Saturday, February 17, 2007

Blogging Strategy: SWOT Analysis:

The Art of War is one of the oldest and most famous studies about strategy. It was written by Sun Tzu, a Chinese general, and below you will find one of the most important points on the book:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Having a clear understanding of both internal and external factors is essential for a successful strategy, be it military strategy, business strategy or blogging strategy. The SWOT analysis is a simple yet effective tool for understanding those factors. It will highlight the Strengths and Weaknesses (internal) as well as the Opportunities and Threats (external) for a certain company or project.

Strengths: the first step when performing the SWOT analysis is to define your strengths. If you are not sure about those, just ask yourself some questions, including: “What makes my blog unique?”, “What compliments have it received from readers?”, “What articles were linked from other bloggers and why?”.

Example of blogging strengths:

expertise around a certain topic
web designing skills
creativity or innovative ideas
a network of influential people
Weaknesses: once identified the strengths you will list the weaknesses of your blog. Weaknesses can emerge from problems that you faced over the past, for instance if you messed your blog database and lost some data your programming skills could be considered a weakness. Alternatively you can also think about competencies or areas that could be improved.

Example of blogging weaknesses:

lack of technical knowledge (i.e. html, PHP, databases)
lack of blogging knowledge (i.e. pings, trackbacks)
poor writing skills
poor online marketing skills
Opportunities: after analysing the internal factors you will need to tap the external environment, which comprehends other bloggers, websites, readers and pretty much everything that is not under your control. Opportunities usually emerge from changes, therefore you need to pay attention to what could possibly change in the near future and how your blog could benefit from that.

Examples of blogging opportunities:

joining a blog network
joining an advertising network
creating a new meme
exploiting a new niche
leveraging a new service
Threats: the final step on the SWOT analysis is the evaluation of possible threats. The threats can appear either from external changes or from internal weaknesses that have not been protected.

Examples of blogging threats:

technical problems (i.e. server downtime, loss of data)
your topic becomes obsolete
SEO problems (i.e. Google drops your blog)
lack of time to blog
The SWOT analysis will give you a clear understanding of the internal and external factors affecting your blog. Once the evaluation is performed you will be able to focus on your strengths, improve the weaknesses, benefit from external opportunities and protect yourself from possible threats.


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