So, you like to write, you have things you want to say, and you believe you can make some money out of it too. You’ve decided to start a blog. Good for you!! But if you are anything like I used to be when I started out as a newbie blogger, and know next to nothing about how to start a blog, then hold on for a minute. A lot of new bloggers get discouraged and give up, because they have not done any groundwork before starting a blog and don’t really know what to expect. Because I don’t want that happening to you, here’s a checklist of the things that you should know before starting a blog.
1. Blogging takes a lot of effort
Seriously, this is one of the primary things I wish I knew before starting a blog. Do not be fooled into thinking for one moment that it’s as easy as it looks. You need to put in time and energy into writing, rewriting, editing, researching, sourcing images, etc. Once published, you also have to spend time promoting your blog on various networks. Be prepared to work hard. Of course, with Missinglettr, you can set up your blog promotions to run pretty much on auto-pilot, so do make sure you utilise these features to save you time and effort.
It's not just that you’ll need to put in a lot of effort, you will also need to have the mental strength to be consistent and patient, since you may not have much of an audience in the beginning. Unless you are already established in your field, it can take months to get a significant base established, especially if you have chosen a very crowded niche. Speaking of which...
2. Blogging is not the easiest way to make money
We all read about bloggers that have made tons of money online just through their blogs. Yes, it can be done, and you can definitely get there. However, know that reaching that point will take sustained years of work and patience. Before you start a blog, just be clear that if all you want to do is start earning quickly, then there may be other, faster ways to do it than starting a blog. But start a blog for the right reasons, and earning should follow.
3. Choose a niche
There are millions of blogs out there, and the only way to stand out in the noise is to have a niche and stick to it. What is a niche, exactly? In terms of blogging, a niche is simply a specific and narrow topic that all your content will revolve around. With your niche defined, you will be better able to identify who your ideal readers are, and how you should target them with your content. Writing for a niche will help you attract readers that are genuinely interested in that specific topic. As an example, if you want to write about healthy eating, instead of having a blog about healthy eating (broad topic), you could set up your blog to be about keto recipes (niche topic).
Before starting a blog, think of all the topics that you are both knowledgeable as well as passionate about. Those are the topics around which you will be able to produce good and engaging content. It’s also easier to sustain motivation when you’re blogging about something you love. Because trust me, even if you love blogging, there will be days when you will struggle with motivation and self-doubt. Remember to ask yourself if you have it in you to blog about your chosen topic every week (or day or month, as you prefer) for the next few years.
Your shortlist of topics can now be further pruned by figuring out those topics on your list that you can actually make money writing about. Unless you never plan to monetise you blog, you must at some point have a plan to generate an income from it. So, before you start the blog, work out how you will eventually plan to make money out of the content you create for the selected niche topic.
4. There is no harm in starting small
If you are starting a blog for the first time, it is possible that you are not entirely sure how things will go. You might love it, or you might decide after a few weeks or months that blogging isn’t really your thing. So, you can always start small with a free site, and no fancy bells and whistles. Both WordPress and Blogger are great platforms where you can start blogging with a free account. You could even start writing on platforms like Medium. Take your time to explore blogging and figure out if this is something you would like to continue with. You can always go in for commitments like self-hosting and paid plans afterwards. In fact, once you are sure that you are into blogging for a longer run, it definitely makes sense to go self-hosted.
5. Nothing beats great content
Your audience will come to you for what you write, not because you have a killer blog theme or a funny blog name. The best way to build an audience is to put up well written and engaging content, and to do so consistently. Interesting content gets shared, and gradually expands your reach. Here are some tips on how to build a blog that will keep your readers coming back for more:
Provide value:Create the kind of content that nobody else is in your niche is putting up, and you will not just win readers, but also Google. Write long, thoughtful, informative posts that aim to help your readers solve a problem or answer a question. Make your posts so useful that your audience saves and shares them!
Think about structure: The way your blog post looks is just as important as what it says. Break up your text into small chunks of short paragraphs, so that it is easy to read. Add a few well-chosen pictures that can break up the monotony of text as well as make your content more attractive and informative.
Read this for some great tips on how to structure an awesome blog post.
6. Blogging means going social
As a blogger, you will need to interact and connect with other bloggers – both within and outside your niche. This is a sure-fire way of expanding your network and reaching a larger audience. Bloggers form a well-knit community and regularly help each other out through link-outs, guest posts, social shares etc. I would recommend following other blogs, sharing their content on your social networks, and joining blogging communities online.
With a little planning, you can create an active social media strategy for various platforms – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. To make it even smarter, use the social media campaign functionalities that Missinglettr provides.
7. Be ready to learn new things
Unless you are already in a technical field, chances are that you will have to pick up a lot of new skills as you get serious about blogging. Every blogger needs to understand basic SEO and analytics, and keep abreast of the changes that keep happening, such as Google updates. The good news is that there are a ton of resources out there offering tips and guidance when it comes to the technical side of blogging. I would recommend the free and very useful content from Yoast and Moz to start with. You can also learn the basics of Google Analytics with a free online training from Google’s Analytics Academy.
8. Always be yourself
The most important thing to remember as you are starting your blog is to be real, and to let your readers see who you are. You need to develop and express your own style and voice, and not be afraid to say what you feel. Write about what you love, tell it like it is, and enjoy yourself. I know I said that blogging is hard work, but it’s the kind of hard work that can be really a lot of fun as well.
So, these are basically some things that I wish I knew before starting a blog! I hope you find these thoughts useful as you set about starting a blog for the first time. Once you get your first few readers, don’t forget to start working on an email list and, of course, plans for monetization. With the right processes and tools, it is all completely doable, so just get started. Good luck!