I’ve been reading and writing a lot about developing a personal sense of branding and identity since the first week of January. Before getting too busy with planned content generation for my new blog I wanted to feel out what matters to me on a gut level: inner mission first, then building a brand to connect the mission to the reader. Putting the colors of my curtains before the shape of my windows seemed backwards.
It’s been a little like traveling across country without a map, or imagining what I’d do as a trapeze artist, without a net. There is a strong attraction to staying safe and writing about facts that I already know. No matter how much I enjoy writing about what I already know, the goal was to go deeper than that. At times the going has been very, very slow.
Then, a few days ago I spotted Jennifer Osborne’s new series about blog strategy. I’m going to use it for re-fueling and re-assessing. The first post in the series, How to Sell your Client on a Blog Strategy, suggests making a list of potential categories and posts.
Coming up with post ideas is one of the Key Success Factor for your Blog. As such, before the final decision to launch is made; and before the Blog is built, we will brainstorm at least 30 ideas for future Blog Posts.
When implementing a Blog for our clients we often think of 7 to 10 potential categories for the posts then come up with 3 to 5 ideas for each category. This is important for two reasons. First, this exercise will help you (the client) to realize that there are hundreds of potential post ideas.
It took me a few days of hemming and hawing, but I eventually came up with a pretty long list. There were two kinds of ideas: those that are pure Elizabeth, and those that fit neatly into categories. Guess which felt like they fit my goal of building a personal brand? LOL.
Thinking Inside The Box
My easily categorized ideas are also more easily optimized for search, because they are connected with the kinds of topics and words that might come up in search. There are phrases I’ve been targeting that are starting to make my site show up on Yahoo and Google, because that phrase is mentioned in my posts. Because of Yahoo’s tendency to pay more attention to on-page factors, in Yahoo at this point you don’t need quotes around some phrases to find me in the top ten. I could keep chipping away at posts that contain various combinations of those terms, eventually building the kind of resource base that would get some nice inlinks, and then come up with a product to sell based on those terms.
Sounds sensible, yes?
Let’s take a trip back through time.
Enter Social Media
Also few months ago I had a nice little traffic spike from being Stumbled. It was fun.
I read about how social media traffic doesn’t convert and shouldn’t be trusted to give the same targeted results as search traffic, and then I got Stumbled again. Still fun. Fun is good. Fun helps me stay interested in what I’m doing. Besides, by reading other people’s Stumbles I was learning a lot and widening my exposure to new writers.
For a few weeks there I became a Stumbling fool. I kept reading. I made “friends” and friends. I read and I read. I kept bumping into “how to blog” posts that talked about finding and sticking with writing about your passion. I still thought it would be more reasonable to stick with the post ideas that are more easily optimized for search, though I fought myself less when I wanted to explore the “pure Elizabeth.”
Straight From the Heart
The thing is, my favorite posts are “Elizabeth” posts, the ones that don’t categorize or strategize easily. They’re about my curiosity and sense of humor. Some honor something that is important to me. I like the feeling of making myself think, or of making the reader think, or of entertaining myself and the reader while making us both think. How can I make something like that fit into categories and strategies for traffic and conversion?
Can these state-of-being posts get search traffic? Not much, so far. Maybe search traffic can be for later, or maybe the sense of intellectual connection I’m getting from spending a bazillion hours on StumbleUpon is enough for now. So far, StumbleUpon readers seem to like the me-being-me stuff just as much as the how-to posts.
What I need for myself right now might have more to do with finding my voice, with a side dish of community support — and lots and lots more reading.
About That List…
My first thought was to post it here, and I’m still thinking about that. The difficulty would be if I lose the drive to write a post after seeing someone else write something similar.
I’d be more comfortable sharing privately, with someone who is going through the same sort of thing. Is anyone who is reading this willing to put themselves in the same boat?
Sooo, about that list… there might be a lot of “Uncategorized” posts for a while.
This Week’s Task: Developing a Blog Strategy
Before finishing this post I glanced ahead at the second post in Jennifer Osborne’s series – How to turn your Blog into a Blog Strategy. There are some solid directions in there about goals, objectives and outlining a detailed plan. I’ll avoid them for now, and first see what comes up over the next few days of living with my uncategorized list. By the time the third post in the series comes out in a week I’ll have dug into the points in post two.
In case you’re interested in following along, these are the topics that Jennifer will be posting at the Search Engine People Blog each Monday, throughout the five weeks of her series on Blog Strategy:
1. How to Sell your Client on a Blog Strategy
2. How to develop a Blog Strategy What makes it a ‘Strategy’ versus just implementing a Blog?
3. How to Come up with Blog Post Ideas for Challenging Industries
4. What are realistic measures of success for your Client’s Blog?
5. How to get your Blog Traffic to Convert
Are you re-branding or thinking about it? Let’s “talk.” Please leave a comment.