If I had a pound for every predictions post I’ve read this week, I’d have enough to buy myself a bottle of something to smash my New Year’s resolution into smithereens.
So if you’ve come here for predictions about how I guess the world of blogging and marketing will change in 2013, you’re going to be sadly disappointed.
But don’t leave just yet, because I’m going to share something far more interesting than predictions with you. I’m going to share some blogging questions. And then, together, we can spend 2013 looking for some answers.
The Key Blogging Questions for 2013
The questions I’ve chosen to ask don’t have simple, one-word answers (no doubt someone will prove that wrong in the comments). Some of them don’t have wrong answers. And I’m sure that one of them doesn’t have a right answer.
But if we can find the answers to these five key blogging questions, your blog will end 2013 in a far stronger position than it’s starting it.
So let’s begin.
1) The Scheduling Question
I’ve never been a fan of editorial calendars. I’ve always claimed that Twitter and RSS Feeds mean that you don’t need to publish at 10am every Thursday to build a readership, and that you can post as and when inspiration takes you.
But am I wrong? Would a year of metronomic regularity have done more than the alternating months of feast and famine? Is sticking to a schedule really one of the cornerstones of building a successful blog?
Plenty of people have claimed that you need to stick to a schedule in order to build up your reputation. If that’s true, then we seat-of-the-pants bloggers are limiting our own chances of success. An answer to this question might just end one of the longest-running arguments my Twitter feed has ever seen.
2) The Format Question
Copywriting is dead.
Just kidding. I’m not stupid enough to make that claim, and I’m damn well sure that you’re not stupid enough to believe it. But the blogosphere is getting pretty crowded nowadays. Is the ability to sling a pen really enough, or do we need to start branching out?
Infographics have been and gone, but Google+ hangouts and the continuing growth of podcasts have proved that there’s a real market for video debates and audio discussion. Yet for some reason, very few copywriting bloggers have gone down this route.
Maybe the path to success is supplementing great written content with equally good audio-visual offerings. Could dusting off the webcams be the best thing we do this year?
Answering this question will take some experimentation from the more photogenic among our community, but it could lead to some exciting results.
3) The SEO Question
The SEO question isn’t whether or not we need to spend time doing SEO. That’s a given. Search engine optimisation isn’t dead – it’s just telling everyone that it’s now called Inbound Marketing.
No, the question is what should bloggers focus our SEO time and efforts on?
2012 saw more than it’s fair share of posts showing up optimisation mistakes and missteps. We know that the meta keywords tag is five years dead, that keyword stuffing is a seventeenth century conceit, and that Panda should’ve taken out the spam in the SERPs.
But while we saw hundreds of “don’t” posts, “do” posts were few and far between.
Finding out just where our inbound marketing time is best spent is certainly one of the most crucial blogging questions of the year.
4) The Mobile Question
This one’s the big one. It’s now an indisputable fact that a hugely significant percentage of people are using mobiles and tablets as their primary method of searching the web. My fiancee is one of those people, so I know they exist.
So there’s an obvious question that needs to be asked. Are our blogs fit for purpose when someone is reading on a 5″ screen? And it’s not just a web design question – responsive design should be the new standard – it’s a content and format question.
Because who’s got the patience to read a 2,000 word treatise on a screen the size of a postage stamp?
Knowing whether or not post lengths and content style needs to be tailored to mobile users could well be the difference between succeeding and alienating a third of your potential user base. So it’s safe to say that we need an answer.
5) The Inspiration Question
Finally, a personal question.
In 2012, I came out of the blogging blocks like a keyboard-bashing Usain Bolt. By October, I couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper. Because if you’re not in the right mindset, there’ll always be something more important than blogging. Client copy is a given, hobbies a real draw and spending time with your family a must.
But where do you search for the inspiration to conjour up another 800 words of thought-provoking content when all you want to do is curl up with a cup of tea and a DVD?
Answering that question might not make a difference to the more disciplined readers, but if you’re like me, you know that cracking the inspiration conundrum could be the most crucial thing you do in 2013.
I don’t have the answers to these questions. Yet.
But in 2013, We’re going to find out whether or not we need to schedule some video content for our readers to enjoy on a 5″ touchscreen. We’ll week out how we can reach even more people through the search engines. And how to make sure that we never run out of great ideas.
I want each and every one of you along for the ride. So if you’ve got any answers, inklings or gut feelings, let me know in the comments section. And ask your own blogging questions too – because once we get going, who knows what we’ll find out.
Happy new year, and good luck!