Better Blog Project 3: Audience and Structure

iStock_000000323957blogaudienceThis is post number three  in the Better Blog November Challenge, or #BtrBlogNov that I declared a few weeks ago. Twenty plus people have signed on to this free project because we all want to improve the quality/quantity/range of our blogs and blog posts. This is the second set of info & exercises: Honing Your Message.

Link to #BtrBlogNov intro post: http://bit.ly/jmSOM

Link to #BtrBlogNov Week 1 Exercises: http://bit.ly/dffN5

Link to Twitter list of people who re giving it a try: http://bit.ly/4iLz2Z

Reminder of main monthly BetterBlog November goals:

To over one month, create a better blog – Focusing on ways to:

1. Create better quality blog posts

2. Increase the quantity of blog posts

3. Either increase the Range or the

1. Diversity of blog posts or

2. The focus of our blog posts, depending on which our site needs most

Today’s exercises are the second step in putting the basic structure behind your blog, that will help improve your blog posts . I promise – after this one, the rest are all about blogging directly. If working behind the scenes isn’t your cup of tea, please give it on more shot – it’ll probably only take a half  hour.

Closely aligned with reviewing your blogging goals, is the questions of audience/readers/community:  who are you writing for? This question is really two parts – the first is who are you hoping or trying to write for – who do you want to read your blog. The second is who is actually reading your blog. So the next task is to review our audience, readers, the community we are perhaps trying to build. Who is reading our blog, and are they who we had hoped to attract, or who we hope to attract in light of our refined blogging goals from week one.

We may need to adjust our blog posts to both meet those goals and reach the audience we want. Just like with our goals, you may find that you have several audience/community segments. Again, just like the goals, you may feel the need to prioritize them.

For some of us, our audience may be small, in this case a shift is fairly easy. For others, who have either been blogging for quite a while, or who hit a popular topic and promoted it quickly, that can be more complicated. Some folks may have begun blogging about one aspect of a subject, and either became very specialized and focused, or became very diverse – writing about all aspects of a subject, or even strayed far and wide from your core topic. Neither one of these realities is necessarily bad, if your audience loves it, and it is meeting your goals – keep doing what you’re doing. Others may find that their new goals may not match their existing audience, some may never have thought about who they want to read their blog, others may find the fit between goals and audience/community works just fine.

So the exercise Part one:

  • Take a few minutes, review your blogging goals and in light if that, jot down a few bullet points about your intended readers, audience and/or community.
  • You may find that they are perfectly aligned with your goals. You may find the goals and audience are way off. If this the case, and the audience is strong – perhaps you need to reevaluate the goals – you may have found niche audience that you didn’t mean to attract – but if they are there – I would take them into account.

I can hear some readers asking how do we figure out about our audience. One measure is comments and social media mentions.So the exercise Part 2:

  • Are you getting comments on your blog, and do they reflect who you thought would be commenting.
    • If you are not getting comments, it may not be because your blog writing isn’t strong or focused, it may be that your promotion of your blog has not been effective, or your topic has a lot of competition. DO NOT DESPAIR: These are issues we will tackle later on in this series.
    • If you have comments, are they consistent? Do all of your posts get them, or only a few? Are there any patterns – does one type of post resonate more with your readers than others. Ar e there some post that get many comments
    • Looking at discussions on social networking platforms that you participate in is another form of audience. Do your posts get retweeted on Twitter – take a look at who retweets them; or do you get comments on Facebook? Do client prospects read your blog posts on LinkedIn and then contact you for business  (which has happened to me)?
  • Do you ave an analytics package on your blog – either google analytics, WP stats etc. If so, take a look. See if you can find out how people are finding you. What kewords are they using to find your posts. Are they coming from another person’s blog, or from Twitter or face book. Looking at your statistics can help tell you somethings about your audience. Are your blog posts being picked up by Google? Do people find your posts through organic searches.
  • Have you set up your RSS feed and allowed people to sign up or subscribe to receive your blog posts via RSS, and via email. If so, have you looked at Google’s Feedburner (or other program) stats? Again, if you don’t have many, don’t despair. It’s not about numbers, it’s about starting somewhere and building on what you have today. For those who don’t ‘get’ RSS readers – it is a free service that allows people to sign up and receive your blog posts as they come out using a free piece of software called a feed reader – kind o like a magazine rack our on the internet (or via email if you set it up that way too).

Extra Credit Exercise number one: Review your Blog Assets. In light of defining/refining your blogging goals and your audience, take a step back and look at your blog as a whole. Does the blog itself support these goals and work to attract your intended audience.

  • Does your blog header and tagline reflect your goals and will it attract the audience you want?
  • Do your blog post categories also reflect your goals and will it attract the audience you want?
  • Do the static pages on your site, if you have them, reinforce those goals and work to attract your audiences or build that community?

Better Blog November Resources and Extra Credit number two: If you are hankering to get on with the blogging part of things, which will come on Wednesday, take a look at Chris Brogan’s list of 100 blog posts I hope you’ll write. As you read his list, use your new blog ideas  file and/or notebook (from week one) and jot down ideas that occur to you that will fit your revised blogging A goals and your renewed audience appreciation.

Note: In my first Better Blog November post I mentioned a character who often gets in the way of our blog post writing, her name is Resistance. Between a busy week and fighting an oncoming cold, I let Miss Resistance step in the way of my second post last week. But, as I also mentioned in my intro post, if you fall off the Better Blog November wagon, just hop back on board. So I am taking my own advice and ignoring her, even if I’m a little late. Thanks for hanging in there!

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