Thursday, May 29, 2008

Three Questions Every Blogger Must Answer

The survival of your blog may depends on your being able to answer these three questions:

Why do you blog?

There are three types of blogs: those that tell stories, those that perform a service, and hybrids that do both. Some of the biggest blogs out there tell stories, Dooce, for example. Other blogs meet a perceived need. ParentHacks is one of them. It provides readers with information that will make raising a child easier. Rookie Moms offers great suggestions for fun baby/mom activities, and Baby Cheapskate helps parents save money. By nature, "service" bloggers want readers. The higher the perceived value of whatever's being offered, the quicker they'll get them. A good example of a hybrid blog is As the name suggests, Amy dishes up tons of helpful information, but she also shares anecdotes about her family. Hybrid blog readers are attracted to both the value of the service and the blogger's personality. Knowing why you blog means having a vision for your blog. That's why it's so crucial. Without a vision, you don't know where you're going next.

What do your readers want?
You may not be able to answer this one if, well, you don't have many readers yet, but eventually you'll need to. If your audience wants baby deals and steals, like mine does, they're not going to tolerate hearing about your political views for very long before they wander off to find what they want elsewhere. If your audience wants photos of your darling children, give them more. While mixing it up a little from time to time can bring freshness to your blog, giving your readers more of what they expect means that they'll stick with you as long as that content is relevant.

How is your blog different from those similar to it?
What do you offer your readers that no one else does? Know the answer before you write your first post and know it when you write your thousandth. The moment you lose sight of whatever it is that makes your blog unique--whether it's your voice or the service you offer--is the moment readers start searching for a new site that will. Remaining unique gets trickier with each blogiversary as new bloggers look at what you do and try to do it just a little better. Look at all the parenting tip blogs that have spring up in the footsteps of ParentHacks, for instance. Read other blogs in your niche and think about what they offer their readers. Make sure you give yours something even better.

photo by Annie Mole via Flickr