There are thousands and thousands of people that will start a blog today. Each one will have high hopes for the success of their creation. They will be dedicated, at least in the beginning. But in the end, most will let their blogs die, unable to consistently feed their new creation the diet of content needed for survival. How could this have been avoided?
If you are reading this, chances are that you are at least vaguely interested in how to start a blog. What steps do you take? Where do you go for answers? What is this blog thing everyone keeps talking about?
First off, what is a blog? According to Wikipedia, a blog is a personal journal published on the internet consisting of discrete entries or posts displayed in reverse chronological order. Does that make much sense to you? If not, a good working definition for me is this: A blog is a website that gets updated often. In the past, websites were very static; once built they rarely changed. Now, you and I want to interact on the web, not just read the same information that was published years ago. The benefit of a blog is the ever changing content. That’s what keeps visitors coming back. So, how do you start one?
So, you want to start a blog
There are many steps to starting a blog. You can just jump in and bypass several steps, but for a long-lasting creation, it is best to start intentionally. You need a plan. Not a big plan, but some kind of a goal in mind.
If you want to start a blog, answer these few questions:
- Will it be personal, business, or a combination of both?
- What do you want to talk about?
- Are you passionate about the subject?
Having trouble, let’s see if I can help.
Will it be personal, business, or a combination of both?
Do you have an existing business? Do you plan on starting a business? Does your job have a blog? A blog is a great way to talk about your company and provide value to your current customers and clients as well as the prospective ones. Many companies have recently made the decision to start a blog. Did yours?
Do you want to talk about parenting? Do you have a hobby or interest that you love to talk about? A personal blog is a good way to practice writing, interact with people having the same interests, and sharing your opinions with the world.
Of course, you can start a blog about anything and everything. You can have a little business here and a little personal stuff there (here a duck, there a duck, everywhere a duck duck…) The purpose of this question is to help define the platform, name and URL, and design.
What do you want to talk about?
There are subjects I can talk about for hours. And don’t get my wife started about goats. The subject of your blog needs to be something you can talk about for hours, days, or even weeks. It would help if you know of a group of people that are also that passionate about the subject but if you don’t, that’s OK (chances are you just haven’t found them online yet).
When you start a blog, the theme is important. It will guide you through post ideas, site design, and what products, services, and advertising you offer on your site. You can always post off topic, but if the whole blog is random, it will be more difficult to draw an audience.
Here’s a test; Think about the subject you want for your blog and write down 50 specific blog topics you want to write about. If you don’t get to 50 that’s OK, but keep trying. If you can only think of 5-10, that subject may not be a good one for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about it on your blog, just that you may want to go a slightly different direction or a little more broad. For example, let’s say I want to start a blog about the business practices of small children as they operate lemonade stands in the Midwest during a warm spring, I might find it hard to create more than a few posts. But, if my idea was to write about how children create businesses and how parents can encourage them, you can still write about that lemonade stand, but you have many more options.
Are you passionate about the subject?
Most of us don’t read blogs written by vaguely interested people. We want to feel the excitement and passion come out of the posts. That is what you are trying for. Everyone reading your blog should have no difficulty telling their friends what it is about. If you are not passionate about the subject, it will be more difficult to come up with post topics, post consistently, or put the time in need to grow the blog.
Besides, who wants to spend much time on something they don’t really like? What if you start a blog and it is a hit from the beginning, making tons of money? Do you want to continue writing about a subject just because you are making money? There are many things you can do, but forcing yourself to be creative for money is one of the more difficult.
It is a lot of work needed to start a blog and keep it going. You will get discouraged. You will get tired. You may get bored. There are few instant results. Most successful blogs take years to grow and develop into the giants they are now. Timing is important, but not crucial. To adapt a quote I heard months ago,
The best time to start a blog was in 2007-2008; the second best time is right now.
Start a blog – Action items
If you don’t have one yet, the best time to start a blog is right now. Here are some action items to get you started:
- Think about your subject
- Decide on your overall theme
- Compile a list of 25+ specific blog topics you want to write about
- Start writing a few posts in a text editor or word processor
This is the first in a seven part series on starting a blog. The next topic will be selecting a domain and setting up hosting. Other topics I will cover will include setting up WordPress, launching your blog, coming up with post ideas, and more. Now go and get started.
What are some good blog themes or post ideas you have? Leave me a comment
(photo by: Stuart Miles)