On a map, borders define an area. They help to show what is inside and what is outside of the boundary marked by the border. In a project, scope defines what is to be covered by the project and isn’t to be covered by the project.
If these aren’t rigidly identified early on, they can haunt you later. For example, if my neighbor and I aren’t clear on the border between our properties, his stuff could end up in my yard. Or, if I’m not clear with my client about what I will and won’t do on a project, I could find myself with a lot of extra work that I’m not getting paid for.
YOUR BLOG CAN BENEFIT FROM BOUNDARIES
Blogging is an area that can also benefit from this kind of early-stage definition. I see a lot of business owners setting up blogs with the vague notion of “creating a blog” and then filling it with content.
That might seem fine in the beginning, but what those same business owners define as “acceptable blogging content” can shift over time. Shifting is okay if you’re in control of it, but if you’re not careful, out-of-control shifting can mean your blog gets away from you. Before you know it, your blog is no longer doing what you want it to be doing.
So I’ve put together this little chart – it’s fairly simple to use – and it’s meant to help you create the boundaries or scope of your blog.
UNDERSTANDING THIS CHART
The columns list the spectrum of content you want to cover.
- Anything goes might mean a blog post today about your dog and a blog post tomorrow about your client and a blog post the day after about a rant on what’s wrong with the service at your local supermarket. The blog your cousin started when they were 13 is an example of this.
- To the right of that is Most Topics, in which you limit what you write about just little (maybe you want to keep it family friendly so you skip topics that are too risque). The blog your grandma started is an example of this.
- To the right of that is Related Topics, in which you tend to write about a lot of things but they all can be traced back to some related point (mom blogs are a good example of this).
- To the right of that is Focused Content, in which you write about essentially one thing. Many business blogs fall into this category.
- To the right of that is SEO, in which you write very specific content using very specific SEO phrases. A lot of business blogs fall into this category.
The rows list the spectrum of objectives you have for your blog. I’ve tried to arrange them from “telling” (at the bottom) to “exchanging” (at the top). So as you move up the list of topics, your blog becomes more and more interactive.
- Describe is pretty basic – just a straightforward description of something. An example of this might be a lifestream where you simply describe your day-to-day activities.
- Above that is Explain, which is more in-depth. You’re still telling but you’re telling in greater detail, and probably with a purpose.
- Above that is Discuss, which encourages more interaction, perhaps in the comments section of your blog.
- Convince is like Discuss in that it is a conversation starter. But I would say that Discuss is something you might do with people who are likeminded while Convince is something you would do with people who don’t yet see your point of view.
- Above that is Transact, which is where you actually sell your blog readers something or ask them to take a very specific “costly” action. It’s not just convincing their minds (like in the Convince objective) but actually compelling them to act.
USING THIS CHART
Now it’s just a matter of deciding what topic scope you want to cover on your blog and what purpose you want for your blog. In general, you’ll probably pick one intersection but you might find that there are secondary purposes that your blog will also cover. I’ll give some examples below and then I’ll list some specific ways that you can use this chart for your blog.
My blog has transitioned in the past and will transition again in the future so I can give you 3 examples from my blog.
Years ago, I used Blogger.com when I was doing freelance writing. My work was focused around financial and real estate content, but I did write about a few other things, too. So my blog was used to display my work and to position me as a freelance writer. As a result, the purpose and scope of my old blog looked basically like this:
The darker red was the main point of my blog and the lighter red were the secondary purposes of my blog.
Then, my business changed to less of a freelance mode and more into consulting and other forms of writing. Around the same time, I switched to WordPress and my blog’s purpose and scope changed. I am still using my blog to position my business but I’m using it as a place to explain and describe my thinking and to explore some of my thinking in various business areas (especially sales funnels).
In the future, I would like to transition my blog into a different role, one in which I am transacting business through it (instead of just using it as a place to share ideas), although I would still like it to be primarily an idea-sharing hub:
WHAT TO DO WITH THIS INFORMATION
So now that you’ve identified your topic scope and the purpose of your blog, what do you do? Here are some ideas:
- When you’re developing your sales funnel strategy, you can use this chart to help you figure out how your blog fits into your sales funnel.
- When you’re planning blog content, you can use this chart to help inspire topics to write about. (For example, answer the question: “I want to convince my readers of…”)
- When you’re writing blog content, you can refer to this chart to make sure that the content is within the scope and purpose of your blog. And you can make sure that you are covering all of the purposes and scopes you want to cover on some kind of rotation.
- If you find yourself wanting to shift the scope and/or purpose of your blog, you can examine what you want to be different, and take a step back to look at your blog’s bigger picture.
- If you are creating a blog to compete with other blogs in your industry, you can do competitive analysis on other blogs to identify the space you can work in, or to identify how the successful bloggers are connecting with their readers.