Five Questions You Should Answer Before You Start a Blog
You might have considered starting a blog as a creative outlet, you might be thinking of making money out of blogging or you have a business and have read that an online presence might help your offline business.
Whatever your reason at first glance the task can seem overwhelming when you realise there are so many aspects to consider when getting started for the first time.
Some of the questions that might be buzzing around in your head…
- How do I choose a topic?
- Which platform should I use?
- How will I promote my blog?
- How much time do I have to commit?
- Can I maintain an interest in it?
The examples above are just the beginning of the many decisions facing you, and it is important that they are answered for your smooth transition into the world of blogging.
The real issue with blogging is not the mechanics of it because you only have to learn this once. All you need to do is tackle the setting up of the site one step at a time, you just ask yourself what is the first thing I need to know… then you go and learn about it, you put your newly learned knowledge into practice, and when you feel comfortable progress to the next step.
The main problem that will most likely concern you after the initial learning curve is commitment and getting your blog out there… finding the visitors. You need readers, lots of them; otherwise you might just as well walk away from your blog, and we will touch on these points.
As I previous pointed out the best way to tackle blogging if you are new to it is, one step at a time. So let’s take away the mystery by focusing on the important components of starting a blog by dealing with the questions above.
A Topic of Interest
So just what is your blog going to be about? The importance consideration here is to blog about something that you are truly interested in. Starting with a topic that excites you is extremely important for your first blog and for a very good reason.
With your first attempt you are learning and success will not come easily – well for most of us it doesn’t – and as you struggle through the months there will be many times that your interest will wane and you will feel that it is too difficult to go on, actually you might even think of giving it up and here is where a lot of people actually do throw in the towel.
However, if you are excited by the topic that alone can be enough to keep you going through those dark hours. So start your first blog based on your interest.
When you think about it, doing all your learning with a blog that encompasses your interest immediately eliminates one block to your success and it is the one of motivation… that you enjoy what you are doing is enough to help you maintain interest.
Making Money with your Blog, would be very nice indeed but a word or caution, leave this aspect until later when you are familiar with the mechanics of it all. Learn how to set up the site and how to get visitors, only then, when you have a horde of visitors can you really start thinking of monetizing your blog; there is little point if you have only half a dozen visitors every month.
Making money really it is harder than what some make it out to be and if you are learning about blogging as well as trying to make money it is a sure way of heading for disaster by taking too much on at once, so take it easy and make it easy on yourself… you know, all in good time.
Choosing the Platform to play on
There is the free way and the paid way. You can start with the free to get a feel for blogging but I think it is better to go the paid route and my main reason is that the blog is yours to do with as you wish and it cannot be taken down. You are free to monetize your blog any way you wish and you have more scope with the design of you blog to reflect your blog intentions.
The Paid Way gives you more choice and greater functionality. There are a ton of free themes available and even designer themes that are very cheap, along with many plugins that allow you to customize your blog in any way you see fit.
The most important point to consider is your branding. If you are serious about getting an online presence you will want to brand yourself or your business this is the main reason for choosing paid hosting.
Think about how you can build your brand, identify your name or company, make your blog memorable, reflect what your blog is about or capture the spirit of it by carefully considering the domain name.
The following URL is easier to remember and looks far more professional
Than a URL created from one of the free sites as the example shows below
I recommend jumping in at the deep end and start learning about everything you need to know by going the self hosted route using WordPress.org which is free and open source. Don’t mistake it for WordPress.com which is a free platform.
There is a lot of help on the internet about the mechanics of setting up WordPress and once you have worked through the stages and absorbed all you need you will continue to grow. The cost to setting up your blog is not exorbitant about $10 for a domain and about $8 for hosting even less if you purchase annually.
The Free Way can be a good option if you are just testing the waters, but remember you do not really own the blog, there are some restrictions placed on you and you can lose your blog if you do not adhere strictly to their rules.
With some of the free sites you have to be very careful about how you monetize your blog and indeed you cannot run Google Adsense on WordPress.com whereas you can with BlogSpot, but here they forbid some types of ads so you should read their terms and rules to avoid having your site banned.
There are quite a few free blogging sites out there with a variety of features.
Here are four if you choose to go this route…
There are pros and cons with each of the services so read their terms.
For complete instructions on setting up your first blog follow this
How will you promote your blog?
Getting traffic and is really the hardest of all of your blogging tasks – well for most people. Driving traffic is the area where you will be spending most of your time and following are a few tips to help you increase traffic to your blog.
To get those visitors you need to be seen. You can advertise your blog through social sites, Facebook, Twitter. Submit articles to a few of the better directories and guest posting on popular blogs.
Here is a link to my post on making Facebook pages to help your traffic.
Guest posting is an excellent way to advertise your blog, but your content must be outstanding for it to be accepted. If you are writing for a blog that has a huge market then readers who like what you have to say might click over to your site to read more of what you have to say.
One of the most important tasks you will need to complete on a regular basis is to product relevant awesome content!!!! Absolutely a must do, if you want to capture and maintain visitor interest.
Writing interesting useful posts for your targeted audience will make them want to come back and read more – if your posts are worthy they will share their findings helping you market your site, so ensure your content grabs your readers attention.
Here are a few examples of Danny Iny’s guest posts that are certainly worth reading.
Time and Commitment = Success
Assuming you have the traffic then you have an audience of people who like your blog.
And if you did your homework when your blog was in its conception then you will have a fairly good idea of how to monetize it. Your choice of how to do this will be determined by the type of blog you have created. Following are a few ways to think about…
- Affiliate marketing
- Develop your own product
- Google Adsense
Look around at other blogs that are similar to yours and see if you can learn from the various ways they are presented, from what is posted on them and how they are monetized.
As you see your traffic growing make sure you set in motion a way of communicating with your visitors and find out what they want and give it to them. Being approachable, transparent, honest is a very good way to start
How much work will it be? A lot! I make no bones about it, you will work it over and over again and more. If you want it to be successful you will make it your part of your life for the life of the blog. It is like having children really, he is /she is /they are /… always with you.
Maintain the Momentum
Can you maintain interest? Yes you can whether you love your subject or are just middling about it. If you are interested in the subject of your blog you will love working on it. If you build a blog on a topic you are not too familiar with it will be more difficult, however treat it like any business venture and as your blog becomes successful and you are making some kind of income from it you will not want to let it go.
Start with something that you love and commit to it fully even if you cannot see success in the immediate future. If this blog fails just think of all that you have learned from it and keep going, make another one, mimic other blog styles, read good blogs, think about how you can improve and keep going and go all in.
On the subject of learning how to master WordPress, Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing recommends to ‘just get in there and do it’, solid advice indeed.
Danny is a prolific writer who has written guest posts for many of the big name blogs, he is a successful blogger in his own right who has published a series of videos answering all questions pertaining to blogging.
Have a look at the following video to hear what Danny has to say about this subject.
What are the best ways to learn WordPress?
You know not all of your attempts will be successful but what have you got to lose, time and a bit of money, but if you don’t try then you have gained nothing. So get out there and play with wordpress.
Remember if your blog is not a success, either drop it and move on, or nurse it through the hard times if you really think you have something salvageable… it is your baby.