Start A Blog
Starting a blog is easy. There are several great platforms to choose from when starting out, from WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr. Each of which intuitive, easy to use, accessible for both beginners and professionals, and all of which are free. It’s never been easier to start a blog than it is now.
Starting a blog is one thing, but starting blog in which you wish to grow and build and audience from, consistently offer free value in terms of knowledge or entertainment, have repeating visiters who return to your blog is something that takes a more effort, planning, and commitment. If you want an audience who values your word/content and views you as an expert in that area, you will need to dedicate a substantial effort into the planning and future of your blog.
Before you begin, you should ask yourself: What is the end goal with this blog?
A long-term plan to grow a successful blog means knowing what content you wish to post and to what audience or demographic you’re targeting.
“If your target audience is everybody, your real audience is nobody” – Seanwes
Do you know how to promote your blog to an audience, do you even know what audience you want to have? Are you planning on setting up social media channels to promote the blog? Do you know the most opportune time to post to these channels so your audience can see it? Do you know what content you wish to write about? Are you afraid that you don’t have enough content and ideas to write about in the long-term? Are you afraid people won’t like what you are posting?
These are the kind of questions you have to ask yourself before you want to start a commitment to a blog in the long-term. You wont need to worry about these questions if you have a recreational blog that you maybe post once in January, then maybe again in March, and maybe in September. That’s a blog for your own enjoyment. I’m talking about setting up a blog long-term to be as successful as it can be. Don’t think that even people who post memes, e-cards, funny captions as blogs/Facebook posts haven’t got a long-term plan in mind. These pages/blogs are successful and popular because they are thinking about the long-term.
Are you thinking, “What if I put in all this effort to write valuable content but nobody is reading it, so what’s the point?”.
The fact that you’re thinking about posting valuable content is a great thing. There are far more consumers in the world than producers, so don’t think in those terms. If you post valuable content that aims to solve problems, help, teach, or entertain people, this is valuable to someone somewhere. Somebody will get value from that information, even if you don’t directly see it from something tangible like hearts / likes / comments on the post. The internet is filled with silent admirers.
Are you afraid of dedicating time to showing up and writing a post on a consistent basis? I wrote about dedicating your time to focus in post #31: Dedicating your time to Focus and Limit Distraction. We make time for the things that we care about. Think about the things that you care about, your family, friends, a sport or hobby. You make time in your week for these things. You commit yourself to them because you are passionate about them. They are the things that make you happy. This is the mindset you need to adopt when you want to make a commitment to something long-term. So how do you do this?
You need to be passionate about the thing you want to write about. Write about your passion.
This is the only way you will be committed to showing up every week, every day to. This is the first step to beginning a blog. Discover what you are passionate about, and even passionate enough to write about. The drive for your passion will spill over into writing about that passion. Writing about something you don’t like, even if you know about that subject, because its popular or will get a lot of likes or views online is the quickest way to kill a blog and the passion for writing.Why write about something you don’t like?
How and when should you start a blog? If you want to be known as an influential figure, someone who offers a lot of value, and is knowledgable in the area you are talking about in your blog. Here is how you set up a long-term blog for success;
- Writing – It all starts with writing.Showing up and sitting down at your desk to write physically. Never delve straight into the text editor on your blog. Writing physically helps you to dump your ideas down as quickly as possible and gives you a template to work from when you go digital. You can transcribe straight from the notebook and onto your blog. By starting physically, it allows you to expand and craft a story. You can be detailed, review what you want to keep and what you can drop from the post. Consider it as a sketching phase.There’s a tendency to ‘edit-as-you-go’ when you are writing in a text editor, which slows down the process considerably, but if you have the content already written, reviewed, and notes taken on what you want to include, all you have to do is transcribe the work straight to a digital environment. It also means that you will have a physical copy of your blog posts as you are posting them. A great way to then create a book about your posts.
- Content – What do you write about? Like I mentioned above, write about something you are passionate about, something you have a lot of knowledge about already. This makes it easier to show up and write about it. If you like photography, food, restaurants, computer hardware, surfing, gardening, no matter what it is, being passionate about the subject makes it easier to show up and write about it. Half the battle is showing up in the first place.Imagine somebody you never met before comes up to you and says, “I hear you like ‘x’, that’s really interesting, can you tell me more about it?”.This is where you start when deciding what topics to write about in your passion. If you’re not sure which one to go with, just pick one and start. You can talk about anything to do with your passion; how you go into it, what it is, its history and where it originated, reviews, previews, tools/equipment you use for it,your process with it, your best experience of it, how other people can get the best experience from it, a comparison of 2 things in it. you can teach people, how do they get into it, what are the best practices or techniques in it, ‘how-to’ and tutorials, You can journal your experience of it and create story as you go along with your goals in it.There are hundreds of topics to write about. You will find that when you start, you will come up with hundreds of other topics that you can write about. At the beginning, you can write about simpler topics, to introduce people to the blog, but as you go further and longer into the blog, you can become more specialised and post more advanced topics about your passion.
- Consistency; This is how you plan a long-term blog for success. You need to post on a consistent basis. The best way to post when staring off is on a weekly basis. People think on a weekly schedule. Choose a time of the week that you want to post and make sure you post at that time, every time. Or to get more advanced, you can post at the most optimum times that people will see your content. The best of the best in the industry you are posting about will be posting daily, but you will find that the vast majority of times, it’s because its their job, and main source of generating income. But for now, just stick with posting as a hobby, or assisting with your career.Think of your favourite show, it’s on the same channel, at the same time, every week. This is the mindset you have to adopt when posting your blog. To change the posting schedule without notifying your audience, or to post sporadically increases the chance that people may miss the post. People don’t know when to tune in, or to expect when to see it. People don’t like surprise, it needs to be filed in peoples minds as to when they can expect your post so they can make time for it, and becomes routine.To post inconsistently means that people wont be sure if you’re still doing it, if you’re serious about it, if you missed a week, of if they missed a week. The less people have to think about or question the schedule, the easer it is for them to consume the content. Pick a time, and make sure people know that time, post it at the end of your blogs, make it the first sentence in your social media posts, first thing on your website. Anything to make people away of the posting time so they know when and where.
- Curating; Just as important as consistency, curating you blog to post only on your chosen topic is what separates your blog from the rest of the noise posted online. It lets your audience know that you are serious about your passion and establishes you commitment and professionalism to that passion. It stems from your audience and how they process you and your content. People are going to pigeon-hole you and that’s not a bad thing. It’s something you have complete control over. People need to categories the things they consume, it’s easier to fathom something when you can categories it. Think of industries, stereotypes, genres of entertainment etc. They all have traits that they are known for. And you blog is going to be one of them.For example, if you just post about snowboarding, people will internalise you as ‘the snowboard guy’ when they see your content in their feeds. It means they can come to expect something from you, the same thing. It’s a given that you will post about it, which means its easier for people to find, and easier for them to consume. You set the expectations. And when expectations are set, people know what they are getting. It goes without saying that people like to know what they are getting.If you’re posting unrelated content on your blogs or social media outlets. It’s harder for people to fathom, and will be difficult for people to categories you and your outlets. Thus, making people unlikely to know what they are getting with you and adding to the thinking required to figure you out. Making it much more likely that people won’t return or visit your blog/site/social media at all.For example, If you have images of your passion that you are posting seriously about, in which you want to build an audience from, but also have images of your cats, last nights dinner, a picture form your latest holiday, a selfie from when you were on a night out with friends. People can see these things anywhere, but they come to you because they want to see the valuable content you have to offer about your passion. This is what will attract others who are passionate about the same subject. They want value from a knowledgable source on the subject. This is why they will come back and consume even more.In the future, when you have a loyal following and gain some traction, being a recognised figure in your field, people will want to know more about your life and the behind the scenes, but not when you are a ‘nobody’. This is called ‘celebrity psychology’. On the beginning, you must only post related content.
These 4 points will help you start a blog and keep you on the road to success. The hardest part is showing up. Don’t be afraid to be niche or post about what you may think is a small subject, the world is a large place, filled with people with similar interests to you even if you think there is nobody that will like your content. There will be somebody, somewhere that likes it and gets value from it.
In the beginning it may not gain a lot of traction, but when you post consistently, you slowly become a figure in the industry, and will build a loyal audience who value your word on a specialised subject. Don’t be afraid to post about something that may be done a thousand times before. That doesn’t matter. You have your own unique process and story to tell within that realm, you do things differently from other people who are already established in that subject, it also give you an advantage because you know what could be improved upon if you start posting about similar topics.
Never start a blog (or anything, even a business) with the aim to make as much money as you can from it. It’s the quickest way to kill a passion. Then what will you be left with. A blog you hate, a passion that has dissipated, and no motivation to make money from it anymore. You shouldn’t worry about making money because if you’re that passionate about it, you would do it for free anyway.
Start with the passion, start with showing up, be consistent, post valuable content, think long-term, make relationships with your audience, and talk to people who reach out to you.