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If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve decided to start a blog, so congratulations!
But before you go on and sign-up for that free WordPress account and start writing those articles you’ve been thinking about for the past week, let me give you, what I think, are the 10 things you should be doing right now (if you haven’t already).
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Fernando Doglio at MyWritingCorner.Net
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Table of Contents:
Decide what you want when you start a blog
This is to me, the number one thing you should do once you decide the blog thing is actually going to happen.
Heck! Probably even before that, because it might even help you make up your mind and choose in favor of starting the blog.
So, what are you looking to get out of the blog?
- Is it money? Are you looking to make your blog a passive income source? Have you decided how this will happen? Did you research ways to make money out of your blog?
- Are you looking to make a name for yourself in your niche? Are you thinking about turning into an influencer in your field? Have you considered also the social aspects of this and what is it going to take?
- Maybe you’re just thinking about expressing yourself. Maybe you’re just looking for a place to write and share your writing, without really caring about who reads it or what they think about it.
- Or perhaps you’re just hoping having a place to write will help you improve a second language.
Whatever reasons for starting a blog you might have, try to make sure you’re conscious about it, because it should be the driving force for everything you do afterward (and that also includes, although not limited to, your writing).
Picking your niche
Once you’ve decided on what you want to get out of your blogging, you need to understand what topic you’ll be writing about.
For this step, some pro bloggers will recommend that you try to keep the topic (or niche) very narrowed, whilst others will also recommend that you can do several topics on the same blog.
The truth is, you need to understand your intended audience and gauge whether all the topics you’re trying to write about are of their interest.
What I mean by this is: it makes sense to write about fitness and also do gym equipment reviews, because a big portion of the readers coming for the fitness content, will probably benefit from the reviews.
On the other hand, if you’re writing about fitness and also about software development in Python, you might want to split those topics into two different blogs.
That way, by “niching down” (as they say), you’ll be focusing your sites on two different audience groups and making it easier for them to get the information they’re looking for.
For instance, developers reaching your homepage and seeing fitness articles might leave without actually noticing the software development links next to them.
Whatever you decide to do, in the end, it’ll be dependent, partially on your answer to point #1.
Because it makes no sense to niche down if you’re just trying to find a place to write your thoughts without really caring what others think.
On the other hand, if you’re really looking into making money you might consider splitting and diversifying your platforms.
Think about it.
Pick a name
Yeap, you can’t really start your blog without a name. Well, theoretically, you can, but most blogging platforms will require one.
So unless you’re going with something like Medium where a blog name is not required, or if you’re going the self-hosted route, you can postpone this step for a while.
Eventually, you’ll need a name, and once you decide on which one you want, do the following two things:
- Sleep on it. The name of your blog should be something that doesn’t sound boring the next day.
So my suggestion here would be writing down a list of names, leaving the list alone for at least a day, while you take care of the rest of these items, and then come back to it.
Remember, you’ll be stuck with it for a while, so make sure you like it.
- Google it. Everyone and their mothers are starting blogs every day, so make sure there aren’t a lot of blogs using your name already (and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to pick used blog names these days).
Don’t worry about the domain name right now (that’ll come in a second), just think about people eventually knowing about you and your blog, and looking directly for it, will you be the only result that pops up?
Or are you competing with others? If, as chances suggest, you do pick a name that is not unique, do a bit of competition research and check the first results real quick.
Are they updating regularly? Are they getting comments or likes? Are they on the same niche as the one you picked up on step #2?
If for any reason, you’re having a hard time coming up with a decent number of potential blog names, I would recommend googling “blog name generator”, and testing out some of the results.
They might not give you the actual name you’ll use, but they’ll give you some suggestions that you can use to spark up your imagination.
Once you have your name picked up the name, let’s pick up the hosting provider (yes, before actually buying the domain name, you should pick the right blogging platform).
Find the platform that works best for your needs
This is quite an important step because you want a provider that gives you everything you need. And what you need will depend on your answer to point #1.
That answer will help you filter through the huge number of hosting providers out there.
I’ve written a review of the top 6 blogging platforms out there to help you narrow down the list, however, maybe those 6 aren’t really what you’re looking for.
There is no way for me to suggest the one you should go with, without knowing more about you, your blog and your expectations for it.
And that is true for everyone, you’ll have to do the research yourself, with your answer to #1 in mind.
Pick your domain name and register it
Now that you’ve picked up the platform, you can safely pick and buy the domain name.
Why isn’t this step #4? Because there are blogging platforms that provide a free domain name when signing up, whilst others don’t.
You could for for a taken domain name, in which case you’ll have to contact the current owner and offer to buy it (which I wouldn’t recommend).
You can buy a .com domain name for somewhere between USD 15 to USD 20 a year.
Which as you can see, it isn’t a huge expense, and the best part, this step is optional!
If you’re not really interested in getting a domain name right now, you can simply go with the URL provided by the platform.
Pick the right hosting provider
Inline with step #4, once you have everything ready in the previous steps, you’re now ready to decide where your blog is going to live.
Remember in step #4 you decided the blogging platform, that could’ve made this step irrelevant if you went with something like Mediu.com, but if instead, you’ve settled for something like a self-hosted WordPress then this step is critical.
Again, there are too many options out there for me to directly suggest one, especially without knowing more about you and your blogging journey. I have written a review of the top 5 hosting providers out there, for you to decide.
The key in this step is to understand how much money you’re willing to spend, and how much traffic you’re hoping to get.
After that, you’ll see how there are many similar options, it’ll be up to you to pick one.
Select your blog’s theme
The way your blog looks it’s actually quite important. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Yes, content is king here and no amount of professional design will make up for a lack of quality content in a blog.
However, a terrible design might stop readers from enjoying your blog to the point where they don’t want to get back to it.
And depending on what you decided with for step #4, you might get more customization options or less.
In fact, some platforms out there won’t allow you to customize anything. They do provide a nice looking default set of styles, of course.
But if you wanted to stand out and personalize it, you won’t be able to.
Go social or go home
Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, to just name the ones that everyone knows, are only the start of the list.
The point here is that if the expectation of your blog is anything but to just have a place to post your writing, you’ll need a way to interact with your readers.
Even more, you’ll need to create some form of community around your blog, this is mainly because it’ll be a while before search engines start showing your pages are valid results.
Social platforms are perfect places to reach out to potential readers, by using them you can promote your articles, provide extra insight for your users or even help them by answering their questions or solving their problems.
Just remember to pick the right social media platforms for your niche. For instance, if you’re blogging about something visual, such as fitness, or food, or fashion, then Instagram is a perfect pick for one of your platforms.
However, if you’re blogging about “blogging” such as me, then Instagram might not be the right medium for you to share content.
So make sure you’re spending your time on the right place and targeting the kind of audience that would be interested in engaging with your content.
Find help: Facebook groups
Blogging can feel like a lonely practice, in fact, maybe you’ve decided for it because of that.
But if you’re just starting out, in fact, especially if you’re just starting out, asking others, more experienced bloggers for help is definitely a must.
How do you ask for help? There might be other options, but the one I’ve found works best is to find Facebook groups dedicated to learning how to blog.
There are some very successful bloggers out there that have started blogging groups which you can easily join and start asking questions.
Others also provide ways for you to share your content with others that will help you promote your articles with their audience. Essentially they allow you to grow your reach through their help.
Here are some examples, but you should google for Facebook groups within your niche to make sure you’re able to talk with others who’ve gone through exactly the same things you’re about to:
- Golden Bloggerz by Chris Kostopoulos
- Bloggers Camp by Arfa Nazeer
- Blogger Education Network by Tracie Fobes
- Blogging & Social Media Strategy by Shailaja V
Remember: This is going to take time
I left this for last, but it’s probably the most important one.
There is too much marketing material showcasing bloggers who’ve managed to make millions of dollars a year through their blogging activities.
They tell you about the “Perfect Pinterest strategy to increase your traffic 500x”, or how they’re making $ 10.000 dollars a month through affiliate marketing.
There is a lot of that going around, and in some cases, they’re true, but those are not the norm, instead, they’re the exception.
For the rest of us, success takes time and effort. You’ll need to put in the hours now if you want to get those types of benefits in the future.
But trust me, there are no magical niches where you can simply launch your blog and start driving in thousands of visits a day after one month.
It takes time, and if you’re not willing to work for it, then you should rethink your expectations.
Make sure you’re after realistic objectives, otherwise you’ll be disappointed soon and you’ll want to quit too soon.
If, however, you are willing to put in the effort, focus on the steps above, and once you have them, start writing.
Research your readers, try to understand the type of questions they might have, what kind of problems are they going through? Try to help them, and after a while, you’ll start seeing results.
Here are some recommendations to get you started with your first few blog posts.
Don’t worry about ads, or monetization, or traffic, just worry about writing; the rest will come naturally.
I know, I know, you were looking to start writing for your brand new blog and here I am, with other 10 things to do before you actually start typing your first word.
But trust me, any good journey requires having some form of direction, an end goal, anything that’ll steer you in the right direction, and these 10 steps are exactly that.
Once you’ve gone through them, you’re ready to start typing and never stop, just make sure you enjoy the process, make sure you’re having fun while you do it, otherwise your readers will notice!
Recommended Reading: 29 Free Blogging Courses for Beginners
In other words: make sure you have the right start so once you’re ready to do it, you’ll never stop!
If you liked what you read or if you have any questions, leave a comment below and let us know what’s on your mind!
Featured image from evrymmnt/Shutterstock