Everyone from Copyblogger to my friend Jeff Goins says that one of the best way for your blog to be successful is to find a unifying theme to write about.
For example, this blog focuses on how to improve your creative writing. Pioneer Woman's blog is about how to be creative in the kitchen no matter where you're from. Gary Vaynerchuck's Wine Library video blog is about, you guessed it, wine.
And you? What is your blog about?
So many of my friends who write blogs are struggling to answer this question. When I first started blogging, I struggled to answer this question. And the first thing I want to tell you is that it's okay to not know what your blog is about.
What Is It About?
When you first start blogging, don't worry too much about what you're writing. Instead, focus on getting words on the (digital) page, and start to get a feel for the form.
Blogging, like writing short stories, poetry, and novels, has its own rules. When you first start, the most important thing is to learn how to express yourself within the framework of those rules.
Then, once you've written say 100 posts, it's time for a blog review. Here's how it works:
1. Read your blog from beginning to end.
Start with your very first post and read until you get to the end.
I have been wanting to do this for months, and yesterday I finally found the time to get it done. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the process a lot more than I thought I would. It's always easier to review and edit than it is to write the first draft.
2. As you read, look for similar topics.
What do you write about a lot?
- Celebrity gossip
- Your kids
- Your faith
- General life
On a piece of scratch paper, write down a few common topics that keep coming up. This will help you focus later.
3. Look for similar tone.
As I was doing my review, I noticed my writing has shifted from straight teaching to a more experimental, creative tone. Some of my most artistic, least dogmatic posts have generated the most response. Going forward, I plan to write more in this tone.
A good way to think of tone is attitude. What attitude are you bringing to your posts?
Also, which tone do people respond to through by commenting or sharing through facebook and twitter? As you notice similarities in tone, write on your scratch paper, “I am… [insert tone].”
4. Last, look for posts with a signature style.
About a month ago, I wrote a post that was only 200 words long. At the time, my posts were averaging 400 to 800 words long. Writing such a short post was a bit of a risk, but surprisingly, the reaction to the post was overwhelming.
Look for posts that are unique, that you took a risk on. Could you develop your personal blogging “brand” on posts like these?
5. Test it.
After you follow these steps, try writing a new post using the things you've learned. If you find that you wrote about puppies a lot, are frequently sarcastic in tone, and got a great response when you wrote a 3,000 word treatise with lots of pictures, then you should write a 3,000 word sarcastic post about puppies.
Well, maybe that won't be a very good post, but you get the idea.
Let's start small. Go back to the very beginnings of your blog, and read the first post. Then, skip ahead several posts and read that one. Then, skip ahead and read another.
Read five random posts throughout your blog's history. This should only take about fifteen minutes.
As you read, think about the questions above.