There are a number of reasons why planning comes first and in order to answer; How and What to Plan when Starting a New blog, we will need to explore a bit more about a plan.
In my article; 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January, the Planning stage headed the list.
Why do you need a Plan?
- The plan is the basis of your start point. If you don’t have a plan, where do you start?
- A plan provides ideas on what to research. You will need to do a lot of research to understand how you can help your audience.
- A plan puts a framework to the deployment of facilities you may need to include on your blog.
- A plan can identify a priority to the order in which you instigate the information finding, creation and operation of your blog.
Problems with Plans
Plans can be linear if you don’t make them dynamic.
The problem with a linear plan is similar to how you might progress in a linear computer game. Linear games have one direction, they move from start to finish.
The limitations of a linear game are that they have no replay value. Once you have completed that linear game it won’t appeal to return to it so soon.
Blogs don’t run in a linear fashion, audiences don’t remain in a linear fashion.
Your Modus Operandi, your calling card, cannot remain the same forever. You have to evolve. Therefore your plan needs to evolve also.
Re-Plan the Plan
As I know all too well from working in a planning department, you have to; “Re-plan the plan.” Creating one plan that works is rarely feasible. The more complexity you work into a plan, the more external (uncontrollable) factors play into the success of your objectives.
A plan will always be imperfect because you never have the full amount of information you need to get everything right on the first pass.
The Plan’s aim is to generate some confidence in the fact that you know what you are letting yourself in for. It helps generate some expectation of the kind of commitment you will need to channel into making your end product worthy.
What to Plan for a Successful Blog Start?
You will definitely need an infrastructure plan if you plan nothing else.
Here is a list of the infrastructure I employ in BlogPrefect.com:
Domain – This is the blogprefect.com name, it is held by a registrar and is the way that both identifies my personal contact and allows my audience to search for me on the internet.
Hosting – This service provides me the architecture to provide this website. All the files including the database, code and images are stored on a server here. I’m currently with BlueHost but there are many other web hosts out there.
CMS (content management system) – This is the management control that I have to write articles and layout content on my website. I use self-hosted WordPress but there are other options. Determine which one fits you best!
Plugins – Whilst the theme you choose can cover a lot of the functions of the blog, there are some extra functions you will need to include that aren’t provided as standard with the theme. You will need plugins for extra functions such as security, caching and communication. Plugins incorporate speed overheads and also require you to spend time administering to their updates and settings along the way. There are a number of plugins you could need and so you may need a separate infrastructure list for these.
Theme – This is the user interface that everybody sees when they visit the blog. All themes are not created equal. Some work better than others depending on what you need them to do. My theme is Clicky, available at Theme Forest (Envato), it is a premium theme as it has certain features that aren’t provided with the selection of free themes WordPress provides. You have to decide on a tradeoff with a selection of theme. You can start with a free one and nobody will think less of you but you will reach the limitation of that free theme soon. Changing themes can provide challenge because the formatting of your posts may change and not always for the better. This is why it is best to decide on a theme you are going to keep for a while.
These are not essential to the core of your blog but they are essential for the marketing foundation of your blog.
Email List Provider – This provides me the ability to provide content to my subscribers and helps aid in generating direct traffic. I use Mailchimp.
Email Management System – This tool allows me to send and receive emails using my domain’s address. I use Fastmail but there are other options.
Notes about your infrastructure list:
You don’t need everything straight away. Your traffic is naturally low in the start so you can slowly introduce elements as you go along. You should think about the core elements you need and add the less essential elements later.
1st Question to ask
Have you identified what problems you seek to resolve for your audience?
This is something you can plan but you will more than likely need to review after some time researching.
A corner-stone of planning activity are milestones. You may have heard of this term if you’ve put together a project. All it means is that you lay down a marker, a point by which you must have achieved something.
Planning has exceedance, the dictionary might not like the word but it exists. This means that should you not reach a goal by a certain point you have to push it out to the right, but analyse why. Some goals cannot be pushed because you will miss the ‘window of opportunity’ which leads to;
The Critical Path may be a list of elements you need to complete regardless of any superfluous goals. You often have “nice to do’s” and “must do’s”, when planning you have to prioritise the “must do’s”.
What Can I Apply this to?
- Blog Posts
You can literally plan everything. New logo, strategy for social media, return after time away, everything!
I will be looking next at stage 2 of the 7 Steps to Take Before Launching a New Blog in January, which looks at Research.
All images creditable to copyright free images acquired from Pixabay.