The first step in setting up a blog is to define both the goal of your blog—its purpose—and the audience you are looking to attract. The answers to these two questions will help you create the right content.
The goal is no more than a short definition of what you hope to achieve and what success will look like when you get there. Your goal might change as you progress in your blogging journey, but starting with one is always a good idea.
What is the long-term goal of your blog? To sell your books? To get speaking engagements? To build trust and credibility so that some of your readers become actual customers and clients? To share your passion for a cause, a sport or a hobby?
Take a moment and write down your goal as you see it. Your about page should be clearly written with this goal in mind. People who land on your blog will often visit your about page to get a quick sense of what your blog is about. For more on this, see my post The Ultimate Guide To Writing a Remarkable Online Bio.
Now a word about your audience. Think about your ideal reader(s) in direct relationship to your blog’s goal. Who are the people you need as readers to get you closer to achieving your goal?
Write down your target audience (or two or three sub-groups of readers) you hope to reach with your blog’s message. Keep your blog’s goal and audience front and center. Never lose sight of them because they determine what kind of content you will produce.
A tagline can help you define your goal and audience
A good way to figure out if you have nailed your blog’s goal and audience is to create a tagline for your blog.
Your tagline is your blog’s main message, encapsulated in 25 words or less (fewer is better). It is usually one of the first things people see because it’s normally in the header, right below the blog’s name.
To understand what a powerful marketing tool a tagline is, we can look at the Hollywood screenwriters. They know how to sell their product—their movie or TV show idea—in one line. They can entice us in 25 words or less. They are skilled in pitching an idea for a movie or TV series —to the buyers of film properties and to their future fans.
They know that if they can’t sum up their story in one sentence, they will have doors slamming on them all the way up and down Hollywood Boulevard.
And it had better be powerful, catchy and memorable or the game’s over before it begins.
Did you ever watch the 1980s American Sitcom Family Ties? Perhaps you have seen it in reruns. Michael J. Fox got his start in acting on this show, playing the conservative, Nixon-loving Alex P. Keaton, son of ex-hippies Elyse and Steven Keaton.
The writers captured the essence of this show in just four words: Hip parents. Square kids.
Or the movie The King’s Speech’s tagline: When God couldn’t save the King, the Queen turned to someone who could.
Your blog’s tagline should do the same thing. It should say enough about what your blog is about. And it should make your readers curious to learn more.
When I was a blogging coach, my tagline was: Helping bloggers educate, engage and entertain. At that time, I was blogging consistently about those three strategies, which were in my mind essential to a good blog: teaching people things (educate), starting discussions (engage) and touching readers’ emotions (entertain).
It worked for me.
How to create a brilliant tagline
These five tips will help to get the thinking started:
1. Make it short.
10-12 words is good. 6 or fewer is better. Many times if the process is a struggle, it means that you haven’t clearly defined your blog’s goal yet.
One of the best short taglines I have ever seen came from the Zen Habits blog: Breathe. Everything the blogger writes about can be put into that container. Habits and behaviors that help people de-stress and live a healthier life.
It isn’t always possible to sum it up in one word, but when it’s done well, it really works.
2. Consider making it sticky.
If you have read my post, How to Seduce Your Blog’s Readers with Enticing Headlines, you already understand “stickiness.” Sticky words stay in the reader’s brain. If visitors remember your tagline, they can more easily tell other people about your blog. Play around with visually appealing, image-rich words that instantly give readers a picture in their minds.
I like the tagline of Nomadic Chick, a travel blog: Cubicle Dweller to Traveling Gypsy, because I can visualize that. Paired with Nomadic Chick, the name of her blog, I get where she used to be, where she is now, and what she blogs about.
3. Be clear.
This is not the time to dance around the theme and topic of your blog. Readers need to know within seconds what your blog is about and what they can expect to find there.
What is your blog’s premise? Who is it for? What is it about?
Your measure should be: Will a complete stranger to my blog understand its purpose by reading my tagline?
And remember that if the name of your blog doesn’t tell your visitors what it’s about at a glance, it’s especially important that your tagline does.
For example, I found a blog about Twitter with the headline: Twitter Tips in 280 Characters or More (a nice twist on Twitter’s “280 characters or less”).
4. Project your voice and personality.
People come to your blog because you are an interesting person. If you write funny, try to throw some humor into your tagline. If you have an attitude, make it a little edgy.
An example: The blogger at Five Kids Is A Lot of Kids warns you that she is not going to sugar coat things and she proudly proclaims it in her tagline: Raising kids to be self-sufficient enough to pay for their own counseling. That’s funny, slightly irreverent and not your typical “pink ballerinas” mommy blog.
We have been forewarned. So we can choose to stick around or leave.
5. Try building your tagline on your brand’s promise.
It’s a challenge but if you haven’t tried it, maybe you should. Because it helps you define what your blog is all about (and how it is related to your business if it’s a business blog).
And that’s a good thing. What are you promising readers if they stick around?
My friend, author and writing coach Joanna Penn of the award-winning Creative Penn blog, states her promise simply and clearly in her tagline:
Helping you write, market and publish your book.
There you have it. A plan for getting a handle on your blog’s goal and a process for creating a catchy, memorable tagline.