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Zoom Out and Get Some Perspective On Your Blog

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When you’ve got your nose to the screen and your fingers on the keyboard, it’s hard to pause and take in the bigger picture. After all, you’ve got a blog post to write today, a bunch of comments to reply to, and Twitter and Facebook to check.

You might have great daily – or weekly – routines for your blog. Perhaps you manage to get a post out every single weekday, or you’re really quick to answer comments, or you always get back to emails straight away.

But are you missing the bigger picture?

It’s easy to do – especially if, like me, you love blogging for its speed. You can take a thought through to published post in an hour or two, and get feedback straight away – which is fun, rewarding, and perhaps a teensy bit addictive.

Today, instead of racing on with the next blog post, how about taking a step back to look at five big questions ? These are the “W”s that let you see the bigger picture of your blog.

#1: Why Are You Blogging?

This can be a tough one to answer – but it’s crucially important.

There are dozens of potential reasons why you might be blogging. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

  • Just for fun – as a hobby
  • To improve your writing
  • To build up an audience for your products (physical or digital)
  • As a journaling or reflective activity
  • To create a website which will make money through advertising or affiliate sales
  • To build your profile in a particular field (perhaps aiming to get a job)
  • To attract clients who’ll pay for your services

Before you write your next post, be honest with yourself about why you blog. If you’re seriously intending to turn your blog into a business, you’ll be taking a very different approach from someone who just enjoys blogging as an outlet.

#2: Where Do You Want to Be in Six Months?

Whatever your reasons for blogging, you’re probably keen to progress in some way. When looking at the big picture, you might not want to think five years ahead (who knows what’ll have happened to the blogosphere by then?) – but six months is a good length of time.

In six months, you could:

  • Write and release an ebook
  • Substantially increase the subscribers on your blog
  • Build an email list
  • Start making a serious income from your blog

…and lots more.

In order to get there, though, you need to know what you’re aiming at ahead of time. Obvious enough, I know, but how often do you sit down and check that your current posts are taking you towards your eventual goals?

#3: What Products or Services Could You Launch?

Although this isn’t the route that every blogger takes, it seems to be how most successful ones make money. Unless your site gets huge amounts of traffic, advertising and affiliate sales probably won’t give you a full-time income.

Selling your own products or services, though, could net you plenty of money without an especially big audience. If you’re a coach, for instance, you might only need ten clients. If you sell ebooks, you might only need to sell to a hundred people each month in order to make a living.

Give yourself a few minutes to brainstorm possible products or services that you could provide:

  • Could you write an ebook or record an audio program that covers the same topics as your blog, in more depth?
  • What services could you provide? Lots of bloggers work as freelancers, or as consultants.
  • If your blog isn’t on an easily-saleable topic, how could you start tweaking it to bring it around into a slightly different area?

#4: When Will You Post Next?

Do you have great intentions about posting three times a week – only to find that yet another month has gone by with only two posts?

Do you find yourself staring at the screen every weekend, wanting to write a post but completely lacking inspiration?

It’s easy to get stuck, especially when you’ve been blogging for a while – it feels like you’ve said everything that you want to say. And it’s easy to fall out of good habits and let days and weeks slide by without a post.

A great way to fix this is by using a post calendar. This doesn’t need to be anything fancy – a notebook document with a list of dates and post topics might well be enough. A post calendar lets you:

  • Plan series of posts
  • Mix up different styles (perhaps a “how to” post one day and a “FAQ” post the next)
  • Set yourself specific dates for posting – no excuses!
  • Work out topics and post titles ahead of time, so you know what you’ll be writing

#5: Who Else is Blogging in Your Space?

Seeing the big picture doesn’t just mean keeping your eyes on your own blog. How often do you look for new blogs in your niche?

I know I fall into bad habits here – I’ll have a few favourite blogs that I follow avidly, and I often forget to check out new voices (or older blogs that I just haven’t discovered yet). But whenever I take the time to make new connections, it’s always valuable.

By finding and befriending other bloggers in your niche, you can:

  • Get opportunities to guest post, and attract new readers
  • Share ideas – and even partner up (I run a joint blog with fellow freelance writer Thursday Bram)
  • Produce a product together – using your combined expertise and audiences to create and launch something much bigger than either of you could manage alone
  • Help promote one another’s content on Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon or other sites

Getting off your own blog can often spark new ideas. You might want to look at the ways that other bloggers in your area are making money, or at the sorts of posts that they write. Is there anything you could be inspired by, or take further?

Skip writing one post this week, or leave your comments unanswered for a day. Take a step back, and look at the big picture of your blog. How’s it shaping up?

Ali Luke co-authored The Creativity Toolbox along with Thursday Bram. The Toolbox includes a full guide on getting the big picture and the detailed view of any project – as well as two other great guides, and seven interviews with fantastic creative practitioners and coaches.

The Calendar of the Future – A Manifesto

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BlogWorld official sponsor, Tungle.me recently released their manifesto in the form of video interviews with industry thought leaders. Contributors include Robert Scoble, Ellen Levy (LinkedIn), Don Dodge (Google), Ed Brill (IBM), Mike Brown (Facebook), Herbert Wang (Yahoo!) and others.

BlogWorld attendees are known to be web-savvy early adopters, thus, Tungle.me chose to share their vision of the future of the calendar with BlogWorld. The following is a post from Tungle.me CEO & Founder, Marc Gingras.

Today’s calendar is broken. It’s a static repository of events. It’s a snapshot, a moment in time. Contrast that against our dynamic and ever changing lives and we have a significant disconnect. The model doesn’t work – it isn’t representative. It doesn’t leverage our digital footprints and create incremental value. Today’s calendar application is outdated, and with that we have an opportunity to innovate. If we compare the leaders in the digital calendar space, we see very similar feature function developed to date. If we remove brand and unique UI elements, we are left with complete product parity. We believe it’s time to rethink the calendar. It’s now time for the calendar of the future.

Let’s back up a bit…The Egyptians were the first to work out a calendar formula for measurement of the solar year, based on the position of the Sun. This formula was eventually adopted by the Romans and was the forerunner to the modern calendar. Other then the transition from analog to digital calendaring, we have seen little change in both the features and functions of the calendar, but also in the way we manipulate calendar data to help better serve our daily personal and professional lives. This is not an exercise in developing a new set of features for our online calendars. This is a tear down and rebuild. Let’s rethink the calendar. Let’s rethink the tools that help us manage our time. Let’s start from the ground up and build an application that fits our evolving, dynamic, nomadic, connected lives.

We live in a world of ubiquitous access. People today can get online from a number of devices – their laptop or desktop, their mobile devices and their tablets. We are a hyper connected society sharing information about ourselves, our locations and our plans. We publish to multiple platforms and we engage with multiple networks and communities. We play with social applications, location based services and we exist through multiple profiles. The more technology enables us to do, the more we expect it to do for us. Now that we’re no longer tied to desktop devices, the floodgates have opened for geo-location and on-the-go social networking. The result is an environment ripe with opportunity.

The digital revolution and today’s Internet have created disparate data silos: Netflix know which movies I like. Yelpknows what food and restaurants I like. TripIt knows when, where and with whom I travel. Foursquare knows what brands and locations I like and am loyal to. Plancast knows where I am going to be and allows me to share my plans with my social graph. You get the idea…Because the calendar is the single greatest representation of the way we spend our time, with whom, where we go and our personal and professional interests; it is the logical anchor for these data streams. The calendar of the future must tear down the walls of the data silos, and connect them together to provide context to the user.

There is a cultural revolution underway which is resetting the way people interact, share and collaborate. Being open is the new black. In many cases it is a generational divide – the older generation was raised on the foundation of privacy and secrecy – garden walls protecting their daily lives. By 2004, with the launch of Facebook – and the ecommerce explosion behind us – our comfort levels have increased and we are becoming acclimatized to open and sharing environments. Today people share their interests, their locations and their intentions. Why? Because increased transparency allows for greater productivity and personalization.

We never know how much time we have left in the bank of life. We live in a world where everybody suffers from two common pain points; too much information, and not enough time. We can never make up for lost time. Everything we do is an investment of time. Because we can’t make or get more time we need to optimize the way we choose to spend it. When we start investing too heavily in one area of our life and neglecting another we create an imbalance. Harmony is about finding equilibrium. The future of calendaring is about measuring the way we want to spend our time against the way we actually do, and helping us to align our minds to weigh in on what the calendar of the future might look like and the benefits it might provide to our personal and professional lives.

Check out the Manifesto at www.calendarofthefuture.com

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