Maintaining a blog is a labor of love. But like any affair of the heart, you must tend to it properly.
To achieve consistency in your blog output and to avoid "blogger heartache", you need a clear method. And at the heart of that method should be a simple document: your content brief.
How well you apply and develop your content brief will define the long-term chances of success for your aspiring blog.
Here are a baker's dozen's worth of pointers on creating and adhering to a content brief that works for you:
- Why - Clearly state your blog's mission in your content brief. The "why" should be your top line. Why are you creating a blog and what are you looking to achieve? Be simultaneously specific and ambitious in your declared goal.
- Who - Who is your target audience? Who are the people whose attention you seek? Let this be a narrow group at first. What topics are they interested in?
- What - What is the major theme of the blog and why is it of interest to your target audience? State this clearly in your content brief. Generate sub-themes.
- When - How often will you blog? Daily, several times weekly, once a week? Write this down in your content brief. Whatever you settle on, this is your publishing frequency and you must adhere to it. Part of growing an audience is showing up on time. People will forget you easily.
- How - What will your blog look like and how will you produce it? Go for a mix of content types. Run industry news pieces alongside more discursive or opinion-led items. Variety is the spice of life.
- Exclusions - Anything controversial or sensitive relating to your major themes that you want to keep out of your brief? Keep this list to a minimum. The freer in tone and more unrestricted in topic your blog is, the more people will likely engage with it. You're not going to please all of the people all of the time, nor should you aspire to.
- No Navel Gazing - Do not reference your company or its products and services in your blog. People are just not that interested in you or your business. What they are interested in is what you have to say and what value you can offer them through content. If you have warmed people up through your content, it will make your product sell easier in the long run.
- Voice - Your voice is how you speak when you think no-one else is listening. Blog with the same passion and conviction that you talk to your friend over a drink in the bar or on the phone in the evening. Write as you speak.
- QC - Set out a clear process for quality. Who approves the topics? Who writes which article? Who edits and proofs? What is the policy for ongoing review of the content brief?
- The Three R's - Repurpose, refresh, and review! How often will you revisit and refresh existing content? How do you plan to repurpose blog articles into other content formats? And what is your method for reviewing your blog content for topics not yet covered by your blog? Spell this all out in your content brief.
- Distribution - What is your social strategy - Twitter, Facebook, Medium, LinkedIn, etc? How often will you promote blog content on your social channels. How do you plan to get creative with @mentions and #hashtags to get your content in front of as many interested people as possible? Set it all down in your content brief.
- Secondary Audience - Who will comprise your wider audience? Other practitioners in your space? Potential competitors and partners? Target your primary audience initially but expect other people to turn up, assuming your blog is good.
- The Fixings - Remember to support your content with rich media - relevant photography, social embeds, video clips, etc. State this expectation clearly in your content brief. Use your editorial calendar to specify who will be responsible for producing each item and by when.