Are you thinking about starting a blog or re-igniting your already existing one?
Then there are definitely a lot of questions that need to be answered, like:
- How do you know what topics your audience wants to read about?
- Should all of your posts be long, “epic” posts, or should they be short and sweet?
- How do you decide whether they should be “how-to” posts, numbered lists, roundups, comparisons or case studies?
- And last, but certainly not least, how often should you post?
Well, the quick answer to every one of these questions except the first one is: you’re not going to know until you start writing.
If you haven’t started your blog, or you haven’t posted anything for a long time, then your audience doesn’t have anything to react to, and so asking them which posts they like (or watching analytics to see what posts perform the best) isn’t going to work.
So again, you really just need to start writing so you can begin to gather insights and test out things like the length, the type and the consistency of your posts.
So let’s jump back to the first question and tackle that quick:
How do you know what topics your audience wants to read about?
If you already have a blog, or you’re just starting one, then chances are you have some sort of idea about the topics your audience is interested in – if not on a super specific level, then at least on an industry level. For example, you might know for sure that your audience is interested in learning more about best business practices, but you might not know that a specific challenge they face is how to keep their team engaged.
The best and easiest way to get started is by asking your audience what it is they are struggling with. What are their pain points? What do they wish they knew more about? What would help them improve their business? What would make their life easier?
When I first starting writing the EntrepreneurOnFire blog, I requested email notifications every time someone signed up for our email list. Every time I received a notification, I would email that new list member a personal message from my gmail account (using Rapportive to add any specifics I could about where they were in the world, what they do, etc. without being creepy), and at the end of the note I would ask them, “what’s one thing you’re struggling with right now?”
Not only did I receive amazing answers and insights from our newest sign-ups, I also proved to them that EntrepreneurOnFire is truly invested in providing our audience with relevant information that will help them succeed.
Since then, our sign ups have skyrocketed, which is amazing!… But it does unfortunately mean that I’m not physically capable of sending out these individual emails anymore.
So what do we do now? We listen.
Go to your social networks and see what some recurring topics are; read other peoples’ blogs who are in the same industry as you – what are they writing about?; and continue to talk to your audience.
I know several bloggers who include this very same question in their weekly newsletter, which allows them to ask all of their email subscribers at the same time (vs. the way I was doing it, which was on a 1-off basis): “what’s one thing you’re struggling with right now?”
Once you have some topics to get you started, then things like the length of the post and the type will come with time and lots of testing.
Okay, so what about the “how often” part?
How often you post is a question that you need to be able to answer first, because only you know how much time and effort you have available to commit to your blog.
And I’m sure I’m not the first person who has told you this, but: regardless of how often you post, consistency is an important factor.
Establishing a consistent posting schedule – and sticking to it – is very, very, very (1, 2, 3) VERY (4) important.
If your audience can’t count on you, then why would they choose to read your blog?
So, be honest with yourself and decide what you can actually manage (daily, every other day, once per week, once per month), and then stick to that schedule. If you start off and you feel you’re posting too often with not a lot of interaction, then go ahead and see if moving to fewer posts helps – I’m not saying that once you start posting you HAVE to stick to that schedule no matter what. If the schedule you’ve established isn’t working well (too little, or too much), then pivot and change it up! After all, if you’re writing a daily blog and no one is reading it, then you’re exhausting your resources for no good reason.
Every blogger has a different audience with different needs, different struggles and different tastes. It’s up to you as the content provider to find out what those needs, struggles and tastes are, and then start producing!
What do you think? What are some other ways you could go about finding out what your blog should look like? Let us know in the comments section below!