Navigating your way through the countless blogs and article-based websites is quite an undertaking. There are so many incredible sources of information out there, but as with anything, there are also a myriad piles of pooh. In order to stand out as a blogger, you need to offer something special so that your voice can be heard above the others. It’s quite an exciting venture – starting a blog. But rather than running in full speed with your head down ready to crunch the impact, doing a little planning will get the process started smoothly.
I’ve put together five things to consider before starting a blog. As a blog writer myself, with a number of failed and fabulous experiments under my belt, these are the points that I would take into account before blogging my heart out.
1. Decide On A Niche That Interests You
It’s the core of everything you are going to be doing, so make sure your blog is centred around a topic that you’re actually interested in. I love writing, travel, yoga and wellness, so I have four blogs – one on each subject. These are where my passions lie, so I’m always ready to throw myself into writing blog posts for each one. If you choose a niche simply because you feel it will generate traffic then you might find it a chore to actively pursue writing. However, that is your decision. If you want to write on something that’s trending for the sake of growing the exposure for your website or business, then so be it… but try and find an interesting angle to write from.
You can actually “feel” when a blog has been written with fervour or if it’s simply been produced. Written is from the heart and from a space of fire and passion, produced is poured out into words for the sake of meeting a requirement. Try and deliver on the former to keep your users engaged and interested in what you have to say.
2. Define Your Audience And Offering
You’ve found your niche, now who will you be talking to and what’s the purpose of the blog? Defining who you are talking to will help you stay focused on a particular theme. As an example, I write about health and fitness for mothers and working women who don’t have time to devote to their wellbeing. I write from the perspective of being a busy, working mother seeking out personal wellbeing, because that’s who I am. So I have experience on the subject and I am also an ardent fan of finding ways to improve my life with the limited time and resources I have at my disposal. My personal lessons become my blogs, and the people I am appealing to are those in similar situations to mine.
In order to find a niche that will serve you and your readers equally, start by looking at your interests. What is it that you want to learn more about and could see yourself writing about, day in and day out? If you’re an Internet marketer, then it would make sense to write about trends and topics within that realm. If you’re a teacher, it could be a great idea to write about teaching methods or tips and tricks for easy learning in the classroom.
Knowing who you are writing for makes defining topics and categories so much easier. It also prevents you from straying off the path, so to speak. It’s easy to get distracted by current events and pop culture, and before you know it… you’re writing about Kim Kardashian’s choice in underwear on a blog that’s supposed to be devoted to politics. Keep it simple, keep it focused and you will grow and keep your readership.
3. Decide On A Name For Your Blog
Now that you’ve nailed down the foundation of your blog, what will you call it? The name of the blog should also be reflected in the domain name, so it’s best to keep it as short as possible but still speaking about your brand and what it is you offer.
A clever name or play on words might be lost in translation when it comes to speaking about your blog. As an example, a school up the road from me is called “Little Fishes”. They get countless enquiries about swimming lessons, which they don’t offer. But it’s easy to see why the public might mistake this business for a swimming school as the name – albeit very cute – speaks to underwater life and not typical schooling. The converse of this is that they could also be losing a lot of potential business from people seeking out a school, but thinking this establishment is devoted only to swimming.
Take your time with this and map out a few options before you make your decision. If you’re really stuck, try and think about something that covers these three points:
- Speaks to your brand / business or blog
- Could also generate a decent flow of traffic from people searching for your topic
- Can easily be translated into a domain name that is available
4. Book Your Domain And Social Handles
Once you’re absolutely certain you’ve got the name down, then it’s time to book your domain name. This could also become a part of the process when deciding on a name. If you cannot find your domain name to match the blog, it might make sense to choose something else. You want to try and be unique and it doesn’t bode well if someone has already staked their claim on your chosen name.
Book your domain name in .com and in your country’s local code too – mine is .co.za. This way you can appeal to both local and international readership. If you’re strictly local then booking your local country code makes sense, but you can also prevent others from stealing your name by buying the .com too and simply redirecting it to your local domain.
Book your social channel handles too, even if you’re not sure if you’ll use them. If you are starting a blog for business reasons, then you absolutely should be booking your name on the most popular social channels too. For all my blogs, the moment I’ve booked the domain I go and reserve a page name on Facebook, choose a handle on Twitter and the same handle on Instagram. You can select the channels that will work for you, but these are my top three. Try and reserve your domain name across the board for consistency’s sake. I know this isn’t always possible, but for those instances where you have to get a little creative with your social handles, try and keep them as close to your domain / blog name as possible.
5. Choose A Reputable Platform, Format And Theme
Finding a content management system or blogging platform that suits you is the final step before you can actually start writing your blog. I use WordPress and I adore its ease of use and multiple options, but some people prefer other channels and avenues. Blogger is also easy to use too, but I found it to be very limited with regards to customisation. You might also prefer something like Tumblr, which is also really simple to use, but again… I find it has limitations on what I (personally) want to be able to do with a blog space.
Do some research into what other people in a similar niche are using. You might find that your area of focus is better suited to a specific platform. The benefits with each one are different, but most platforms will allow you to use your own custom URL, which is paramount. You can also search through the available themes on each platform to see what best suits your needs. It’s possible that this drives your decision more than the platform itself.
There are millions of themes out there and it can become a bit overwhelming, so try and have an idea in mind before setting out and trying to search for one. Do you want a one-pager? A magazine layout? Or typical blog layout? Search within the categories you prefer to dull down the noise offered by all the available options.
Some pointers to consider when choosing a theme for your blog:
- Make sure it’s mobile friendly
- Ensure it has a decent amount of downloads and positive ratings
- Opt for simple over elaborate. Elaborate themes have a greater likelihood of breaking
- Make sure it’s going to suit your content
Once you’ve got the groundwork covered, it’s time to write your first blog. Add photos and images that suit your brand and the personality of your blog and start making the magic happen. Best of luck!