Ok, I have owned about 20 websites for a little over 7 years now and after taking a brief pause (about 5 years -- hey, time is a matter of perspective, right?) I have decided to become active in the development of my content and SEO. With this renewed energy I was recently talking with a friend who I admire and respect greatly. He actually introduced me to the idea of owning websites back in 2010 and has done well with his own sites. I asked him the $1 million dollar question- "What do you do to gain traffic to your sites? Do you have a back link strategy?" While his answer wasn't fully clear to me, at the end of our discussion, he asked me a poignant, yet simple, question; "what is the problem you are having?" I looked at him and said "traffic, I want to get more traffic to my site and it seems to me the issue is the low number of back links that I have." His response was "virality." To be exact, his response was "when are you going to get your PhD in virality?" He takes a socratic approach to teaching; answers are hidden within questions and there is often a gem in there somewhere. And away my brain goes, thinking about his words, what they mean, and how do I put them into action.
Just as we learn in business school, we need to establish a vision and mission for our business; and this needs to be the guiding light for all other decisions that are made to ensure you stay on course and maintain not only your fundamental objectives, but your functional intent. These messages also tell new and existing customers what your business is all about. With this, I need to start by defining what exactly is Virality? According to Oxford Dictionaries virality is:
The tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another; the quality or fact of being viral.
Yes, wait- YES, I want a PhD in virality! I want this for my website; I mean, who doesn't? You don't set up a website spending countless hours writing articles, learning script, studying SEO strategy & tactics, submitting to bookmarking sites, and blogs, and curator sites, and Facebooking, and tweeting... and you get it, we don't work our tails off on a website hoping that it rests on page 5,968 of a search result in Google. While our primary goals may differ, the bottom line is we:
1. have something that we are passionate about
2. want to share it, and
3. earn money in the process.
Note that our goals don't necessarily need to be in that order; for some earning money may come first, but passion must exist in there somewhere because without passion you aren't going to wake up every day to continue your efforts, and we clearly want to share it (regardless of the motive) because we are placing so much energy trying to get it in front of peoples eyes. As a sidenote, passion must coincide with persistence. There are going to be good days, and bad days... there is no way around it. Remain persistent.
Now that I have a clear understanding of what virality means, I can take it to the next stage- establish a clear vision and mission statement. A vision statement is, in this case, a personal declaration of my objective(s). My vision statement: To share the trials and tribulations of my quest for virality. That is it, a simple one sentence explanation of what my objective is. I want to share what has worked for me, and what hasn't, as well as provide details on my journey... one that hopefully finds some level of virality. A mission statement is a little more detailed, but it is still short and sweet. A mission statement communicates the purpose, and identifies the goal of the operation. My mission statement is as follows:
Offer quality information based on real experience, to inspire others with persistence and passion, in pursuit of their own blogging success.
Now, with my vision and mission statement defined, I can start delving into my content. And all of my content should be based around the principles of my vision and mission statements.
At this point, before I move forward, I think it's also important to mention that I am setting up this blog based on the fundamentals of starting a business. Which is why I am placing such an emphasis on establishing a vision and mission statement. There are basic components to every business, and I want to make sure that they too exist in the fabric of my efforts. They will be the foundation, and provide structure, for the actions and decisions I make moving forward. I believe structure is critical. A blog may not follow the standard convention of what a business is, but it is a business. I would label it as a service, a service of sharing information, and monetizing that information. The writing part is an art, and it isn't necessarily constrained or bound by convention, but the catalyst of the blog is the work that goes on in the background and it is very strategic. It requires that strategy be put into action to see improvements; in this case an increase in readership and traffic.