One thing that bloggers struggle with is the challenge of making their blog more memorable to first-time visitors.  One of the most useful metrics you should be tracking in Google Analytics is how many “return visitors” you are getting.  If you aren’t getting many return visitors, you’re probably also failing to grow your blog. 

Most people focus on making their blog STICKIER, and this is generally a good thing.  You can make your blog stickier by optimizing the structure of your blog, and having strong, well-placed calls to action that lead visitors to provide you with their contact information, or by offering multiple convenient ways for people to subscribe to get updates from the blog (RSS, email subscription, Twitter links, newsletter options, etc).  Don’t get me wrong: stickiness is important, and you need to nail down all of these things in order to make sure you convert a good percentage of visitors into repeat visitors/subscribers/customers.

But making a blog stickier isn’t the only thing you should do.  You should also try to make your blog more memorable.  This takes creativity, and it requires you to think like a marketing pro.  Here’s what you do: you need to identify some key messages and metaphors that crystallize the reason that your blog exists in the first place.  It’s not easy — this is how marketers make their money.

Here’s a great example.  A few weeks ago I did research to identify the best photography blogs, and I looked at about 20 different photoblogs.  The next day, without consulting my notes, the only two blogs that I was able recall were Digital Photography School, which I was already familiar with due to its connection with Darren Rowse, and Thomas Hawk’s photography blog

Why did I remember Thomas Hawk’s blog?  Because on his About Thomas Hawk page, he says that he has an obsessive compulsive goal of publishing 1 million photographs before he dies.  That qualifies as a BHAG, or Big Hairy Audacious Goal, which Jim Collins talks about in Built to Last

According to Jim Collins, almost all of the world’s best companies embrace BHAGs that seem impossible at first, but that serve to push the company to greater and greater levels of success.  In the case of blogging, however, a BHAG can also be like a “handle” that a first-time visitor can get her hands around to pick up the blog, and carry it with her.  In a world of 150 million blogs, you need to find lots of ways to crystallize for your readers exactly why your blog exists, otherwise you’ll be forgettable, even if you have high quality content.

A Big Hairy Audacious Goal is just one way you can make your blog more memorable, but it’s something that has probably never occurred to most bloggers like it did to Thomas Hawk, and hopefully it will get you thinking about all the different ways you can differentiate your blog, like a marketer works to differentiate any product or company.

Will Marlow is a PR specialist, blogger, and photographer who lives in Northern Virginia.  One of his BHAGs is to take at least one high quality photograph of every monument, memorial, statue, and iconic building in Washington, DC.  Here are some of those photographs.  You should follow him on Twitter.