So, you’re blogging, huh? Congrats, that’s one of the most enjoyable activities nowadays. But is also one of the most rapidly changing and evolving. Blogging has passed the “is that just another hype on the internet?” test and is mature enough to be considered an industrious type of activity. So, you can define attainable goals and success for those goals, like in any other economical driven activity, like computer production, book writing or food processing. It’s formal. And can be formalized.
Yeah, that’s hard to understand and you might already think that I mislead you with the title (don’t worry, I didn’t, but somehow you’re right, it happens often on the blogosphere). What’s this post about anyway? Well, it’s my way to formalize the way you’re blogging, or, to be more precise, just your blog in itself, an economical entity which can be broken in manageable pieces. In production phases that you can enhance and audit. In smaller chunks that you will be able to identify at any moment and change them in the direction you want. And for that, I will use a generalized model, made popular by Eduard de Bono in his book “6 Thinking Hats“.
So, What Are Your Blog Thinking Hats?
The model is pretty simple: basically, your blog will “wear”, at any moment, one of the hats we will describe below. These hats accounts for it’s overall personality and specificity, they together build it’s unique feeling and originality. They can be analized separately, as we will do, but they must be thought and perceived together, as the barebones of a higher structure.
1.The Content Hat
The first hat that your blog will wear it’s the content hat. You will be blogging about something. You will express your opinions, thoughts, rants or enthousiasm about a specific topic, or a list of topics. The first hat, content, is your identity. People will tend to remember you the most as an individual with this hat. Eventually, you will conquer a specific place in their minds, and that place will have the colour of the first hat. Now, if this hat is rainbowish, they will not have too much to say about you, because they don’t know really what’s all about. But if your primary hat will have a strong colour, you will be much more close to their understanding. That means your content must be crystal clear. When you blog about something, then do blog about something. If that is just mint rubbing (a Romanian expression for “shaving a yak”) then do it thouroughly. Put as much creativity and originality you can get. Because this is how you will be identified.
2. The Comments Hat
The second hat is the comments hat. Blogging is not a one way activity. It’s actually a one-to-many activity. The power of tis phenomenon is not only the incredible tehcnological advance that gave to the people access to computers and internet. The real power comes from interactivity, the way people can instantly establish relations from one side of the earth to another. Comments are the way others think about what you do. They represent the reaction you make when you blog. If the comments are bitter and sad, you will be wearing a dark and ugly second hat. And who wants to wear such a hat? But if your comments will be clever, with substance and added value, your second hat will be shiny. The shinier your hat, the most people you will attract. The second hat accounts for what you may call your close community.
3. The DesignHat
The third hat is the design hat. Your blog have a certain look and feel. At least I hope it does, because this third hat we are talking now it’s the hat of the perception. Even if you have strong content (the first hat) and your community is alive and kicking (the comments hat), if your design is not good-looking and functional, you will make your readers think: “That guy is so poor and negligent, he doesn’t have enough money to buy a decent hat for himself”. Is the how you present your self, as opposite to the what you are presenting. In some situations, the tird hat can have decissive role in your branding. Even outperforming the first two hats, so don’t overlook it: try as much as you can to attain a specific look and feel and stay with it. Changing the way you dress too often can make people at least worried, some times… The third hat accounts for the admiration – in a fashionable way – and also the respect you can receive by showing up your ideas.
4. The Plugin Hat
The fourth hat is the plugin hat. If you blog on a hosted solution, you may already feel a shortage here. But if you host your own solution – and wordpress is one of the most popular – you must take care of your plugins. They are the extra-power under the hood. Imagine if your content could be featured in a more-appealing and user-friendly way, that will make people feel more comfortable and relaxed while reading you. Have a way to show your most popular articles, a calendar for upcoming events, make your posts socializable (meaning people cand easily save your posts on popular social sites), learn to use feed burners, and so on. The plugins are the force used when you act, your muscles. If your muscles will be spread all over the site and shout every second some piece of action, the users will become confused, you will look like a muscle-packet on the beach that quickly become intimidant. But if your plugins are cleverly integrated into your site, you will be several times faster than your competitors, still good-looking, and you’ll be wherever you want to be earlier than anyone else. And, along the way, you can even blog about your plugins, seems to be a very productive and enjoyable subject. Your fourth hat is your fitness hat, so keep yourself worked out.
5. The Words Optimization Hat
The fifth hat is the words optimisation hat. Seems strange, but you must have a way to optimise the words on your blog. You are not telling bed-time stories, and you are not rambling. Because you don’t want to people to go to sleep while reading your blog, nor to bore them with your erratic thoughts. Learn to make an edgy hat from your words and keep in mind that your words will make you findable. Unless you are already a media mogul and spend 100.000 bucks each month on advertising, you will have to use the search engines for free. Your posts must share a fair balance among the popular words on the net (buzz’s), your original words, and a way to present those words (search engine optimisation). For the latest, you can search the net and find tons of infos, but for the other, subtle way of writing, I highly recommend a visit to copyblogger.com. You can also see how copyblogger uses his third hat, with a slick and easy to read design. The fifth hat is your location hat, is how to give other tips for finding you on a 50 million blogs neighbourhood.
6. The Revenue Hat
Finally, the sixth, and perhaps the more hyped hat, is the revenue hat. First, make up your mind and decide if you want a revenue for your blog, and if this is primarily financial. If yes, then do whatever it takes to polish this hat as often as you can. But be very clear about that, and if you still have doubts about making money off your blog, I recommend this article from the Steve Pavlina’s blog. Your revenue hat will be the hat that you will pay attention the most, each time you blog. First of all because that’s a very easy way to assign value to your efforts. The first value of your blogging will be, of course, sharing and giving value to others, but, let’s be fair, you do want to see how much do you value financially, and the sixth hat will be a good way to find out that. Put your sixth hat in front of every revenue stream you can find, and use it. Try and learn from errors, but keep your hat there. At the beginning you’ll feel that you don’t even have this hat, but believe me, you’ll have it, sooner than you expect. Just keep trying, and of course keep focusing on the first fifth hats and, wow, at some point, the sisxth will actually emerge from them. The sixth hat is your market value hat.
Well, those are my hats for now :-). Look out for your hats everytime you blog and, in time, you’ll have a strong identity, valued by your community, very good-looking, a fast and effective athlete in this competition with an easy way to be found, and, at the end of a race, a wealthy one. Which is good.