Sunday, March 25, 2007

Blogging 101: Mission, Method, Madness (Part One)

As promised, we begin a blog primer illustrated via the progress of my latest project, the new The Blushing Ladies Journal. (Ta-Da!)

This blog is a group blog so there are a few differences and things to address which are in addition to a solo blog, but overall these are the basics: Mission, Method, Madness.

Before you begin anything you'll need to decide why you want or need a blog. This is your Mission.

It's not good enough, in my opinion, to simply say, "Everybody has one," "Everyone needs one," or "Gee, they look like fun!" Especially if this is a business or professional blog ~ and by 'professional' I'm not talking blog tone here, but your purpose. If you're just blogging to update your friends like a teen-diary, this is not my concern (though these tips won't hurt you); but if you're trying to increase your company or product visibility, brand yourself as an author model or other professional, you need to think clearly about what you're doing. Why do you want a blog? What is its purpose? (Hint: Lots of traffic and/or becoming a Blog God isn't a reason to blog; it's a by-product of having a good blog.)

Defining what you want or need to do with your blog includes deciding who you'll need to reach. Is it your suppliers? Potential buyers? Current customers and fans? Employees? Others in your field? Even if you ask yourself 'who' and think 'all of them,' you should know who your target audience is. Who do you need to read your blog in order to accomplish your Mission? Who you are speaking to/with?

Having a Mission focuses efforts; you need a target in order to judge success, and that includes a target market. You may, in fact, reach more than your target audience, but that's gravy.

In the case of Blushing Ladies, I wanted a blog which would speak to women who might not seek erotica ~ but would enjoy it if they only knew of it. (Many women fear erotic literature to be 'porn' or worse yet, just like those free 'dirty stories' which sound so much like invitations to cyber :shudder: and so they don't do searched for such things.) I wanted to reach those women ~ and those who had perhaps once sought erotica, but had bad experiences and so no longer believe in the good stuff.

Knowing that the best erotica authors are those who know issues of intimacy, relationships and romance ~ they have to in order to create compelling characters and stories ~ I thought it would be a great idea for these authors to share those insights. (Hey, we get lots of mail regarding these matters, so why not put that knowledge to good use?) Writing from this perspective of romance and relationships is a good (and I think creative) way to reach women readers.

The Mission is to reach customers; readers themselves, not other erotica authors, editors or publishers. This is an important distinction. The content isn't about the issues, politics and concerns of authors, publishers and editors; nor is it about using the lingo of those professionals. Any posts or writings outside the area of our Mission are wasted efforts.

Do not ~ I repeat, Do Not ~ start a blog (or any project really) without knowing your Mission.

Or your limitations.

Since blogs are best when updated frequently and with original content (not just links to the content of others or quick notes about why you've not been posting), knowing that I'm already approaching my own personal limits of being able to maintain such demands I (wisely) knew I'd need help. Forming a group blog makes sense from the time element alone, but I also (fortunately) know some great ladies who not only can write but have the same mission of reaching female readers who may not venture into more risque sites and publications. Ours is a well-matched group in terms of mission and personality (not all of us are 'the same,' so there are 'flavors' ~ but we compliment one another well).

Note: When you begin a blog (or any new project) it is easy to get so carried away with your own enthusiasm or the newness of the project that you'll underestimate the amount of work that you will have to do. It's not just the writing/creating of content. If you're lucky enough to have many or very active readers, you'll be busy with emails and all sort of other things which do take time. And of course there is marketing the blog too. So I urge you to consider the new work load in terms of your time ~ and then consider it again. Maybe even a third time.


In fact, I had hopes of having 5-7 group members (and we may get there one day), but several of the wise women I discussed this with, while very interested in the mission and opportunity, were aware that they just couldn't make the commitment. (I respect each of them all the more for being this self-aware and honest about their current limitations.)

Starting a group blog also involves the planning of other details. There are matters of main admin access, blog contact methods, site design, and other issues of 'making the blog.' Just who will do what?

But most important are the often overlooked matters of blog content. How often do members agree to write? What qualifies as content? Is it a word limit? Specific topics? Types of content (images, audio, text?) A combination of all this? Who owns the content? If each member owns what they write, can they re-publish it elsewhere? If so, when? What about linking? (Both member sites/blogs and their friends' projects too.) Are you going to use affiliate programs, sell ad space, etc. ~ and if so, how do you split those funds?

If you don't settle these matters up front, you're still going to have to face these matters at some point ~ and likely in the form of disputes as your members bicker about who's working more, who's being treated unfairly, etc.

It takes more thought up-front to set up a group blog; but you'll save time during the life of the blog as responsibilities are shared. (And most of this planning is done while you are still excited, so use that enthusiasm to work through all the details.)

If your potential blogging partners do not agree on what you deem necessary (in this case a commitment to posting at least once a week and to speak to female readers, not other authors or to reach possible publishers etc.), then don't partner with them. Yes, when you expose your idea to others you may risk 'giving away your idea,' but if you know you can't do it alone (or do it well alone), then you've lost nothing. And if you ask good people with decent ethics, they won't 'steal' anything anyway. (And if they do, crush 'em with your hugely successful blog!)

Once you've found your blogging partners and you've all agreed upon your mission, or you know you can commit to your Mission in full at a blog, you're ready to more onto the next steps: Method and Madness.

('Method' will be published in The Marketing Whore Newsletter ~ so if you have not yet subscribed, please do so!)

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Blogger Sara Winters said...

A mission? Now you tell me!

Thanks for the info.

March 27, 2007 12:44 PM  
Blogger Marketing Whore said...

LOL Sara, you always make me smile ~ sometimes I shake my head a little too, but mostly I smile ;)

You are not the first to be surprised ~ but you are, so far, the bravest to publicly say so, and that's got to be worth something, right? :p

March 27, 2007 2:42 PM  
Blogger Sara Winters said...

I'm flattered...I think. LOL

Well, my multiple missions suit my three personalities, so I assume my readers will deal with and love me for it. Or be kind enough to let me know when they're confused.

March 29, 2007 4:08 PM  

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