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How to Plan Your Blog Without A Plan

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No blogging plan? No problem?

I expected at least one WordCamp session to focus on how to plan your blog.

I was in for a shock!

The very first session I attended at WordCamp Atlanta, a two-day WordPress conference designed for bloggers, designers and developers, featured speaker Wade Kwon, a journalist and blogger behind Magic City Post, a website focusing on Birmingham, Alabama (which is nicknamed the “Magic City”).

Kwon began with a very important truth everyone who has ever had a blog already knows:

You cannot predict what will do well.

Makes sense. If we could always predict which posts would “pop” with readers, every post would.

Wade’s suggests focusing on Three Bs:

  1. Don’t Have a Plan
  2. Cover Everything
  3. Measure, Measure, Measure

I started this blog without a firm plan in place for two primary reasons. First, I feared that the more structured I tried to make it, the less fun it’d be. I felt I should get in there and try my best to make it work, learn along the way and keep going. The second reason, however, was that I wasn’t entirely sure that I would want to keep it going once the initial newness wore off the blogging candy. I had a healthy dose of skepticism about those who were blogging and claiming to enjoy it so much. So the less planning involved, I thought, the more I’d like it for the few months I was willing to actually put effort into it.

I also rejected the idea of a niche. Not because I think niches are bad, but because I wasn’t sure what topics I’d want to commit to writing about longterm, and I didn’t want to choose a topic that might completely run out of steam after about six weeks. A wider range of topics seemed more fun, and more likely to offer readers something they were interested in. Diversity is good.

So I had the first two down pat. Not having a plan was my plan. No niche, no posting schedule, no writing schedule.

I didn’t measure, measure, measure. That came much later.

My primary method of measurement initially was reader comments alone. But as we know, many readers won’t comment unless they are really motivated.

Google Analytics is your best blogging friend. You can measure not only how your blog is doing day to day, but over longer periods of time. You can also measure which posts (as well as pages, categories and tags) get the most views. This can help you find out what’s popular with the audience you’re building, so you know what to do more of.

You build momentum when you take topics that score the best, then hit them hard.

Still skeptical? Newspaper readers voted Kwon’s Magic City Post the Best Website of Birmingham in the local newspaper after only one year. Yeah, I’d call that a success story.

Did you go into blogging with a plan, or did you wing it from the start as I did?

 

7 Comments

  • Wade Kwon says:

    Patrick, thanks for coming to my session and passing along the tips! Great job.

  • profkrg says:

    Define plan… ;)

  • Roezer says:

    Hello Patrick, 
    I won’t exactly say I started blogging for fun. I needed something to get myself thinking in the English language again, I had been living in Germany and Holland and besides the languages I developed the mentalities which sometimes shocked people who thought they knew me it was quite mind boggling to them I guess. After a while I knew that I loved blogging but got too caught up in the whole having a niche which often caused bloggers block. I do have a niche blog now but it’s a bit odd I tried writing about technology for a while but realised that by the time you have completed a post on a smartphone that everyone wants there is a new one out. So I needed a niche with a more long term content duration, Luckily I found it as I now blog about music but I am trying a different approach to writing about music because most blogs that talk about this topic will have reviews and promote the overrated mass media junk that is being forced upon us all. I try to stick with the alternative listener market I guess you could call it a very long tail niche but I am still leaning to write about it effectively to attract more readers, But just because you can blog about one thing does not necessarily mean that you can easily write about another as you need to go at new blogs with a whole new frame of mind.

    Bloggers need to think like talkers would you listen to a guy who talks about chainsaw chains all day and would you like to be that guy if so I think the niche is open. If you would like to be more personal with your blogging then I suggest that you think of blogging as a thing you do for fun and if you make money from it well then it’s really fun, But never start a blog just to make money from it as you will only make the hosting costs if you are lucky. When you have a few post’s ranking you will get some ideas from your keywords in Google Analytic’s but don’t rely on just your ranking keywords for inspirational source’s for content ideas. Read other blogs connect with like mind people and enjoy your blogging be it planned or unfocused and random blogging is all about what kind of person you are and self exploration the more you write about the more you learn about yourself but it’s hard sometimes and can make you feel like nothing, But it can also make you feel outright fantastic when you look at your stats that’s why I blog not for the money or fame just so I can read all those numbers in my stats If they are planned numbers it’s even better but either way they are good to look at.

  • netster23 says:

    I have no plan in my blogging world. I think I need to start calling it as blogging career so I can be really focus on things I want to develop, as if people are paying you salary and that you should not fail. I need to check Kwon out to find out what makes him a superstar and maybe I can learn a thing or two or more to be successful. cheers!

  • dadblunders says:

    Patrick,
    I began my blogging journey on tumblr. It was through tumblr I decided to venture out into the blogging community. Beginning on tumblr gave me an idea about what was expected and needed in blogging, but it did not prepare me for all the reading I would being doing. 
    I am constantly reading other blogs, learning about WordPress and looking for ideas. There are so many things that bloggers need to know that it is a never ending learning curve. 
    I work hard to understand that not everything works or will work on my blog. I will give things an opportunity to work and if I am not finding any success with them I will move on. I think blogging is about taking risks but also learning about what works and sticking with it.
    Aaron Brinker aka DadBlunders

  • patricksplace says:

    WadeOnTweets Thanks, Wade! I appreciate it!

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