So you like to write, and you have things you want to say. You’ve decided to start a blog. Good for you!! But if you are anything like I used to be just a few months ago, and know next to nothing about starting 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.
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. Also, be prepared to not have much of an audience in the beginning. It will take months to get some sort of a base established, especially if you have chosen a very crowded niche. Speaking of which...
2. It’s not the easiest way to make money.
We all read about bloggers that have made tons of money online just through their blogs. Well, know that reaching that point will take years of work and patience. If you want to start earning quickly, there may be faster ways to do it than starting a blog. Blog for the right reasons, and if earning follows, great.
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. With your niche defined, you will be better able to identify who your ideal readers are, and how you should target them. You should write about something you are knowledgeable as well as passionate about, because that’s the only way 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.
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. Hence my suggestion to 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. Explore a little; figure out if this is something you would like to continue with. Only then go in for commitments like self-hosting and paid plans and stuff like that.
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.
6. Blogging means going social.
As a blogger, you 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 linkouts, guest posts, social shares etc. I would recommend following other blogs, sharing their content on your social networks, and joining blogging communities online.
7. You will need 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 courtesy Google. The good news is that there are a ton of resources out there offering tips and guidance. I recommend Moz to start with. More on this in a later post.
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. Develop your own style and voice, and don’t be afraid to say what you feel. Write about what you love, and enjoy yourself. I know I said that blogging is hard work, but it’s the kind of hard work that can be a lot of fun as well.
I hope you find these thoughts useful as you set about starting your own blog. In my subsequent posts I will cover next steps on this path. Do join in!