Blogging is quite an introspective art.
Sure, we write for other people (sometimes thousands of them) but we also spend time looking inwards and asking ourselves important questions about who we are and what we are doing.
And as your blogging career progresses there are a few really big questions that you will need to ask yourself.
This post is a bit of a depart from my usual 2,000+ word essays. I’m just going to show you seven questions that I have asked myself over the last 5 to 10 years.
Hopefully you can jump ahead and learn the lessons now – some bigger than others.
What questions do you think are important to ask?
The questions to ask yourself
As always, jump in on the comments and let me know if you disagree or, more importantly, if you have asked any tough questions yourself.
7. What is my point of difference?
How is your blog different from the billion other blogs out there?
What are you doing differently and how will that impact on people?
A lot of new bloggers start up a blog because they have a passion to write or make some extra money, but not everyone thinks about what their point of difference is going to be. This is extremely important if you want to have long term success.
All brands need to be different.
6. Is my blog secure and backed up?
If you rely on your blog as an income asset you need to make sure that you have it secure and backed up. A hack can cause you a lot of problems and distress.
Check out this post on preventing Facebook and email hackers and learn about how to keep your WordPress blog safe.
This is the kind of thing you think will never happen to you, but hacking is getting more and more common. Try to take some steps now to prevent it or minimize the damage if it happens.
5. Is my writing style improving?
A blog is primarily a written medium. Sure, we have videos and podcasts but for the most part it is about words.
And you need to be good at putting words together.
You need to get people interested even when you have been writing on the same topic for years on end.
The best way to improve your writing style is to read a lot and write a lot. Practice makes perfect. If you want to give this pro blogging thing a real shot you need to make sure you are practicing every day. And improving.
4. Do I have a long term product or income stream plan?
Something that really amazes me is how many bloggers go into “business” without knowing what they are going to sell.
You see, a blog is all about converting people into an outcome. And if you want to make money that outcome needs to be an affiliate product or some kind of product that you have made yourself. I am in favor of a mixture of both.
You need to make sure you have some long term goals. How is this blog going to make money in 5, 10 or 15 years? Figure it out now before you are up the creek without a paddle.
3. Is my reader engagement improving?
There are many types of blogging but the style that I am really interested in is the one where you grow an engaged community. And if you have been blogging for a long time and still aren’t getting that reader engagement then there are a few questions that you need to ask yourself.
Some of the ways you can measure this engagement include:
- email open rates
- the number of comments you get on articles
- the level of discussion on Facebook and Twitter
Make sure these measurements are increasing steadily. Grow that community if you want to have a long term and sustainable business.
2. Am I happy?
A lot of us get in to pro blogging because we want to get out of the rat races. That was my goal. But somewhere along the way you might find that you aren’t really that happy. The “work from home” lifestyle might even become a little bit depressing.
It is really important to ask yourself whether you are happy. All the freedom and money in the world is useless if you aren’t looking after yourself and those around you.
What do you think happiness is? Can you get it from work alone?
1. Am I helping people?
The most important thing to ask yourself, in my opinion, is whether or not you are helping people.
You see, I really believe that at the end of life you want to have no regrets. And I think the biggest source of regrets will be when you look back and realize that you didn’t really make a difference to anyone.
The wonderful thing about a blog is that you have a great opportunity to help people with whatever it is that you write about. Make sure every article that you write is motivated with the wish to help your readers and you will make your life and the lives of those around you more meaningful.
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You definitely got the art to withdraw attention 🙂
Withdraw attention? You mean I am boring you?
I think what he mean is that the way you have structured this post from #7 to #1 was really interesting. It is important you know how to make readers read the full post and this is surely a good way.
Oh I see. Thanks!
Awesome list! I especially love that Helping People is #1 – that is why I started my business in the first place. 🙂
Glad to see I wasn’t the only bleeding heart out there!
Not at all! I know a lot of people who have done the same. 🙂
True. Most people are pretty decent.
Great list, definitely have to evaluate where everything is heading from time to time.
I think a lot of people miss number 4 in their long term strategy, too many folks focus on traffic as if income can just appear out of thin air when you have a few visitors.
Yeah I was like that for a long time. You get so caught up in strategies for boosting traffic that you forget you need to do something with those visitors.
My #1 goal is to help people as well. I think this is part altruistic, but also part selfishness–the ego feels good when you know you’re useful/knowledgable enough to have provided significant value to another human being. And that’s ok, in my mind.
But philosophical musings aside, I’m having difficulty reaching my target audience as it’s very nichey (women who like to work on their cars & homes). It’s tailored towards a very small percentage of the population, and I’m starting to wonder where they all are, and how can I find them?? I want them to know I’m here to provide them value!
It’s frustrating when doing keyword searches in Twitter. For example, searching for “Women DIY” comes up with 1 of 2 things: arts & crafts “DIY,” or women tweeting about how they hate DIY because women aren’t good at it (at which point, I want to reach through the computer screen and slap them).
Wow that is a tricky one! Is there much competition in your niche?
Very interesting topic, Kenia. I don’t hava a car and I’m not much into cars, but the rest of the topics in your blog seem very interesting.
Really good points to have in mind for all bloggers.
I’d add also related to the point 4, that you can find many bloggers that haven’t clear their goals and just write and write without a clear way 😉
About the point 3 is sometimes is difficult to measure, I see blogs with tons of subscribers and practically zero comments or the contrary tons of comments and few real subscribers. Social networking today is a must but not always is simple to measure the ROI (of course depending of the goals)
I agree about social’s ROI. It is a really slow and long term process. Its about setting up for the future I think.
whenever I see people like you which sharing information for other peoples,I feel so glad,thanks for your information and continue your work
I LOVE your point #1. This is what attracted me to blogging and what keeps me going. I don’t always hit the mark, but it’s such a joy to get it right.
Totally agree Bret. Thanks for dropping by.
When you suggest having a mix of affiliate products and self-generated products, can you offer any specific affiliate products or affiliate product types we should focus on?
Or ones that you have seen work, in your own observations and experience?
It totally depends on your niche. The blogging niche is pretty easy – lots too choose from.
The most important thing is to base your affiliates around really good guides (posts) that end up ranking well on Google for years to come.
My biggest problem is #4. In fact, I am the guy you described who just started writing and had no idea where I wanted it to go.
I’ve already had a few companies contact me because they like the idea a Dad blogging about his family, as it’s pretty rare (hooray for falling into a niche).
I’m just not sure where to take it from there but I’m hoping I’ll find it soon.
Thanks again for all your help, this site has been a saviour for me in my early stages!
Glad it helped.
Fantastic post. I’ve been struggling to nail down #7. I think I’ve got an answer; unfortunately, I think it’ll require creating a different site :-/
The more the merrier?
Guess what? This ended up being a blessing in disguise. I did indeed create a different site (more specialized within the area of the first site) and put a few links between the two where the content complements each other. The next day, my Google ratings jumped – could be coincidence, but I wonder if it’s because of the “backlinks” that I gave myself?
I’d never recommend doing this on purpose to try and game the system, but it’d be a cool benefit of having two closely related blogs/sites.
Great list and resonates with me very much! I definitely started blogging to help people and over the past few years working with clients, I have noticed #7 and definitely #4 lacking for entrepreneurs wanting to blog for business.
Again, awesome list, thanks!
Thanks Tamyka. Glad you liked it.
Really great list. I think questions to ask yourself with every post. I am going to start doing that. Thank you.
Thanks Trish. Good luck!
So glad a friend tweeted this, seems like you could have written this list just for me. That could be the definition of a successful blog post?!
Thanks Sharon. Glad you liked it.
I struggle with the last one quite a bit as although I do feel like I’m helping people (when it comes to reviews and that sort of thing) but my blog is more about informing people.
I reckon that as long as you’re still providing some sort of value, that’s the most important bit, right?
I guess its about whatever you feel is helping people.
Love all the 7 questions 😉
I really need to think about some of these – Especially #1, #4 and #6.
I don’t really know how to answer question number 1: To be honest, my ego tells me that I am really helping people (while my super ego tells me that I am not). How do we answer this question?
#4: No product, yet. I have work on these [may be in the future]. Right now, I am more focused in building my blog.
#6: I don’t really have any backup for my new blog! Thanks for the reminder!
Anyways, thanks for the post, Tyrant,
Jeevan Jacob John
I guess the best way to answer it is to look at the results. Are people’s lives improving?
But I think if you have it as a constant motivation it helps a lot.
#7– I think this is supremely important considering how few truly unique pieces of content are on the internet. It HAS to be about point-of-view and quality of writing. After all, everyone can write about Julius Caesar, but not everyone’s Shakespeare 🙂