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:
Don’t Have a Plan
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?
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.