Image by Usonian, via Flickr
But you know what? The content of your blog is actually everything on your blog – the photos you share with each post, your header, and every button and link in your sidebars. Content is what’s on your About page, and your Related Posts widget, and your navigation menus. (It’s also every post in your blog archives and everything single thing your blog links out to, but let’s save those bits for other posts.)
Every piece of your blog participates in telling people who you are.
Image by blentley, via Flickr
…Which brings up the question: who are you?
So, what’s the first step to building a good content strategy? As with many things, it’s knowing thyself.
What, specifically, do you want to be known for as a blogger? And what kinds of people, specifically, need to be reading your blog? It’s hard to have a strategy for your content if you don’t know the answers to those questions. It’s also hard to come up with a strategy if your answers are too vague!
Those two short questions encompass a lot of thinking and analysis that’s a bit outside the scope of this post. I have a great workbook in my online shop that helps you focus down to who you are and who you need to reach – so please check that out. (And that’s my “ask,” by the way.) :-)
So, let’s look at the rest your blog content strategically.
Since this is our first post in this series, let’s give “content” a really broad meaning. Let’s look at some common zones of your craft blog, and then ponder how you might think about these more strategically.
(And again, we’ll go even deeper in future posts this month.)
I’m talking about this zone of your blog first because for craft bloggers, photography is vitally important. We crafters blog to a very visually-oriented audience. Attractive photos help your readers decide whether to read your post… or click away to something prettier instead.
The quality of your photography also communicates the quality of your work, whether you sell finished items, patterns, or design services. Let’s say, for example, that your goal is to communicate the high level of craftsmanship in your handmade jewelry. Will greyed-out, fuzzy little images give anyone that impression? Will photos of your jewelry plopped on the nearest tabletop with no styling give anyone that impression?
Nope. To think strategically about your blog photography, you might:
- Make every photo count. Don’t allow anything that’s badly-lit or out of focus or just plain dull on your blog.
- Invest in growing your photography and photo-styling skills. (There are lots of free and paid resources out there.)
- If there’s something you’d like to be known for, see if you can inject a little evidence of it into most of the photos you share. (Fiber designer? You might sneak your yarn basket or a WIP into the background of that shot of your cat.)
Your Blog Template
Depending on the blogging platform you use, you might use the word “theme” or “design” instead. No matter what word you use, there are a lot of readymade templates out there, many of them beautiful.
…Even so, if you’re thinking strategically about this part of your content, you’re asking yourself one question: Which template presents my work in the best light? (That’s a more strategic question than: Which template is the prettiest?)
- A very ornate template may look gorgeous on its own, but end up competing with your photography for attention. Does that competition help people understand what you want them to understand about you – or does it distract them?
- Does a cute illustrated template designed by someone else communicate your skills, or the template designer’s skills? Whose skills are more important to communicate on your blog?
If you’re not a technical person, don’t worry. You can always find a simpler template that allows your photography to be the main source of eye candy, and that goes a long way toward communicating what you’re about.
Your Sidebar (or Sidebars)
We’d like to believe that everyone who comes to our blogs spends time exploring all the amazing goodies in our sidebars. But in reality, attention spans are shortening by the day. If we’re thinking strategically about sidebars, the question becomes, What will help people with short attention spans look at the things I want them to look at?
Consider that the upper section of your sidebar is “prime real estate” on your blog in terms of attention. How you use this location depends on your blogging goals:
- If your goal is to earn ad revenue, you might place ads there.
- If your goal is to get people to your online store, you might put a button or Etsy-type widget there.
- If your goal is to be known for your design skills, you might put pictures of your best tutorials there.
- If your goal is to grow your audience, you might put a category list and some “follow me” links there.
I’ll bet that more than one of you had more than one of the goals in that list. This is the eternal challenge of strategic sidebars! You only have so much space, and so much attention, to work with. So you often have to make hard choices. It might be a matter of arranging these sidebar elements according to the amount of direct impact they have on your blogging goal.
Image by Mike Monteiro, via Flickr
…It might also be a matter of “less is more.” I used to advise bloggers to fill their sidebars, and lately I’ve been reversing that opinion. You only have so much reader time and attention to work with. Maybe every item in your sidebars deserves examination. If it’s extraneous, maybe it’s better replaced with a bit of lovely blank space, which will help your readers see the things you want them to see more easily.
So, let’s talk: where do you think you can get more strategic about your blog’s content?