Many web workers have their own blogs, which are usually shared with colleagues and clients. But a good professional blog is not just a matter of just setting up your blogging platform, typing whatever comes to mind, and clicking “Publish.” Most professional blogs would benefit from a well-planned content strategy. So, how do you develop one?
Know your objectives. Your objectives will determine all the choices you make regarding your blog, from the design to the content. What do you want to get out of blogging? Do you want to communicate your ideas to a broader audience? Are you planning to use it to attract more clients? Be clear about your objectives before planning your content.
With that said, it’s possible to have too many objectives. Narrow your focus on one or two objectives to keep things simple. Otherwise, you’ll spend too much time on your blog, and not enough time on your work.
Determine scope and themes. What topics are you going to write about? A good starting point would be about your industry or the work that you do. This is something that you have a lot of knowledge and experience with. For example, graphic designer David Airey discusses the different aspects of graphic design on his blog — from how to work with designers to logo design to typography. These are all topics that are relevant to his work, and writing about them displays his expertise.
But this doesn’t mean you should limit yourself to writing about one topic only. As long as you can make connections among varied topics, you won’t confuse your readers. For example, Chris Guilleabeau successfully writes about travel, writing, goal setting and even marketing. His unique angle is about “unconventional thinking,” so all his posts use that approach, even if the topics covered seem broad.
Use an authentic voice. How you write is just as important as what you write. If you try too hard to sound like someone else, your posts are going to seem contrived. Because of this, it’s best to stick with writing the way you talk. Write the way you’d discuss the topic with a friend or close colleague. Don’t use words that you have to look up in the dictionary. By sticking to your own voice, you’re letting your personality shine through. Also, it’s easier!
Schedule. When and how often you post is important. This sets reader expectations and allows you to plan for posts accordingly. For my professional blog, I only update it once a month. This may sound extremely infrequent, but the theme of my blog is about low-noise productivity. It would be hypocritical of me to write about that if I posted twice a day. I’d prefer that my readers spend their time working on exciting projects and putting my advice into practice.
Choose your format. Although blogging was originally a written medium, you don’t have to limit yourself to written content. As an artist, Michael Nobbs has illustrations and comics as the highlight of his posts, and he also uploads podcasts. Choose the formats that you’re most comfortable with.
Make conscious improvements. If you have an existing blog, look at your archives from last year. I bet there’s at least one post that makes you cringe. As the years go by, you’ll gain more professional experience and become a better communicator. Make a conscious effort to reflect this improvement in your writing (or video blogging, or podcasting).Your audience might not notice it at first, but when someone — including yourself — looks at your track record, the improvement will be obvious. And who doesn’t want to work with someone who keeps getting better at what they do?
Here’s the secret: you don’t have to obsess about your content strategy, especially when posting regularly becomes a habit. You just have to do what feels natural to you. But taking time to prepare your objectives, intentions, schedule and scope allows you to clearly set out and remember what is natural for you, before you get sidetracked with what other people are telling you to do with your blog.
Do you have a professional blog? How do you plan for your posts?