Whether you’re a freelancer working out of a spare room or a multinational corporation, your internet presence is an essential aspect of your business. Blogging can be a great way to build your brand, connect with customers, and share your message with the world. However, a blog without a mission is like a road trip without a map: directionless, frustrating, and likely to end in tears.
A mission statement, which is usually no more than two or three sentences long, should distill the purpose of your blog. If you’re not sure what that purpose is yet, the process of writing it will help you find your focus. Here are some questions to ask when preparing to draft your mission statement:
- Who Are You? The answer to this question isn’t simply the name of your company. Consider the image you wish to portray. Are you funny or factual? Entertaining or authoritative? Casual or professional? This public persona will set the tone of your blog, coloring everything from the layout of the site to the style of the writing.
- Who Is Your Audience? One of the most common mistakes made by business bloggers is writing for their peers rather than their customers. For example, an author who blogs about publishing trends is likely to attract other writers, but very few of those page views will translate into book sales. Consider not only the demographics—industrial manufacturers, stay-at-home moms, pastry chefs—but also the needs of your audience.
- What Does Your Blog Do? There’s a difference between what your blog is and what it does. A photographer might describe his blog as a place to show off his work, but—and excuse the pun—that’s only half of the picture. Is his purpose to sell fine art prints or stock photos directly from his site? Does he want to attract clients as a special occasion photographer or promote his services as a freelance photojournalist?
- How Does Your Blog Benefit Your Readers? To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, ask not what your blog can do for you, but what your blog can do for your readers. By providing something of value—not just your latest press release—you will convert casual visitors into dedicated readers, and, in time, those readers will become your customers.
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be ready to compose your blog’s mission statement. Use strong, active verbs—instructs, challenges, creates—and be specific. Compare the following sentences:
This blog is about our snack food products.
At Mama’s Bakery, we share our love for delicious, wholesome snacks with our community of customers and friends.
The second example paints a much more vivid picture of the blog’s purpose. It states who the audience is—the people who buy their products—and gives a sense of the blog’s tone. The words “share,” “wholesome,” and “community” indicate a down-to-earth, conversational style. Although it’s still a calculated statement, there’s nothing slick or formal about the language. You can almost see the red-and-white gingham background and the smiling portrait of the corporate mascot.
Note that the mission statement for your blog will be different from the mission statement for your company. Our fictional snack manufacturer, Mama’s Bakery, exists to produce cookies and crackers. Their blog, however, exists to foster a sense of community and goodwill amongst their customers.
After you’ve drafted your statement, show it someone with a keen eye for grammar. Once it’s been thoroughly edited and all superfluous words have been cut, your statement is ready to be shared with your stakeholders. You may prefer to keep it for in-house guidance, or you might share it openly on your site. In either case, remember that as your business and blog change over time, so too should your mission statement. Revisit it regularly, both to remind yourself of your purpose and to revise it as needed.