In college, I learnt how to write a business plan. You know those crazy boring documents that outline your business and marketing strategy. Subsequently, after launching my own company I learnt that only people who actually read these are bank managers and lawyers.
I now don't have a business plan, I don't need one. Instead I use something much more useful - these 10 questions, which I ask myself every month and which form the basis of future development and marketing at Task.fm
I believe the same approach could apply to your blog and products you release. You don't need to come up with a complex plan for your blog. Instead just ask yourself this question:
Why the hell would someone want to read my blog?
Of course if you're just blogging for fun, you don't need to do this and can stop reading my drivel. But if you want to make an income, you need to start being tough on yourself. Enter being a jerk....
Be a Jerk
When answering the above question, there is no point in being easy on yourself. You need to be tough, be a jerk.
Go back through your content. Can this information be found elsewhere? Are people just commenting on my posts because they want to plug their blogs or are they actually reading this and taking value away? Am I being a "guru" and telling people how they should operate, or should I be sharing personal experiences and real value? If I stopped blogging today would people miss my blog?
Some of those questions are hard to truly and honestly answer. No one wants to admit that their blog is dispensable.
The jury (being me, myself and I) is still out on my blog. I think I'm making improvements, just look back a few months at some of the crap I wrote back then. It doesn't matter if its not perfect atm, its an ongoing thing. If I improve my blog just 1% everyday, in a year its going to be 300% better. How many bloggers can claim that?
You Can't Always Be The Nice Guy
You can't always please everyone. Sooner or later, you're going to have to form an opinion and upset some people.
This post of mine, telling people to stop being a productivity nerd, was the most successful traffic wise on this blog. It received over 4000 visitors in the first day from Hacker News and Reddit. The comments on the post were fairly neutral and supportive, but I got hell on Hacker News. And I loved it!
It sparked a great conversation. Lots of ideas were thrown around and people were REALLY influenced. People didn't just comment "great post blah blah blah...I'm really just here because commenting is my single biggest source of traffic". Instead, they formed an opinion, argued, criticised, thanked, joked and in the end created an actual conversation.
I actually felt pleased with myself. Knowing that potentially some poor sod who had been tirelessly and anally tracking his time, like every regurgitated post had told him too, had learnt of another option. In my opinion that makes it worth it!
I challenge you to hop off the fence and write what you really believe in. That being said, don't be controversial for the sake of it. I still write plenty of "feel good" posts and many bloggers never write a controversial post, but still succeed by sharing their ideas (not other peoples).
Share Everything You Have to Offer
Why is Glen Allsop such as successful blogger? Why did he make over $3000 from his ebook the day it launched? I could give you an analysis of the marketing and branding techniques I think he uses. But really, I think its something much simpler yet ironicly harder to replicate.
Look at this post - he is genuinely sharing advice that isn't freely available online. All the numbers and earning details are there. Peeps love this type of content. I'm not saying Glen (I honestly don't now) shares every tip and trick he knows (he might), but he puts out content that you won't elsewhere.
Personally, I know I'm going to go back to that post to revisit the information in the future. I know it will come in handy, it's a valuable resource.
- Hop off the fence for some posts. If you don't believe in something, don't post it just because someone else is writing about.
- Form your unique ideas - what can you offer that no one else can?
- Make it an ongoing thing. No need to have an overnight revolution. Improve things by 1% daily. It took me years to form my writing style.
- Be tough on yourself. If you can't justify why your blog is awesome and unique,try and change it.
Of course I could be wrong and in that case I'll just sit on the fence ;) My next post btw will be "How not being a jerk will help your blog".
Awesome image by: cotidad
P.S - Take a look at the ebook, seriously