31 Days to a Better Blog Day 31: Run a S.W.O.T. Analysis on Your Blog
It's the last day of the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project and I don't know why I thought that Darren might go easy on us. I should know better after the last month.
Today's task is to run a SWOT analysis to look at the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities for my blog. As Sue said when she saw this, "bugger it."
In preparing to write this, I realize that part of my discomfort is having to be so public with my analysis. Even more bothersome to me is the fact that I'm most worried about listing my blog strengths. I'm afraid someone will disagree, I suppose. A stupid way to go into this.
At any rate, to really do the analysis, I should have a clear mission statement. Mine is still a bit foggy at the moment, but I think I have enough there to at least get a start. And in some ways the analysis may help me solidify my mission.
- What attributes does your blog have that will help you to achieve your blog’s goals?
- What does your blog have going for it?
- What are you good at as a blogger?
- What resources and assets do you have at your disposal?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
As I see it, my blog strengths are:
- I write well and am developing an online voice that readers seem to like.
- I love to research and pull together ideas.
- I'm a good synthesizer and connector
- I have a lot of ideas and an ability to articulate them (although sometimes I come across as "impractical")
- I have a year's worth of posts under my belt and some solid content in several areas that I could build upon.
- I have great readers who contribute in really positive, thoughtful ways
- I have a video camera, mic, etc. that I could be using for more multimedia posts (like doing a podcast or two)
- I have existing content developed for other projects that could be repurposed.
(I'm always better at coming up with these):
- What attributes does your blog that are holding you back from achieving it’s goals?
- What skills do you not have as a blogger?
- What is ‘broken’ on your blog or in your workflow?
- What could or should you improve about your blog?
- What should you probably avoid in your blogging?
- What is distracting you from your goals?
I see these weaknesses:
- I still think that my focus isn't as tight as it could be. Maybe I'm in a transition as I find myself less interested in specifically working in the nonprofit realm and more interested in the learning and development potential of social media as it applies in all kinds of settings.
- I'm not as good with the online schmoozing (just as I'm bad at schmoozing of any sort)--I need skills in this area.
- I tend to be wordy and need to do some serious editing.
- I don't plan as much as I should, although I'm getting better with that.
- I am someone who is great at starting things, but not so good with the endings. So I get a lot of things going, but don't always have the follow-through that I should.
- Time is always a factor.
- What external things could/are helping you achieve your blog’s goals?
- What trends are there in your blog’s niche that you could explore on your blog?
- What tools and technologies could you use to improve your blog?
Here are some of the opportunities I see:
- People are getting more interested in tools like blogging, wikis and social networks and many want guidance and support.
- Interest in personal learning environments and using technology to support learning also seems to be growing, which is in line with my interests.
- Globalization is really forcing people to learn how to learn for a lifetime, manage their careers, etc. and that ties in with some of where I want to go here.
- I have the means to use more multimedia so I need to incorporate that more.
- I also see opportunities in ebooks and online classes and in using the Bamboo Project as a jumping off into some other areas that are related, but not quite in the Bamboo niche.
- What external things could or are hindering you achieving your blog’s goals?
- What are other blogs in your niche doing that could be a hindrance to your own blog’s growth?
The threats I see are:
- Finding my own voice in a crowded space--it seems like there are a lot of people blogging in the social media/nonprofit/professional development arena and I'm not sure where I fit in or what my "value-add" is.
- Work and family life also battle for my time.
- Since I don't have a really focused "niche" it's hard for me to actually analyze my "threats"--I'm not sure where they'd be coming from.
Reflections on Process
As I finish this list, I realize that without that really coherent mission, it's harder to pull this together. It's particularly difficult to look at externals because I can't say where I fit into the larger blogging universe. This is most definitely a task I'll need to return to once I polish my mission.
The End of the 31 Day Project?
This is the last activity for the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project, but far from the end of it for me. The group that formed to meet this challenge has become very tight and I have no doubt that we'll continue to stay connected, hopefully exploring new challenges down the road. I also know that I didn't complete several of the challenges to the extent I needed to, so I'll be going back and looking at where I need to do more work.
Finally, in the spirit of planning (another thing I learned from Darren this past month), I've already written a series of posts to put up next week on the results of the 31 Days for me and for the blog. I'll be taking a look at:
- My stats and how they changed over the past month
- How my blogging community grew
- What I learned in the process (31 things for the 31 days, plus a bonus post for Friday)
Since it's Labor Day weekend in the U.S. I plan to post the first summary on Tuesday. I'll tell you that it was really interesting to go back and reflect on what happened in the last month. I also saw some really phenomenal results for my blog.
I do want to thank all of the 31 Day project participants. They've been a wonderful group of people to go with on this journey and I know that I couldn't have even remotely completed this process without their support and ongoing motivation. So a huge thank you to:
I also want to thank all of the readers who took the time in the past month to email me or comment on how they appreciate The Bamboo Project. There are some days when I've wondered why I keep doing this, but then I get a comment telling me I've made a difference to someone and that definitely keeps me going. I feel like I have a wonderful community of people around me and it definitely makes the blogging even more rewarding, so thank you.
As you know, finding your blog was an inspiration to me. An early find was your PLE which is now referenced in a number of places on the web. Your practical posts are encouraging.
I don't find you verbose. Your posts are long because you link so many things together. I am impressed by how clear, concise and insightful your writing is.
I agree that your focus is changing. Globalization and the broader application of your ideas are gong to take a couple weeks :-) to sort out.
It may seem like there are a large number of players in your field. But when you think of the world as the pool from which they are drawn, you are probably in the top 100 if not the top 40 (however you count). The world is big enough and the challenges are great enough that we can easily use the ideas of that many people.
Posted by: Nancy Riffer | September 01, 2007 at 08:59 AM
wow - thanks for participating - great analysis!
Posted by: Darren Rowse | September 02, 2007 at 06:58 AM
Nancy--thank you so much for the thoughtful commentary on my SWOT. As you know, I count the fact that you were encouraged by this project to start a blog as one of my major successes in going through the last 31 days! I agree that the world is big enough for everyone--I just feel like I need to get clearer about exactly where I want to fit in that world.
And Darren--thanks for the compliment. The last 31 days has been invigorating and intense and I really appreciate everything your project has done for me and for The Bamboo Project.
Posted by: Michele Martin | September 02, 2007 at 08:20 AM
Thanks to Michelle for her 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge. Reading her posts and participating in the challenges really helped us to take a fresh look at our blog. We still have many challenges to complete and we have Michelle to thank for getting the ball rolling. It was great to get her daily posts---they certainly help us stay motivated!
Posted by: Jennie | September 05, 2007 at 04:38 PM
I feel like I have a wonderful community of people around me and it definitely makes the blogging even more rewarding, so thank you.
Posted by: Janet | November 22, 2007 at 05:58 AM