February 1, 2016

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 1

If you want to start a blog, you could be up and running within less than a day. But, speaking from experience, it is very important to take some time to start your blog properly. If you do, then you will have much more success, much quicker. If you don’t, your blog could end up being seen by only a handful of people, and unless you want it that way, that will be very disappointing.

This step-by-step guide is assuming that you want to learn how to start a blog that attracts people to it, which requires a little bit of work. So please don’t rush through any of the following steps. Take your time and get each step right before you move on to the next one.

Step 1: Define Your Blogging Goals

It’s important to define your intention behind your blog so you can figure out all the rest of the steps properly. Let me say first that if your goal is to cheat and lie and try to scam people from their money, you are going to fail. It’s better to waste your time doing something else, because you will be spotted quickly by the search engines as a spammer and you won’t be trusted by the people you try to scam. Yes, you may make a few dollars here and there, but in the end, you will lose everything. So don’t even bother.

Following are the most common blogging goals. Figure out what you intend to focus on because in later steps you will need an answer.

1. Make An Income

Do you want to make an income off your blog? If so, do you want to earn a part-time or full-time income from it? Get clear on that, because it will determine how much you need to work.

Contrary to popular belief, blogging requires work, just like any other job. Unlike any other job, the earning potential is limitless.

If you put some serious work into your blog, you will increase your earnings every single year. There may be some months where you don’t earn as much as other months, but when it comes to yearly income, it will increase if you are persistent on your blog.

You can make money on your blog from many different sources. We will talk about that in a later step, but for now here are a few avenues.

– Affiliate marketing
– EBook creation
– Product creation
– Brand deals
– Advertising

Make an income goal for the year. For the first year, it can be $1,000 to $50,000 or anywhere below or over. Don’t worry about making it too high. A higher goal will help you work harder towards it, and if you don’t reach it, you can always extend the amount of time you have to reach it once you get a feel for your blog. If you want this to be your full-time job, shoot for a number that you would really like to start making per year.

2. Support Your Business

If you are starting a blog to support a business you have, then you are making a great decision. Most people have become accustomed to look for business blogs, and if you have one, you are going to provide much more value than simply listing out what you have for sale on a website.

You can also start a blog to support a future business you are planning to create. As you go through the motions of setting up that business, blogging will help you build an audience. The blog will help you connect with potential customers, gain their interest, gain their trust, and eventually make sales off them.

Whether you already have a business or are creating one, a blog is a great investment.

3. Become Part Of A Community

Blogging may just be a habit you want to pursue so that you can share what you know with the world, and that’s totally cool! You will find many other people who are blogging for the sake of sharing their knowledge, artwork, interests, theories, and rants. You can be one of them and enjoy the interaction that comes from connecting with like-minded people.

4. Improve Your Writing Skills

Blogging is a great way to improve your writing skills. Not only will creating blog posts help you become more creative with your writing, but you will get LOTS of critique from people, and you can use it to write better and improve your grammar and spelling.

In addition, I know some people who had a dream to write books, but didn’t have the confidence to go out and do it, so they started a blog to test the waters. Some found that they enjoyed writing and some found that they hated it. Either way, it was an interesting way to make sure before they put themselves out there or wasted too much time.

Step 2: Define Your Audience

The goal of a blog is to get people to read it, whether you want to make money, get your business out there, or just get your opinion out there. An audience will help you feel like your efforts are paying off, and if you are trying to make money, an audience will help you do that!

Defining your audience now will help you in later steps, such as deciding what content you want to write and where you want your presence to be, so it is an important part of how to start a blog.

Who do you want your blog to reach? And, do you want to ensure that it doesn’t tick people off?

For example, Thug Kitchen uses a lot of profanity in their writing, even though they are writing about vegan recipes! It’s safe to say that there are some people who are going to be offended by this type of writing, so Thug Kitchen has to be aware that their audience is going to be vegans (or people trying to eat healthier) that don’t mind swearing (and there is a lot of it!), probably between the ages of 18-40. What is great about their blog, is that unlike many vegan blogs, theirs appeals to men and women instead of just women, so they technically can draw in a bigger crowd than a blogger who is just blogging about vegan cupcakes and how awesome their new cookware is.

So, some things to consider are:

– Do you want to attract people who like you? Or maybe they should kind of hate you? (You can create a huge blog either way.)
– Do you want to attract a certain age group?
– Do you want to attract people from a certain location?
– Do you want to attract women or men?
– Do you want to attract a personal growth crowd or a crowd that likes to complain?

Choose the type of people you would like to write to and talk to. You will find that reflecting on your audience will help you determine what kind of blog you really want to create, what type of name you want, what type of style you want, and so much more.

Step 3: Plan Your Schedule

Blogging takes time, and not everyone has the kind of time needed to blog full-time. It’s important you be realistic about how much time you can spend on your blog. You’ll find the time goes by fast, so you want to give yourself as much time as possible to do what you need to do.

Plan out your schedule for blogging. Having a schedule will keep you on track and help you avoid putting stuff off until later. Maybe you can do a few hours each evening and dedicate 8 or more hours on the weekend. Or, maybe you have all day and every day to blog, in which case I suggest doing at least 8 hours a day if you want to earn some decent money.

Blogging is not just about writing posts. It requires research, socialization, and education, so you need to make sure you have some time to do all those things.

The most important thing on the blog is content creation. We will talk about that more later, but I would say that this takes up about 80% of your time. Content creation includes researching content, writing, looking for quotes, looking for pictures, looking for videos, organizing posts, and proofreading.

The other 20% is interacting with other bloggers and interested readers, and promoting your content. (That’s what works for me. You may find that you only need about 70% of your time to devote to writing posts, but I feel pretty confident with the 80-20 rule here.)

Therefore, if you have 26 hours in the week to blog, plan to dedicate about 21 hours to creating content and 5 hours to interacting and promoting the content.

Step 4: Pick Your Topic

Alright, this is the part of how to start a blog where we have some fun and get inspired. Here you are going to pick your topic. Your topic is the specific area of a niche that you want to talk about. It could be vegan cooking, quilting, salsa dancing, making money through blogging, or building muscle.

You can pick a broad topic, such as cooking in general, and then create your blog about many different aspects of cooking, such as vegan cooking, baking, vegetarian cooking, barbecuing, and anything else you enjoy, but there are a few downsides to a broad topic.

– It’s not as easy to attract an interested audience who bookmark your blog as something unique that they can’t find elsewhere
– It’s not as attractive to certain marketers looking for a specific type of site to put their ads on
– It can be hard to gain focus on what content you should write because there are too many choices
– It can be hard to fill up the categories on the blog (vegan, baking, barbecuing, etc.) because you can only write so many posts at a time

But, there are some upsides too, such as:

– A ton of choices to write about if you can’t think of something on one topic
– Can link to a variety of products or sites where you can make money from
– Attract a wide variety of readers

The bottom line is that I’ve seen successful sites with a broad topic and a specific topic, and I’ve also seen failures in both categories too. If you can’t choose, I strongly suggest making your blog about a specific topic because it is easier to make it interesting for a specific audience.

For example, I look for specific things, such as vegan cooking or training your Miniature Pinscher, as opposed to cooking or training a dog. If I land on a page that has too much information, I click off and try to make my search even more relevant. Most people work that way, so if you can be specific, you will have an easier time attracting people who are interested.

The chances are good that you already have an idea of what you want to blog about, but there are some other important things to consider.

1. Are You Knowledgeable About The Topic?

Believe me, if you choose a topic you know nothing about, simply because you think it will bring you in some money, you are going to be in trouble. It may work out for a few weeks, but after a while, it will become more like a chore to write about and talk about something you don’t know anything about. Unless you are trying to get an education on something, write about something you have a lot of knowledgeable about already, and you can improve your insight on the topic with the foundational knowledge already in place.

Also, if you choose something you are knowledgeable about, then you are going to build your credibility and have an easier time standing out as an authority on the subject. People are looking for answers, not just a light read. They want to know how, why, who, where, when, and what. If you are knowledgeable, you can answer those questions and offer a ton of value to interested people!

2. Are You Passionate About The Topic?

If you choose a niche and topic you could care less about, you will not stick with it! It’s just like any habit that you don’t really want to do, you will drop it once the novelty of it has worn off.

It will become tiring to talk to people about the subject. It will be exhausting to try and explain things to people who read your blog. And, it will be annoying to interact with people who don’t interest you. This guarantees that you will not have success no matter what your blogging goals are, so make sure that you have some passion towards what you want to talk about. Make sure you could write about it for years.

3. Do People Want To Read About This Topic?

This is fairly easy, because there are bound to be people out there interested in what you want to talk about. However, if you want to make money from your blog, then you will want to appeal to more than just a couple of people. Therefore, if you are passionate about taxidermy, you may not attract as many people to your blog as if you were passionate about being a vegan.

You can check out your interests in Google Trends. It gives you an indication of how popular your interest has been since a certain date (the default is 2004-present for me). What’s beautiful is that if you are stuck on what niche you want to create your blog on, you can compare different search terms to see what is gaining popularity, what is losing popularity, and what is maintaining popularity.

For instance, go to Google Trends and plug in the search terms:

– Kim Kardashian
– Taxidermy
– Vegan
– Donald Trump

You should see that vegan is constantly growing while Donald Trump has spiked recently thanks to the election. Obviously starting a blog about Donald Trump would work for this moment, but you have to think about the longevity of your blog too. If he doesn’t succeed, the interest in him will die out, and you will lose readers. Of course, Kim Kardashian may be a better bet since she seems to always be in the spotlight. And vegan would be the best bet. There’s no chance of it dying out and it is steadily gaining popularity.

Don’t take this too seriously, though, or you could find yourself pulled into a topic that you are not really passionate about. If there is something that you want to write about, and you think it can stand the test of time (interest for the long run), but you don’t see much interest in it, then you may want to go for it anyway. If you can make the blog unique or interesting enough, then you will earn yourself some loyal followers of people who are interested in the topic and people who are curious about the topic.

4. Can You Make It Unique And Stand Out?

Some people will tell you that there are too many fitness blogs or gadget blogs or making money online blogs, but if you want to write about one of those things, and have a passion to do so, then you can absolutely create a blog around that topic. The trick is to find a unique angle.

For instance, we mentioned Thug Kitchen. They use swear words and straight talk to make themselves stand out. They just wrote a book called, ‘Eat Like You Give A F*ck’ and as someone who owns it, I can tell you that every recipe contains the type of language you would expect from them.

Another vegan blogger focuses mostly on Indian vegan food. Her book, ‘Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen’ stands out in the vegan section of the bookstore, and her blog stands out among vegan blogs.

If you want to blog about vegan food, what uniqueness can you bring to the table? Maybe you grow your own food. Maybe you have some unique hacks in the kitchen that makes vegan cooking easy or more tasty. Find your angle and go for it!

Read the second part of How to Start A Blog below:

How To Start A Blog: A Step-By-Step Guide – Part 2

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