When I work one on one with my custom design clients, a couple months before their project kicks off they receive a very lengthy questionnaire. In it are prompts for them to think about their blog — not just the aesthetic parts and what they’re hoping a new design might look like, but the meaty stuff too. What’s going on with their business? How did they get to where they are? Where are they hoping to go? What feedback do they constantly hear about their website and their content? What is the true vision they have for their blog?
And guess what? Not only are the responses fascinating, they’re extraordinarily helpful in directing how I approach a project. On the flip side, many clients report that it’s one of the first times they’ve ever sat down to list all those thoughts out in one place. Because the truth is, as much time and energy as we put into our own blogs, it’s easy to forget to zoom out and think more broadly about our blog businesses. I mean, I fall victim to this too! We get so caught up in the day to day minutiae of producing content or managing social that sitting down to take in the big picture easily falls to the back burner.
But January feels like as good a time as any to check in with yourself, and in the spirit of New Year, New Blog, today I wanted to reveal some of my favorite questions from the very questionnaire I send my clients. This is by no means an exhaustive account of the things I like to learn about custom clients, but I think these questions can help anyone get a wide angle view of their blog brand, how they feel about their site, and improvements they want to make. Not all may be applicable to you, but keep this list handy as your blog evolves in the future — some might become more relevant later!
I’d love to hear from you if you work on any of these questions! What did they show you about your own blog? Share with me in the comments, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! Bonus points: pair these questions with our 2018 Blog Plan Guide for total blog domination this year.
Ready? Here we go.
Your Blog Brand
1. How do you typically describe your brand/website to friends, vs. companies you’re working with, vs. readers/customers? Is there a difference?
2. Beyond the content you provide, what are the characteristics that make your brand unique?
3. Does your blog have a tagline, or any sayings, phrases, mottos, etc. that it uses or is known for?
4. Write about the average reader on your site. Perhaps provide a general profile for the typical user. Who are they, what are they interested in? Why do they read your blog?
5. Where do you feel your brand message is currently being communicated?
6. Where do you feel your brand message is currently NOT being communicated?
1. What are you trying to accomplish with your rebrand and site design?
2. How will you measure redesign/rebrand success, both immediately after the project finishes, as well as 6 months, and one year after?
3. Why are you choosing to embark on this redesign now (versus say, last year, or next year)?
1. What are you happy with on your current site? What do you feel is still “working” for you?
2. What are your frustrations/pain points with your current site? You may find it helpful to think through design decisions you made in the past, and why you believe these are no longer effective.
3. How is your existing site limiting/impeding your business goals?
4. Think about comments and emails you get from readers. What do they say they want from your site, and your content? And on the flip side, what do you think they want from your site and content?
Your Brand Aesthetic
This is a fun homework assignment! Try and describe your brand aesthetic in 5 adjectives. Examples of adjectives are words like clean, fun, sophisticated, modern, feminine, girly, luxurious, bohemian. Now, for each of the adjectives you listed, find one image that’s NOT from your own content, which you think perfectly captures that adjective for you. In other words, if you use the adjective “chic,” how is that encapsulated via a lifestyle or editorial photograph? What does “chic” look like to you? This will help you build a mini moodboard of your brand aesthetic. It can also help drive the direction of your photography, photography editing on social media, and more!
I hope you found this helpful and gave you some ideas for how to think more broadly about your blog brand and vision for your site! Cheers, and enjoy!