If you are about to start a new blog it is important to spend some up front figuring out what your goals are as that will guide every aspect of how you run your blog. One person running a business blog is likely to do things very differently from somebody writing a political blog for example.
It doesn’t matter if you are starting a new blog from scratch or if you already have one; it’s always a good idea to think about your blog direction periodically.
Know Who Your Target Audience Is
Think about who your target audience is for your blog. Are they male / female? What is their income? Are they married? Have children? Are they tech-savvy?
A young tech-savvy male is far more likely to Digg your posts than a mom who doesn’t even know what RSS is for instance. Your audience will respond differently to monetization also. The same tech-savvy male is much less likely to click an ad than the mom.
How will your visitors read your blog posts? Some people such as older people tend to read slowly, taking in every word you write. Younger people with busy lives are looking for a quick read and haven’t got time to read long posts. This will very much affect your content and writing style.
Map Out Your Blog Monetization
From the outset you should try to have a clear idea of how you want to monetize your blog. For example, if you are planning on selling private advertising then you’ll need to make sure that your blog theme is designed to support the sizes and shapes of ads that you want to run.
If you are promoting something that is already in existence such as your services, or an existing business then you will want to make sure that you prominently work your promotional content into your blog seamlessly.
Another popular strategy that bloggers use is to place contextual ads such as AdSense. Even this requires some thought – should you place them straight away or wait until you have more traffic?
My take on that subject is that if you intend to blog for money then you should start placing those ads right from the start. This goves you a chance to experiment with them while your traffic is still low and what also happens is that your readers come to expect to see ads so they don’t resist them. Putting ads on later on can be met with some hostility from regular readers who object to you suddenly trying to make money!
Another benefit to placing ads straight away is that the audience that you build will often contain your future advertisers but they won’t think to advertise with you if you’re not in the habit of having ads on your blog. Start as you mean to go on!
Think About Your Brand
One very important thing about branding is that it is very difficult to change later on. Right from the start think about what image you are trying to project. Are you promoting yourself as a person in your blog or are you promoting your blog name as a brand within itself (think Lifehacker, TechCrunch, BoingBoing)? If you are promoting yourself then think about graphics – do you have a standard avatar for yourself that you can use? Make sure you do because when you get social media right that avatar gets *everywhere*!
What If Your Blog Is Changing Direction?
Some bloggers know exactly where they are going right from the outset but it is also quite common to start a blog in one direction and then realise after a while that it needs to shift in a new section. If you have an existing blog then think about where it is going right now. WHat kind of readers are you attracting? Are those readers responding to you writing?
If you need to change anything that is ok, it is better to figure it out and then bear those changes in mind as you move forward rather than just blindly continuing on with something you are not happy with.