Welcome to the 3rd part of our discussion on long-term blogging success. Up till this point, we’ve covered:
What are we covering today? Well, I’ll be discussing my version of how to create a blog business plan. (This was an idea given to me by Marthe of the “Mausumi” website.)
I’ll be honest here. While I did create a business plan for this blog, it’s not particularly professional. In fact, my entire “plan” was written out on a large piece of paper. Let me explain…
#11- Mind Map Your Business Plan
When I first start a major project, I like to use a technique called “mind mapping.” Here’s the official Wikipedia definition of this concept:
A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.
The elements of a given mind map are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts, and are classified into groupings, branches, or areas, with the goal of representing semantic or other connections between portions of information. Mind maps may also aid recall of existing memories.
By presenting ideas in a radial, graphical, non-linear manner, mind maps encourage a brainstorming approach to planning and organizational tasks. Though the branches of a mindmap represent hierarchical tree structures, their radial arrangement disrupts the prioritizing of concepts typically associated with hierarchies presented with more linear visual cues. This orientation towards brainstorming encourages users to enumerate and connect concepts without a tendency to begin within a particular conceptual framework.
Okay…I know this is a pretty lengthy description. Basically a mind map is a way you can draw out your business plan in a free flowing manner. It’s great for brainstorming and fleshing out ideas. I personally like it because you’re not restricted like you would be with a linear, typed out business plan.
Unfortunately, at this moment all of my possessions are sitting in a storage shed. So I can’t show the nice, pretty- looking mind map I created six months back. However, I just quickly drew up a very rough example of what I used for this site. You can see an example here.
I’ll admit this isn’t a very professional example of a mind map. However, I think it gives you an idea of what to include on one of these diagrams.
How to Start Using a Mind Map
I recommend you go to your local office supply store and purchase a large artist sketchbook. In this case, size really does matter. You want a big surface to work with, because you’ll be putting a lot of information on this page.
To get started, draw a simple box in the middle of the page which represents your blog. Then include arrows pointing to the strategies you’ll be implementing. To give you an idea how this looks, I recommend you refer to the image I just mentioned.
So what should you cover?
Sections of a Mind Map
Your mind map should cover a number of different areas of your blog. To flesh these out, I recommend you ask yourself a series of questions based on these criteria:
Categories- What topics will you discuss? How will they tie together? Are they part of one universal theme or are they separate?
Overall Theme(s)- If you had to, how would you describe your site in one minute or less? What makes it different from similar sites? What makes you an expert on this subject?
Web Design- What blogging platform should you use? What is your Most Wanted Response (MWR)? What style/color schemes will you use? What mechanisms will you use to encourage reader interactivity?
Relationship Building– Will you respond to every blog comment? What strategies will you put in place to increase the level of interaction? How will you find your audience? How much are you willing to give before asking people to pay for a product? How are you going to integrate your newsletter into your regular blog readers?
Web Traffic- Are you going to use social media? How will you implement search engine optimization? Will you participate on other sites? What tools can you use to increase your web traffic?
Monetization- How will you earn money? Google Adsense? Affiliate products? Information products you’ve created? Consulting? Physical products like what’s sold on Amazon.
To be honest, there are a number of different sections you can include on a mind map. So you might want to add a few things that I didn’t cover. The important thing here is you take a few hours and really map out what you’re trying to achieve with this business.
In addition, this is a step you should do even if you already have a blog. It’s never too late to restructure and change things. Even though this blog is only six months old, I’ve already made a number of tweaks to my original plan. Just remember you should be continuously looking for ways to improve your site.
Putting this Mind Map into Action
I know. Most would probably look at the ugly ass diagram I just drew and wonder ‘what the hell am I looking at?’ Don’t worry if you’re one of these people.
In the next few lessons, I plan on going through each of sections. In addition, I’m going to discuss how you can take all of these sections and turn it into a real, step-by-step plan of action.
So stay tuned…Take Action. Get Results.