I’m currently teaching an adult education class on how to start a blog.
When I teach these classes, we spend much time during the first class trying to narrow down the purpose of the blog you want to create. Before you can write your first word, you need to figure out what you are going to write about. Just like when you work on any writing project, you need to outline and plan. You need to make a map so that you’ll know where you are going.
It’s vitally important for both you and for your readers to not get lost.
Unless you are very famous, (and even then, it is “iffy”) or the most exciting person in the world, no one wants to read about what you do every day.
A blog should not be a diary. There is no purpose to that.
Instead what a blog should be is a collection of “like-minded” topics that provide value. Sometimes that value is to teach and sometimes it’s simply to entertain. Often a blog’s topic is specific, for example you could write posts about cooking, traveling, books that you’ve read, or fun activities you can do with the kids.
Whatever topic you choose, you should remain devoted to that topic. At all times.
If you have a blog about cooking, then your readers will expect to read about cooking. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can *never* write about anything else, but keep in mind that every time you stray from your topic, you run the risk of confusing your readers – Hey, what happened to the recipes?
Every time you stray from the topic, your readers stray from your map and we all know that that means they might get lost.
A lost reader is one who might not come back.
But what if you write about many topics? Does that mean that you can’t write in your blog or have to have different blogs? In my personal blog I write about parenting, recipes, books, I’ve read, and chickens, but here’s the thing – all my topics fall under the umbrella of “living with children and chickens in New Hampshire.” So I get away with it. (Or at least I hope I do.)
I describe my blog as being like a women’s magazine. I have many topics, but they are all covered under that little tag-line of mine that sits right there at the top of the blog – children and chickens. It’s a mighty umbrella under which all my topics fit.
This doesn’t mean that your blog can’t evolve. In the early days, my blog went from talking about my newspaper column to focusing heavily on chickens and the kids. For years I wrote about the lessons I learned from our flocks, both chicken and children.
I think my blog is about to evolve again. This summer all our chickens were brutally killed by a predator that came in the night and took out each bird one-by-one.
Right now we are chickenless.
I haven’t written about chickens since spring and I’m not sure we will be getting more chickens next year (cranky neighbors have something to do with it.) I can continue as is (just because my chickens are gone doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn from them) or I can make a modification for my readers and concentrate on other topics. I haven’t decided yet, but when I do, I need to tell my readers what is going on and where we are now headed.
My point is that your blog should never be confusing for your readers. If you don’t write about the purpose and topic of your blog then you need to address that sooner rather than later. You’ll either have to change the purpose, topic, or both so that your new blog map becomes clear.
And if you do it sooner rather than later, you’ll have less chance of losing any of your readers.
Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.
Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.