So you’ve decided that you want to start a blog. Congratulations! You are in for an exciting, wild ride (if you do it right). But before you start a blog there are a few things you really need to know or your blog will fail.
Or at least not be as successful as it could be. And that’s not good either.
The Voice of Experience
I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade now, both for business and for fun, and overall it’s been a blast.
But it hasn’t all been fun and games and dolla dolla bills y’all (okay, I’ll stop doing that)
I’m a little ashamed to admit that when I took my first ‘how to blog” course it, and therefore my entire blogging mindset, was centered around one concept: make money blogging.
Nobody bothered to tell me what you need to know before you start a blog to make it be successful.
Guess what? The only person who made money on my first attempt at blogging was the guy I bought the (very expensive) course from. I had no idea what I was up against.
Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot about blogging.. but I learned most of it the hard way and it wasn’t a very fun or cheap lesson.
But now, a decade and several successful blogs later, I do know what you need to know before you start a blog. And I’m here to share that information with you!
So before you start worrying about what to call your blog or how to set up social media or drive traffic or all those other fun blogging adventures, ask yourself a few simple questions.
1. WHY Are You Blogging?
In his book “Start With Why” Simon Sinek suggests that the best way to succeed and to inspire those you work with is to find your “why”.
Your “why” is what is behind the reason that you do the things you do, whether it’s work or play or just sitting around. Why do you do whatever you do?
When the Wright brothers were building the first airplane, their why wasn’t to build an airplane, it was to fly.
- If the reason you get up and go to work in the morning is just to earn a paycheck, then you don’t have a very strong “why”.
- If you love the work that you are doing and you find it inspiring and uplifting, then that’s a really great “why”. That’s the best “why” there is!
More Than Money
Please don’t start a blog just to make money. There’s nothing wrong with making money and certainly every blogger would love to have millions of adoring visitors click on all their links and buy all their stuff. I know it’s not just me. 🙂
Dig a Little Deeper
But in my experience, doing anything just for the money doesn’t turn out well. I encourage you to dig a little deeper and see what blogging really has to offer.
Do you want to:
- spend more time with your family and friends?
- be in control of your work schedule?
- do work that you really enjoy?
- have some extra income?
These are just a few examples of the reasons that people blog.
- Blog for more time doing what you love.
- Do it for your kids/pets/houseplants.
- Fight injustice and tyranny.
- Get out of that crappy commute.
Cuz if your only purpose is to make money, you’re not going to be happy blogging. Or doing anything else either.
Make it Personal
If you have a personal why, one that really motivates you beyond earning a check, you are much more likely to succeed.
My blog deehathaway.com started as a way for me to just get my thoughts together when I was going through some personal, tough times. An online journal of sorts. My why was self-discovery.
I found that I really like writing, something that I had lost from when I was a child. My why was enjoying what I was doing.
And then I discovered that other people liked my writing too, so it became a way to communicate and share ideas. My why was helping other people become more awesome.
And then I converted that blog into a best-selling book, Here’s What Let’s Do: Stop Being Average and Start Being Awesome.
Through that blog, and the book, and my career as a technology leader, I found my true love: writing and helping other people find their passion so they can live a life they love.
What could be better?
So take a few minutes and dig deep to find out why you want to start a blog. Fun? Money? Friendship? Education? Blogging offers all those and so much more!
2. WHAT Are You Blogging About?
Many blogging courses will tell you that the best way to figure out what to blog about is to:
- do a bunch of research on amazon and google and find out what topics are really trending right now
- read a few blog/site articles to brush up on the subject
- call yourself an expert in that subject
- start rewriting other people’s posts to make them your own, or even worse…
- outsource your content to the Philippines
- sit back and watch the money roll in (to their pockets!)
- lather, rinse, repeat
I have a much better way of blogging!
- Find out what you are passionate about, good at, or just plain enjoy
- Write about that!
So what do you blog about? Remember back in the first section when we talked about finding your “why” before you start a blog? Blog about your why!
Isn’t that interesting?
People like to hear from others who are passionate about something! If you are really interested in what you are blogging about, that is going to show in your writing. And people will want to read it.
The opposite is true as well. Nothing will make me jump from a page faster than insincerity. Well, maybe that and too many pop-up ads...
If you’re still stuck on what to blog about, check out the article on Finding Your Passion.
3. WHO Are You Trying to Reach?
Now you know why you’re going to write (because you just can’t NOT talk about keto dieting, m.i.right?!).
And you know what you’re going to write (hopefully, something about why you’re writing).
So now you need to figure out who you’re going to write to.
And why, you ask, do you need to know who will be reading your blog? (you did ask that… right?)
The people that you want to read your blog are your “target audience”, as they are the ones for whom you are creating your content. In other words, they are who you will be talking/writing to.
You need to know who your target readers are before you start a blog because:
- It will be much easier for you to write if you know that you are writing to/for someone.
- It will help you define what you are going to blog about.
- People who read your blog will enjoy it so much more if it seems like you are talking to them.
- Monetizing your blog will be much easier if you know who your “target market” is.
As an example, let’s say you are passionate about dog-training and want to start a blog about that. Writing as if you were talking to a make-believe someone who actually has a dog would be much easier than just writing something about dogs. It will also make you more comfortable and the words will be much easier to find.
Write as if you were talking to a friend, client or just fellow human who shares what you find interesting. Make your posts/articles conversational, not boring.
4. WHEN Are You Going to Blog?
It takes commitment to have a successful blog, no doubt about it.
One of the keys to running a successful blog is consistency. Once word about your awesomeness starts to get around and you get some followers, they’re going to want to hear from you on a regular basis. So figuring out a couple of timing issues before you start a blog is a great idea.
Some people post an article every day (ain’t nobody got time for that!), while some post a couple of times a week. Being on a schedule will help people know when they can expect something from you and they’ll keep coming back.
For a while I didn’t post anything on any kind of schedule and believe me, people quit showing up to your blog. Before you start a blog, decide how often you want to blog.
You also need to decide when you will create content (pictures, articles, posts, etc) to put on your blog. The best way to ensure that you stick with it is to carve out some regularly scheduled time on your calendar. Pick a date/time/place where you will write.
You don’t have to write every day (although it’d sure be good if you did), but you should get into a regular routine so you don’t get sidetracked.
Consistency is key!
5. WHERE are you going to host your blog?
I know, I know… it seems a bit early to be hopping down this road when you don’t even have a name picked out. But this is one that you need to get right. Before you start a blog.
Spend the literally few bucks a month to get a good hosting provider and your own domain name. Yes, you can set up a blog for free, but it is not a good idea in the long run.
You don’t want to be fighting speed or compatibility issues or find yourself waiting days for technical support if you have issues.
And you want to get a hosting setup where you control the content. Where you own the domain name and can change to a different hosting provider if you want to.
That platform should also be well supported, proven and reliable. I won’t get into the battle between blogging platforms, but pretty much every blogger out there will tell you the same thing. WordPress.org, not wordpress.com.
You need to pick a platform that you own, that you can control, and that is going to have the resources to make sure your blog is:
For me, there is really only one choice. Bluehost
They have hosted a bunch of my sites over the years. I have from time-to-time gone searching for alternate hosts, but I keep coming back to the proven leader.
If you can’t swing Bluehost, you can also check out Hostgator, whom I’ve had great service with for customer sites.
Namecheap has recently gotten into the hosting game and offers decent hosting at an amazing price. I keep all of my names registered there and currently also host a couple of sites with them. Just for fun. Follow this link and check them out.
If you are super-techy and looking for a high-speed VPS solution, check out SSDNodes. I recently switched this site to them and they. are. amazing.
**If you follow these links through and purchase a hosting plan, I will indeed get a few bucks. But that doesn’t affect the price you pay at all. It just enables me to keep doing what I love. THIS!
6. HOW are you going to get started?
Now that you have all your news reporter information (who what when where why), it’s time to get down to business.
But how do you do that?
You’ve got a great idea, are bursting with all kinds of ideas and motivation, have picked a great hosting company, and designed a great schedule that you’ve committed yourself to. What’s the next step?
I recommend that you do what I did before I launched this blog and get the best training available. Learn from someone who has successfully launched not just a blog that makes them over $175,000 per month (gasp!), but who have also mastered the social media and marketing necessary to make your blog a success.
I highly suggest you start with the best. That would be the training provided by Alex and Lauren from Create and Go. Start with the first course Launch Your Blog, and get your blog started right!
Tell Me Why
I’m really interested in finding out why you started/want to start a blog. Drop me a comment below and tell me your “why”!
C’mon. It’ll be fun!