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If you are thinking about starting a blog, come on down, the water is fine. Many people start blogs every day. Some have modest hopes of gathering a small, enthusiastic readership. Others have visions of thousands of dollars flowing from their golden keyboard.
Well, good luck with all of that. I hope all your wishes come true. Starting a blog can boost your business, your reputation, your career, and even your pocketbook. Before you jump in, consider a couple of things.
Starting a New Blog: Things to Consider
1) Assess Your Commitment
This is really the starting point for all adventures. Do you have the commitment to see this through? The answer boils down to more than one thing, of course. Do you have the time to do this? Do you have the drive to make this happen over a given period? One doesn’t have to commit for a lifetime, after all, but you should have something in mind. It may be just for a season you’re in, or because of an opportunity that has come up.
Whatever it is, mark that in your mind. It’s important for keeping you moving forward. Many a blogger has quit within a month or three or six months. Some sign up and never post a single article. What’s your commitment?
2) Define Your Goals
If point one was about commitment, then the first follow up question is “committed to what?”. Why are you writing? And what do you hope to achieve through the blog? It’s down to motivation and expectations. Some potential goals are to teach, or to get the word out about your services and/or products, or to share your views or ideas. Is a central purpose or goal of your site to make money?
What are your goals? It would be great if they were written down, well defined, and posted where you can see them. They’re a reminder later of what you wanted to accomplish.
3) Select the Platform You Need
The technology needs to be able to support your goals, so keep this in mind. Some blogging platforms will handle every type of goal you can imagine, while others are geared toward a specific end and not others.
For example, a Silvrback or Medium are geared toward non-monetary publishing. They’re true blogging platforms. Whereas a WordPress or Wix will be capable of supporting most any type of goal you have. A Wix, for example, has a blog feature, but it’s really a secondary product for them – they do websites. Just an example, not a diss or recommendation of the product.
4) Choose a Niche
There is some debate about this, at least in terms of how ‘nichie’ to get. But the idea is to focus on a relatively specific target audience so as to more readily create content appropriate to that audience. This is in contrast to writing to anyone and everyone and thus, to no one.
It’s easier to judge the relevance of a topic when you have in your mind who you are writing to. Over time of doing this, you are branding the blog. This will be evident in search engine results, as well.
Now depending on the goals for the blog, you will want to be responsive to the fact that you need a certain potential audience size to accomplish particular goals, such as income from the blog. Too narrow of a focus will limit the income potential of your blog, for example. This is part of the debate mentioned earlier regarding the possibility of too narrowly defining your audience.
5) Know Your Audience Better
It’s important that you know who your audience is. This comes with learning what your readers respond to and the responses they give. It is a process, not a one-time event. Now it isn’t that they will be a monolithic group all wearing the same hairstyles and clothing, and talking the same way.
It would be helpful, however, to be able to create a profile of a typical or ideal audience member – call them your core reader. Who are they, what do they do for a living, how much money do they make, lifestyle, etc? There will be secondary and even more peripheral readers, but something ties them together around what you will write about, and you will tend to focus on that core group. The better you can do this, the more on point your content and style can become.
You’ll be talking to your kindred spirits here.
6) Monetize It
Once you get a fair amount of content on your blog it may be time to think about how you will monetize it. This assumes, of course, that that is a goal for the blog. You don’t have to wait until everything is fully loaded, but get some meaningful stuff up there and start learning how to sell online.
The reality is that most aspiring bloggers may talk about wanting to make money, but aren’t really too serious about doing what it takes to make it – they just want to write. So, be clear on this as early on as possible.
7) Consistency Wins
When you first start a blog, in whatever niche, it’s important to keep adding content, or keep creating products for your customer. What is that magic number? Who knows. But it tends toward more is better.
More means posting more often and with more meaningful content. SEO folks call it quality of content, matched with quantity. Over the years, quantity has come to mean the depth of content in the articles posted. Whereas 250-word articles may have been good 10 years ago, it’s much higher today. Depending on who you read, some evidence suggests that 1000 word posts tend to rank higher than lesser amounts in search engine results.
As to how often you should post. Well, again, hard to say. But out of sight is out of mind, which means that your reader only remembers you if you keep your blog in front of them, and that with a consistent stream of new content. Weekly is wonderful, monthly is probably a minimum. It will depend on the type of blog and thus, audience expectations.
More importantly, choose a frequency of posting that you can be consistent with over time. If it is the first Tuesday of each month, make it happen.
8) Don’t Give Up
Whether you write for fun or profit, reaching your measure of success will likely take time. And the road is strewn with bloggers who just ran out of gas somewhere too soon. Back to that commitment issue we spoke about earlier, and goals. What outcome do you want, and do you have the resources necessary to hang in there until you reach it?
Starting your first blog should be exciting. And the journey of writing over time will have its ups and downs, but in the end , it should be rewarding. If not, why are you doing it?
Get started. You’re only a ‘beginner blogger’ once.