entire blog.
When it comes to the sidebars, think about how the content/information/widgets you put there will help you reach your blog’s goals. You will have a TON of options for adding stuff to the sidebar(s), but that doesn’t mean you should. Less is often more when it comes to sidebars. Remember, the content is the star of the blog, don’t make it take a backseat to flashy widgets and such on the sidebar.
5 – Be careful with ads on your blog. A lot of bloggers think that they aren’t a ‘pro’ blogger until they have ads on their blog. Or that they won’t be viewed as being a ‘serious’ blogger without ads. Horse-hockey, ads take up space that could be given to content that could help your readers. Period, so don’t make that tradeoff unless those ads are worth your time, and that of your readers. Remember, the purpose of ads on a blog is to ultimately ENHANCE the experience of the blogger AND the reader. If the ads aren’t making you any money, and aren’t relevant to the reader, then they are a total waste of time. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have ads on your blog, but I am saying you should only keep them if they make sense for both you and your readers.
So there are 5 quick tips for bringing clarity and focus to your blogging efforts. If you only follow one, PLEASE pay attention to #1 and decide who you are blogging for. Everything else will flow from that.
Those of you that had your blog reviewed at #Blogchat, what am I missing? Or what advice do you have for someone looking to add focus and clarity to their blog?