how to choose blog topics

February 25th, 2013   |   Business AdviceLife

 

ChoosingBlogTopics

Last week I received a great question from Emily, a reader, which I thought would be great to share and answer here on the blog.

 

Hi Jess,

I just want to say, first of all, that I love your writing & your blog! You have really captured your own voice and tone without being too “bloggy” and sharing TMI. I think a lot of other bloggers get into that and it can be really distracting from the content.

My question for you is this, though, how do you decide what to write about each day? Your topics are very varied but they don’t seem disorganized. I am working on my own website (health and fitness focused) right now and have tons of ideas for posts but I feel like my thoughts are all over the place! Do you have some method to organizing your posts and ideas?

Thanks so much, Jess!

Best,
Emily

 

This is a great question and one that can have a million right answers.

First of all, there is definitely an element of trial and error when starting a blog. So though I might have a particular perspective on content direction, there will inevitably be a bit of “try it and see what happens” as you go along.

The more you pay attention to which posts get the most response, the more you will hone in on what your readers enjoy.

In the early stages of blogging, it might be hard to discern what readers like because there may not be tons of readers to get feedback from in the first place.

That’s where a purpose statement comes into play.

With my small business clients I often help them to create a purpose statement for their brand. You could also call it a slogan, tag line, mission statement, you name it.

I prefer “purpose statement” because it elevates what could be seen as corny and outdated with an updated title and concrete intention. I believe the same exercise can be used for blogs as well.

A purpose statement allows you to connect varied content to a higher, universal theme.

I also believe that the purpose statement is oftentimes more important than the brand or blog name itself.

You see, JessLively.com is my blog name. But if you’ve never heard of me before you have no freaking clue what you will find on this site. My blog name alone tells you nothing.

However, when you get to the site you will notice the phrase “Designing a life, home, and business with intention” right below the title.

This phrase, or purpose statement, tells you exactly what blog content to expect. Common topics will include life, home decor, and business.

When you look a bit closer, you notice the phase is active. The word “designing” gives you the sense that I’m coming from a first-person perspective - [I'm] designing my life, home, and business with intention. This means my content will be centered largely around the things that I encounter in my own life, told in a first-person narrative.

This may seem subtle, but it’s intentional. My posts don’t come out and “tell” people what to do. They are a reflection on what I’m doing in my own life and my purpose statement conveys the same.

Meanwhile, my business site is focused on helping others create personal intentions.

So on With-Intention.com the purpose statement is simply “Design a life, home, and business with intention.”

The word “design” is active and focused on the intentions of the client. My blog is my personal story, my business site is about helping others do the same in their own lives.

And lastly, the “with intention” part at the end of each purpose statement is the thread that ties my posts together.

I almost always try to share things that relate to some personal or universal intention, no matter what the topic may be. So though I might write about my weight loss struggle, bad birth control prescription, break up, new semi-custom table, or taming my schedule, I always try to share what I’ve learned with a purposeful, personal point of view with the hopes that it may help others in similar situations.

Now that I’ve shared how I have applied this concept to my own blog and purpose statement, we can see how this could help other bloggers craft purpose statements as well.

 

Things to consider when crafting a purpose statement:

 

  • Create a theme is specific enough that people will understand the common content, but broad enough that you can share across a wide range of topics.

 

  • Use “-ing” with your active verb if you will share mostly from your own life and point of view. If you want to be seen more as an “expert,” are focused primarily on the reader, and share less personal content, drop the “-ing.”

 

  • The phrase you come up with will need to resonate deeply with the readers you seek. So make sure your phrase is either catchy, powerful, funny, or whimsical — depending on your ideal audience and tone.

 

  • You can break away from your theme every now and then. If personal stories aren’t part of your daily content, you might want to include them every now and then to help your readers learn a little bit more about you. Or, use your social media accounts for these little glimpses. You don’t have to share personal info if you don’t want to. But it can be powerful and instill trust and connection when done authentically.

 

  • Your purpose statement is your first opportunity to set yourself apart from others in your blog niche. Consider any personal, unique perspective you have on your industry which others might find captivating.

 

I hope this helps those out there, like Emily, who are trying to find a cohesive way to share and select blog topics.

It may not be easy to create a purpose statement quickly, and it can be added later once you have more experience. But being able to clearly communicate a cohesive theme, point of view, and value to a reader within the first five seconds of their visit will help them decide to stick around.

And it gives you a solid framework to work with as a content creator as well.

 

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  • http://emilyrothrock.wordpress.com/ Emily

    Thanks Jess! I am working on crafting my “purpose statement” right now. :)

  • EmSewCrazy

    Great! I’m another Emily and this is something I’ll be thinking about over the next few days!

  • Victoria Virgo

    Hi Jess. I am a long time reader, big time lurker. lol. I have had my own blog for a while but am working on my purpose statement. When you start a blog, you want to write about anything and everything without thinking about how links together or what other people will get from your message.

    I am slowly trying to find my own niche, by writing about my own online experiences. I am currently taking part in a 30 Day blogging challenge, which I hope will help me to discover the true direction of my blog so that it is as clear and focussed as your own here.

    Thank you for providing such a great example of what is possible, especially with regards to the work-life balance you have achieved and the way that you are able to give so much to help others build and grow.

  • Jess Lively

    Thank you so much for the sweet words, Victoria! I’m so happy that I’m able to serve you. : ) Good luck on the challenge!

  • Jess Lively

    Nice!

  • Jess Lively

    Happy to hear it, Emily!

  • http://twitter.com/SarahPennacchio Sarah Pennacchio

    Thanks so much for posting! This is something I struggle with when I write. Definitely have lots to think about with the purpose statement too.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kate.bryan.524 Kate Bryan

    a fantastic post Jess. Love this.

  • http://www.cupcakesandcoffeebreaks.com/ Erica | cupcakes+coffee breaks

    Thanks for the great post Jess. I love how you laid your advice out based on your own site and its purpose, and you give some really good advice. I try to do something similar to you on my blog, and that is share my learning and experience through personal stories, and sometimes I wonder if that’s really what people will connect to. But then I remember that that’s what I love about other peoples’ blogs, the stories and experiences, and it makes me feel a bit better. But definitely it will help me to write a purpose statement that gives it all a bit more definition… so let’s see what comes of it! Thanks so much!

  • Jess Lively

    Thanks, Erica!

    I checked out your (super cute) blog today and saw that you do have a purpose statement at the top that does really translate to your content well. If you think you’d like to change your direction or something along those lines, feel free to shift the purpose statement. Otherwise right now your content and statement match very well. (At least that’s my first impression.)

  • http://www.cupcakesandcoffeebreaks.com/ Erica | cupcakes+coffee breaks

    Hi Jess,
    Thank you so much for your kind words, and for
    clicking through to check out my site. I really didn’t expect that at all, and to hear you, a very accomplished blogger, say that you think things match up pretty well and have purpose… it really means so much. And it really helps me a lot. Sometimes blogging can feel like a big ocean and you’re not sure where you’re supposed to go exactly, so just that little piece of guidance is really great.
    Thank you!

  • Jess Lively

    My pleasure!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jo3e.M Jowhara Mahomed

    I have to say that whenever I pop over to your blog there’s always something that benefits me ! Thank you so much for your advice, it’s guiding me through many things !

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.flake Lauren Stucky Flake

    My blog started as a way to share my journey through my mom (Dixie)’s Alzheimer’s disease but I ended up writing about so much more–my mom’s Texas family heritage, growing in my relationship with Christ, becoming a mother, etc. My blog title is “For the Love of Dixie” and purpose statement is “Celebrating faith, family and Texas,” which seems pretty in line with your suggestions, but I still have trouble focusing my content…I am kind of all over the place. http://loveofdixie.com

  • http://loveofdixie.com/ Lauren Flake

    My blog started as a way to share my journey through my mom (Dixie)’s Alzheimer’s disease but I ended up writing about so much more–my mom’s Texas family heritage, growing in my relationship with Christ, becoming a mother, etc. My blog title is “For the Love of Dixie” and purpose statement is “Celebrating faith, family and Texas,” which seems pretty in line with your suggestions, but I still have trouble focusing my content…I am kind of all over the place. http://loveofdixie.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.flake Lauren Stucky Flake

    Sorry, I thought I deleted this.

  • Jo

    What happens when a blog transgresses too far from the purpose? Should we begin another blog?

  • Jess Lively

    That really is situation and depends on a case-by-case basis. For some, yes. For others, no.

    Sorry I can’t be a bit clearer!

  • SandraMy

    This is the post I have been looking for! Thank you, I already feel more organized.. and I have barely started anything yet :)

  • http://jesslively.com/ Jess Lively

    That is so great to hear, Sandra! : )