Blog planning: choosing your content

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This week I'm writing a three-part series about how you should approach planning and strategy when starting a blog. In this first post, I'm going to discuss what you should consider when deciding what type of content you want to offer on your blog.

Note: Blogs can be great tools for all different kinds of businesses, but to keep things simple, I'm going to assume you're trying to directly generate revenue with the blog (rather than promote some other business).

Content is the most important part of any blog. When I say “content”, I’m referring to any information your blog is offering in any format. Most blog content comes in the form of text on a web page (like what you’re reading now), but it can also include videos, podcasts, images, and anything else you can dream up.

You won't be able to truly refine your blog's content until you get started, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't come up with some ideas first. Everything may change later on, but it can't hurt to have a basic plan in place. Here are the three main things you should consider before getting started:

Choose a topic
What is your blog actually going to be about? People won't read a blog that's about whatever happens to be on your mind, because most people don't share absolutely all your interests. That's why it's important to pick a specific topic so that your readers know what they'll be getting, and they'll come back for more.

When picking a topic, the most basic requirement is that you know what you're talking about. You don't necessarily need to be an expert in the field, but you should be able to somehow offer interesting insights. You'll also want to make sure that there are lots things to talk about within your topic, and it's good if there are always plenty of new things to discuss.

For example, sports would be a good topic for a blog because there are always new things to talk about related to sports. On the other hand, blogging about World War 2 might not be a great idea because you may run out of things to say eventually (although this doesn’t seem to stop the History Channel).

Choose an audience
Once you know what you actually want to write about, you should carefully consider who will be reading your blog. You might want to target a specific niche so that you’ll be able to easily carve out your role in the blogosphere. Also consider the demographics of your readers. To continue the sports blog idea, maybe you should focus specifically on fans of your favorite local team. Maybe you could target your blog toward female sports fans. Whatever you decide, make sure you have a clear understanding of who your ideal reader is, because that will help you make all your other decisions.

Choose a voice
How will you be connecting with your audience? For example, are you going to be writing from the standpoint of an expert in your field, or are you going to focus more on yourself and make it a personal blog? I generally recommend that you write in an informal and friendly way, but that you still stay focused on the topic, and not on yourself. Unless you already have a passionate following, most people are more interested in what you have to say and less interested in who you are. Whichever way you decide to go, try to be consistent. Don't jump between voices because it will confuse your audience and hurt the continuity of your blog.

As I said earlier, your blog will evolve over time, so you shouldn't obsess over these decisions. Just spend some time brainstorming and then get started. You'll find that it's a lot easier to refine your ideas once you've actually got real experience. Right now it may seem like you have to get every detail perfect from the beginning, but I can assure you that it won't hurt you one bit if you need to adapt during the early days of your blog.

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