You know what is no fun at all?
Going to a grocery store a few days before a major holiday, especially around Christmas and New Years. I'll tell you something, though, you get a lot of time to look at the supermarket tabloids, People Magazine, and whatever else happens to be laying around. I was in just such a scenario when I saw a big question on Oprah's O Magazine: What is your next chapter? The question slapped me across the face, for sure. It can be relevant to anything, but today we're going to talk about how it's relevant to blogging.
What's your story?
When you engage and interact with others in the realm of Social Media, what story are you telling? Before you can answer what your next chapter is or will be, you need to define and frame your story. That's not to say that every tweet and every blog post needs to fall neatly between a front and back cover, but having a narrative or an over-arching story is extremely important. It keeps you on track. It helps you set goals. It allows you to celebrate when you exceed those goals, and it helps you readjust if you fall a bit short of your goals.
There are all kinds of stories you can tell. Your story can be about you and your business, or your story can be that you're lifting other people up somehow. Your story can be one that gets passed on from person to person, or your story can be one that just reaches a few very key people.
So what's your story? That's question one.
Where's your story going?
If you have defined your story for yourself and for your blog, the next step is to determine where you are in that story. What has gone before, and what is coming next? It took me about 9 months to figure to figure out what I wanted my story to be. Now that I have it, I can see that the beginning of the story that my blog and I were telling was kind of like the opening of "Saving Private Ryan". Things were flying everywhere, there was no organization, and it was a bit scary. Now that I've settled into a story that I want to tell, I can better see what fits and what doesn't. A pathway has been cleared so that I can set goals.
Where are you in your story? Are you at the "once upon a time" phase? Are you feeling like you're in the "Saving Private Ryan" zone, with no real handle on what you want your story to be? Or have you established a narrative? If you have, the next question may be even more integral to carrying on your work - what happens next?
Some "next chapter" ideas
There are all kinds of ways to identify what your next chapter will be for your blog. The following are different ways to envision ways to transition to what's next.
• If you've been covering some basics for your readers, is it time to move up your material to the next level?
• If you've been pretty straight-laced and formal, is your next chapter going to be a bit more personable and personal?
• If you've been covering a lot of topics lightly, will your next chapter choose just 1 or 2 topics and hit them hard?
Maybe your next chapter is more goal-oriented for you. If you have 20 subscribers now, maybe your next chapter is to hit 50 or 75. If your traffic is at a certain point day-by-day, maybe your next chapter will see you striving for more.
Don't throw out the chapters that came before
When you read a book, you don't forget everything you read in the previous chapter once you get to the new chapter, right? Well, the same thing holds true for your next chapter. Moving to a new place doesn't mean that you throw out everything that has already happened. In fact, quite the contrary. Moving to your next chapter means interweaving strong points from other chapters. It means referring your readers to other points of your narrative. It's really important not to dwell on the past, but that doesn't mean we can't build on the past.
Do you feel like you're staring at blank pages?
Are you finding it difficult to define your story? Do you have a story but you're really not sure where you are in that narrative? Or is there anything else we can help you with? Let us know in the comments. A new year is coming - let's get your new chapter revved up and ready to go.